28/11/2006 - 21:00

Not for profit: Hard work finding the right fit

28/11/2006 - 21:00

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Competition for the fundraising dollar is fierce in Western Australia’s prosperous economic climate, with not-for-profit organisations having to think creatively in their fight for a piece of the pie.

Not for profit: Hard work finding the right fit

Competition for the fundraising dollar is fierce in Western Australia’s prosperous economic climate, with not-for-profit organisations having to think creatively in their fight for a piece of the pie.

 

In fact the market has become so competitive that strategic planning and marketing consultancy, Toolbox, has found a niche opportunity for itself, with director James Lawton advising not-for-profit organisations on ways to improve their position.

 

Mr Lawton said one of the main issues currently facing the not-for-profit sector was how to communicate a point of difference, when available resources for profile-raising were limited and the government dollar was stretched.

 

“There are so many charities even within a particular area, whether it be cancer or disability or something else, where they are facing specific competition,” Mr Lawton told WA Business News.

 

“I think the fundraising dollar no doubt is getting squeezed and I think that comes down to several points.

 

“There are significantly more fundraising events now, and also to some degree there’s consumer fatigue in terms of fundraising.”

 

Mr Lawton said not-for-profits needed to consider new approaches to fundraising, through strategic alliances with their competitors in the not-for-profit sector and partnerships with the corporate sector.

 

“The two main ideas are to look at corporate partnerships, not the traditional fundraising type but also to look at the large organisations that have philanthropic trusts,” Mr Lawton said.

 

Trusts such as the Rio Tinto WA Future Fund and the BHP Community Trust provide an opportunity for smaller charities to access resources.

 

“They should also consider working with other people in the industry. Corporates supporting organisations look favourably at partnerships within industry,” Mr Lawton said.

 

He said a number of peak bodies also operated to try to bring organisations with the same focus together in a co-operative alliance.

 

“I guess it’s a balance between the mutual benefit versus having point of difference that sets you apart and allows you to attract funds ahead of the competition.”

 

“I think if they don’t work together they are missing opportunities, though organisations still need to operate independently in some areas.”

 

Charity Link is one local organisation that assists charities in forming alliances on specific campaigns. It’s a collaborative charity that assists smaller, under-resourced not-for-profit organisations to work together on shared projects at peak demand times, such as Christmas, winter and the beginning of the school year.

 

Charity Link executive officer Maureen Mawson said while it was not always feasible for charities to merge, pooling resources on projects of a shared interest was a useful way of raising profile and getting a bigger return on investment.

 

“The other advantage is charities are becoming under more scrutiny for their administration costs. Obviously, working together will reduce admin costs, letting member charities continue in their activities,” she said. 

 

Operating under an umbrella organisation such as Charity Link allows smaller organisations to achieve a higher profile, which can be difficult with limited resources.

 

One not-for-profit organisation told WA Business News that large organisations with national bodies are especially difficult to compete with, as they were more attractive to corporate sponsors.

 

Nicola Bedwood Marketing and Communications director of consultancy, Nicola Bedwood, said the traditional fundraising activities of not-for-profit organisations were generating less money than before.

 

“It’s very competitive out there. I advise my clients that they have to think outside the square,” Ms Bedwood said.

 

“You’ve got to constantly think of different ways to fundraise, to give back to your sponsor. Sponsors are looking for more for their dollar.”

 

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