THE two sides of fund-raising were examined at a conference in central London on Tuesday.
More than 400 people, most of them with organisations, buildings, or projects than need funding, paid £115 to listen to a panel of substantial donors explaining what attracts their attention and wins funds.
The panel at the conference, Raising Funds for Christian Charities and Churches, included four philanthropists, who suggested that they were looking for “passion — with a plan”. One remarked: “I don’t want to give anything to anybody if they’re not excited about it.”
The audience in Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, heard from the Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, on how to encourage generous giving from congregations.
It was a three-stage process, he said. People had to give their whole lives to Christ; they had to be taught to praise God; and only then would they be open to learning how to give generously.”
God is not interested in what you’ve given. His eyes are on what you’ve left behind,” Dr Sentamu said. Giving was the route to joy, he maintained. “Tight-fisted people find it hard to be cheerful.” And people gave joyfully when they believed in what they were funding.
He was dismissive of Church of England guidelines on tithing, suggesting five per cent of net income. He and his wife gave 20 per cent of their gross income, he said, and sometimes God challenged them to give more.
When turning to outside donors, the message was to treat them as human beings and not an endangered species.
Michael O’Neill, the chief executive of the charity Stewardship, which organised the conference, said: “Major donors want to believe that they are valued for more than their money. . . Invite your major donors to help, not to give.”
Honesty and integrity were mentioned more than once during the presentations. “If the sky isn’t falling, don’t pretend that it is.”
But new research by Theos, funded by the Mercers’ Company, suggested this was rare. Having examined 263 funding bodies, Theos found that novelty and innovation were over-valued.
The researchers also found evidence to suggest that there was some resistance to projects that were deemed “too Christian”.
A list of things that substantial donors were seeking included: good governance, projects that fitted the funder’s guidelines, good monitoring and evaluation, and tangible outcomes.