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BD Giving Notes #27 – ‘Working for a smaller charity’

There is magic in small charities - something special, and being place-based means that we see what is happening locally.

I’d like to use this Note to talk about how I’ve adapted to life at a small charity. Working for a smaller charity has proven to be a learning opportunity for me. It has given me the chance to implement new systems (like Salesforce) and there is a lot of potential and freedom to pursue alternative sources of funding. There have also been some challenges.

Same but different

“We are a charity and we rely on your support.” No matter the size of the charity, this is a very popular quote you’ll find on most donation pages. Donations, funds, grants – all charities are dependent on them for their survival. 

The difference is that in a smaller charity, this need is felt differently by the people who work there.

Coming from a larger and well-known organisation, I was used to some advantages when it comes to fundraising. For example, a well-known name means there is no need to explain who we are or what we do, there are more resources to draw on and opportunities to partner with other major brands.

Naturally at BD Giving, I was expecting a learning curve. I knew the consequences of not getting funding for our organisation would be greater. If we don’t receive a grant we’re expecting it affects our day-to-day business, not just potential projects. It could be the difference between having all our members of staff or having to make difficult decisions. Kate and Géraud have a more in-depth breakdown of this which you can read here.

This puts some pressure on the fundraising team, which is made up of just Kate and me. If we stop our work, everything stops. Fundraising is an essential life force it helps activate us which in turn helps us work on delivering our mandates of social change. We are expected to excel at quick decision-making and flexibility as our plans can change rapidly. We can’t have a 5 year-long plan, we need to be careful with our projections.

The benefits of small

I see a lot of resilience in my teammates and a strong belief in the big picture. For the fundraising team, the plan is to grow revenue, engage new funders and add to the Endowment Fund.

There is magic in small charities – something special, and being place-based means that we see what is happening locally. I can see that we’re making a difference, something fundraisers far from the frontline in major charities may envy. 

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