Finding sustainable sources of funding is a challenge facing many charitable organisations – including some of the UK’s best-known debt advice providers.
As a result many are looking to professional fundraisers to secure long-term financial support.
Here Gemma Fleet, newly appointed Fundraiser at Money Advice Scotland, explains more about her own role and the sector’s battle for an often limited pool of resources.
She says, “As a sector we know that demand for services and help with complex debt problems is growing.
As an information and generic advice provider we need to ensure we can carry on supporting everyone that needs help.
In the past quarter, 35 per cent of callers were in full-time employment and most calls were about multiple debts, council tax debt and dealing with changes to benefits like PIP and Universal credit.
Advisers throughout the sector are seeing a surge in living cost debts – people falling behind on essentials such as rent and fuel bills – and our helpline statistics tell the same story.
Securing reliable funding streams is essential if we are to continue providing an excellent response to all of these challenges.
Like many organisations, we receive different funding elements for different individual projects and sourcing and maintaining these is an important – and time-consuming job.
In the past, it fell to our Chief Executive to head up applications but as the process has become more demanding – with typical applications requiring 10,000 words of supporting documents and material – this simply isn’t tenable.
With lots of organisations competing for a finite number of resources, these applications are essential to a charity’s future and managing them is a full-time job.
In November 2017 I was appointed as Money Advice Scotland’s first full time fundraiser.
The charity has reached a point where it needs long-term, stable funding to thrive and ultimately, to grow.
So my role involves identifying immediate funding opportunities for the charity and building on existing relationships, leveraging CSR opportunities and awareness-raising.
Throughout 2018 I will be approaching charitable trusts to make grant applications and looking to form mutual partnerships with corporates.
These applications can be tricky for a national service like ours. A lot of funds are set up to benefit a particular region and our services cover the whole of Scotland.
Despite some positive press there is still a stigma around debt and many people don’t see advice provision, or its support as a charitable cause.
Funding policy work is important to challenge this and to examine the causes of debt.
So later in the year, I will be looking to raise public awareness of who Money Advice Scotland is and what we do, to create an audience we can appeal to as part of wider funding campaign.
We’ll be running an awareness week and launching a compilation, featuring some great Scottish musicians, to publicise what we do and offer support.
Fundraising also gives us the freedom to conduct empirical research into where further support is needed.
Accessibility and financial technology are big development areas here. As a provider, we are working hard to ensure the format of our training materials suit audiences and meet accessibility needs, offering face-to-face, and online training in provided in different languages
Fundraising will help us to deliver all of this and more – creating a diverse suite of services to serve the needs of our population.”
If you or your company want to find out more about the work of Money Advice Scotland please don’t hesitate to get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org