In August, the Institute of Fundraising released 'Successful
Partnerships for Sustainable Fundraising: a practical guide for
charities working with agencies'. The Charity Commission's
revisions to its guidance on fundraising shifted its focus from
fundraising generally to trustees' duties in relation to
fundraising. This shift is understandable given the emphasis placed
on trustees by the Etherington review of fundraising
self-regulation, but it is great to see others within the sector
filling the gap which has been left by providing useful practical
The guidance is split into four parts: planning and preparation;
selecting, assessing and appointing a partner; establishing the
terms of the partnerships; and monitoring, reviewing and
Planning and preparation
Part one helps charities to understand what agencies are and how
they work. It also considers the benefits of using a fundraising
agency, such as specialist skills and knowledge or access to new
ideas and technology, as well as the risk of using a fundraising
agency which can include a failure to deliver results or damage to
a charity's reputation and brand. The guidance adopts a three
step approach to help charities make informed decisions about
working with a fundraising agency: (1) Should I use a third party
supplier? (2) Identifying and managing risks (3) Are we ready to
partner with an agency?
Selecting, evaluation and appointing a partner
It is important that charities work with the right fundraising
agencies. The Institute of Fundraising recommends taking this on a
step by step basis. Firstly, identifying potential fundraising
agencies that a charity could work with and conducting due
diligence on them. Secondly, creating a request for proposal
setting out a detailed brief of the services the agency is expected
to provide. Next, during the tender process, charities will need to
respond to any questions received, as well as allowing agencies
sufficient time to respond. The fourth step is to evaluate the
responses to the tender against a predetermined set of criteria.
The Institute of Fundraising suggest that visiting the agency's
premises and meeting key staff should form part of this evaluation.
Finally, a charity should appoint their chosen agency and conclude
any financial or contractual negotiations before informing
Establishing the terms of the partnership
Fundraising agencies are commercial participators and
accordingly a written contract must be in place between the charity
and the fundraising agency which fulfils certain legal
requirements. It is important that such agreements are properly
negotiated and you seek appropriate legal advice as needed. The
Institute of Fundraising additionally recommends establishing
service level agreements and key performance indicators (SLAs and
KPIs) to help agree and monitor activity. A programme of work
should be put in place which includes a timetable of actions, key
milestones and responsibilities. The guidance contains a helpful
list of aspects to consider for certain types of activity. The next
step is to agree targets for the activity before briefing and
training fundraisers (including preparing and reviewing training
Monitoring, reviewing and evaluating
The Etherington review of fundraising self-regulation
highlighted the importance of monitoring and evaluating the
performance of professional fundraisers. The Institute of
Fundraising's guidance suggests that monitoring should be
through a number of elements including reports, site visits,
mystery shopping, complaint logs, supporter feedback and call
listening. A schedule of reviews should be agreed with the
fundraising agency to formally evaluate their performance.
The guidance is well worth a read by fundraisers, legal teams
negotiating contracts with fundraising agencies and trustees.
The full guidance is available on the Institute of
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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