50 years of fundraising: The more things change, the more they stay the same

The fourth in the series celebrating the 25th edition of The Directory of Grant Making Trusts.

To celebrate the 25th edition, and the 50th year in print of The Directory of Grant Making Trusts, we take a look back over the last 50 years of fundraising through the eyes of a range of fundraising experts.

Peter Lewis, Chief Executive, Institute of Fundraising reflects on the role of the IoF and other factors that have changed the face of fundraising: 

The more things change, the more they stay the same.   In many ways we have seen fundraising transform over the last 50 years beyond all recognition.  But at the same time, at the heart of the profession, we see the importance of our work and the role of connecting people to causes remains the same.

So what has changed in fundraising?  Well, the Institute of Fundraising for one thing!  The IoF was only set up 34 years ago by a group of committed fundraisers who wanted to improve standards and ensure that their work had a space to be supported, to grow, and to be recognised as a genuine profession.   We have made great strides as the Institute over recent decades, but more importantly this has been accompanied by growing expertise and professionalism within the sector.  The role of volunteers and charity staff all playing their part in fundraising is, of course, essential, but there is little doubt that we have seen and continue to see fundraising skills and expertise become a genuinely recognised profession.  At the IoF we want to enable this over the next few years by becoming a Chartered Institute.

Secondly, fundraising, as with almost every other profession, has seen profound change with new technology.  The internet has changed the way that we live our lives and fundraising has adapted to this.  The year on year rise in online giving is testament to this.  Social media has enabled charities to engage with supporters in new and different ways enabling fundraisers to tailor their approaches and improve the supporter experience.

New physical technology has also transformed the way we are engaging with donors.  Over the last few years alone we have seen this with the application of virtual reality technology to help donors understand the causes they support, with contactless payments as fundraising adapts to an increasingly ‘cashless society’, and with new smartphone apps that give donors greater choice, control and awareness of how they support the cause.  And, of course, the rise of online giving platforms have enabled people to take action themselves to raise money for vital causes.

Despite these transformative changes over previous decades the essence of fundraising and the amazing work that fundraisers do every day remains constant.  Fundraising has always been at the heart of our sector because it allows charities to carry out their amazing work.  This is as important now as it has ever been.  It has always been, at its best, about highlighting an issue, linking people to causes and inspiring the generosity of the general public.

About Peter Lewis

Peter Lewis is Chief Executive of the Institute of Fundraising. His role involves responsibility for the overall leadership and management of the IoF, making sure the Institute delivers against the organisational objectives set by our members in the most effective way possible.

Peter Lewis’ previous roles include Chief Executive of London Voluntary Service Council; he has worked for Crisis, acted as CEO of the London Cycling Campaign and held a senior role at the Greater London Authority.

About The Directory of Grant Making Trusts 2018/19

Now celebrating its landmark 25th edition, the UK’s best-selling guide to funding from grant-making charities is back.

The Directory of Grant Making Trusts 2018/19 offers the information you need to seek your charity’s share of over £5 billion – the annual total awarded by the 2,000 funders featured in this edition. With data sourced directly from grant-making charities, each with the potential to give at least £40,000 per year, no charity – big or small – should be without it.