Firm foundations for a fundraising strategy

Friends International

"David’s manner is very engaging and professional. His service is top end. He listened and was not afraid to push us on some points. I was particularly impressed that he had the thought to come to me with his presentation before taking it to the Executive Committee."


Friends International is a Christian charity that provides hospitality for international students coming to study in the UK. By equipping churches and volunteers, the charity helps overseas students to settle in, integrate and find fulfilling activities. The charity has 40 centres in university towns around the country and over 60 people working full-time or part-time. However, statistics showed its reach to be just one per cent of all international students in the UK and the strategic aim was to increase the number of centres from 40 to 60, requiring an estimated fundraising target of £800,000.

The charity’s National Director, Alan Tower, heard David Saint speak at a fundraising conference in Westminster Central Hall and asked him to help put together a fundraising strategy to guide Friends International towards the £800,000 target.

The first thing we do with any brief is challenge it. In this case, David began by questioning the target figure. Would £800,000 be enough to fund 20 new centres? Should we perhaps aim for a million, to cover a likely resultant increase in support costs? He and his colleague David Loxton then talked to directors, trustees and local staff to gather information, which he was able to use to inform his presentation to the Executive Committee. The presentation included a financial assessment and funding forecast to pinpoint how much money would be needed and where it might come from, prerequisites for the changes the charity wanted to make, resources required and how they could be accessed, and a recommended fundraising model with costs and first steps set out. Before presenting his recommendations to the Executive Committee, David ran them past Alan Tower to make sure he was happy for the somewhat radical conclusions to be presented to the committee.

The presentation gave Friends International’s Executive Committee a road map towards agreeing a workable and targeted fundraising strategy. It elicited a positive initial response from the directors, who agreed to assess it before talking it through at their next meeting and developing it further towards implementation.

Consultant’s insight:
It is particularly rewarding to come into a project early in its inception and be able to play a part in developing the thinking. As an outside consultant, we can bring an objective perspective and be in a good position to question ‘received wisdom’. Friends International does excellent work, but it seemed to us that its potential was somewhat limited by living on a shoestring budget. We hope that some of our proposals for gearing up fundraising will help the charity achieve even greater things in the future.

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