Opening minds to a new way of doing things

Citizens Advice Craven & Harrogate Districts

Consultant: David Saint

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David Saint

“I was hoping for some sort of miracle. David couldn’t deliver that but, with his stature, experience and objectivity, he did help to bring the Board along in a way that I couldn’t do, being too close to it.”

Tim Tribe, Citizens Advice Craven & Harrogate Districts

Citizens Advice Craven & Harrogate Districts has been helping local people for 80 years. Until five years ago the organisation received good support from local councils but that has been severely cut back. For the last year, Trustee Tim Tribe has been pushing for a concerted fundraising strategy but as an organisation that traditionally had not had to fundraise, this required a certain change in culture and, as is often the case in situations like this, required careful management. Tim entered the Pearls of Wisdom consultancy giveaway, hoping that David Saint’s Fundraising Strategy Workshop might provide the catalyst for change. His application was successful.

To help develop a fundraising strategy that would give clear guidance on where to focus their energies.

Pearl of Wisdom:
Fundraising Strategy Workshop, delivered by David Saint, Chairman of Action Planning.

David began with a review of governance documents and some phone interviews with Trustees and management. This gave an overview of current funding sources, human resources and a feel for the mood in the camp. 

The workshop was conducted via Zoom, due to the Covid-19 restrictions, but this actually proved beneficial, in that it made scheduling easier for all attendees, as well as saving on travel expenses. It lasted for four hours, with a couple of breaks.

Having carried out the preliminary research, David was able to address the need for cultural change with a good knowledge of the feelings “in the room”, which enabled him to address the sticking points and coax the group into thinking constructively about a fundraising strategy.

He led them through the principal components of a fundraising strategy, such as building a case for support, identifying funding sources and deciding on the best approach. He offered up three very different models for achieving their fundraising target, ranging from 308 gifts down to just 32, and asked the group to consider which looked the most realistic.

By the end of the workshop, the group had the knowledge and tools to come to an agreement over the best strategic path, and begin to think about who could manage it and how.

David left Citizens Advice Craven and Harrogate with a seven-point plan of action, including agreement on an aspirational budget, what the money is needed for, the case for support, the most realistic funding model, a plan for each funding source, a job description for a lead fundraising volunteer and finally “Go fundraising!” When we followed up with Tim Tribe, he confirmed that the new fundraising strategy had been completed and approved by the July Trustee Board meeting. He declared that they were  “a long long way from where we were a year ago”.

Consultant’s insight:
It is always a challenge when an organisation has to change tack as a result of a significant shift in its funding model, and Citizens Advice was no exception. All the expertise in the charity was focused around statutory contracts, and as these diminished it became necessary to look elsewhere. Although a great deal of thought and energy was being put into this, there was no real strategic framework within which to place and test ideas – because the organisation lacked people with broad-based fundraising experience. Tim and his team have travelled a huge distance in a short space of time and are now focused on securing a robust and sustainable fundraising process which will support their growing activities for years to come. The impact of the COVID pandemic has only heightened the challenge but we are confident they are on a sound path and have a mutually beneficial relationship with us to help them navigate the inevitable twists and turns.

It was, therefore, a real joy to work with a group of people who really wanted to learn and who were open-minded to new ways of working. We very much hope that the process we went through together will have provided them with that strategic framework, so that their considerable energies – and skills – can now be focused on a smaller number of fundraising initiatives that have a real prospect of generating the income they need. 

About Pearls of Wisdom
Pearls of Wisdom is our campaign to mark the 30th anniversary of Action Planning, for which we have given away £100,000 worth of free consultancy, spread over 56 separate packages. You can read more about it here.

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