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Community Groups Face Tough Times

9 December 2009

Community Groups Face Tough Times

Local community groups reliant on funding grants from philanthropic trusts and gaming machines trusts will find it hard going in 2009 says fundraising expert Heather Newell.

Heather, whose company Foresee Communications provides fundraising resources and training for groups in the charity, sports, arts, health and medical research sectors, said the worldwide recession has hit major community funders who make grants from the interest on their investments. Some funders have called a halt to making any grants at all, others are reviewing their funding pool for next year.

One of the biggest funders in the country – the ASB Community Trust – has reduced its funding pool by almost half on the year before and may reduce it again during 2009. Bay Trust which operates in the Gisborne area has frozen its grant allocations for two months. While not yet ready to make public announcements, Heather knows of others whose investments have been frozen by fund managers.

“Unless charities have their own reserve funds and other sources of income, the next year is going to be tough,” said Heather.  “The organisations that will survive are those who are active in many fundraising areas and whose donors will continue to support the organisation in a difficult financial environment. Charities will need to look towards business support, donations, product sales, direct mail to supporters, membership clubs, street and door to door appeals to expand their income sources. Even small organisations that are well resourced in the fundraising area can invest $12,000 in communications with their supporters to raise over $100,000 in donations – a return of over nine times the investment.”

Personal challenges like Movember, where participants sacrifice something for a cause, regularly raise around $500 per participant. Not all organisations will reach this level of sophistication according to Heather, but these figures show that organisations can be well resourced and sustainable without relying on funding grants from trusts.

Along with fellow fundraiser Dwyllis Brown, Heather will be presenting  workshops on fundraising in Wellington (January), Auckland (February), Nelson (February) and Invercargill (March).  Heather specialises in fundraising with businesses and sponsorship and has been producing a monthly subscriber publication on sponsorship for 12 years.  Dwyllis has an international qualification in fundraising training and is a fellow of the Fundraising Institute of New Zealand.  Her area of specialisation is fundraising sustainability and future fundraising.

The fundraising workshop will show participants how to create a fundraising plan using different forms of fundraising so that non profits are not reliant on one single source of income. The case studies and examples they use are all from New Zealand, using tried, tested and ethical fundraising practice. More information on fundraising and the dates of the fundraising courses can found on Foresee’s website,


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