In 2017, we predicted that 2018 would see improvements in our supply chain management, less staff poaching and a greater investment in the donor journey. Two out of three ain’t bad.
So, what is in store for 2019?
My first prediction for the coming year is that we will see even more in-house teams performing at a variety of levels.
In-house can be a fantastic option if you have the talent, infrastructure and a sound understanding of what success looks like to you, but if you do not know what the required culture of your organisation is before you set sail, you’ll end up hiring a dismal campaign manager, imitating the failed agency they worked for, and wondering why you cannot get your team off the ground.
A quick warning, my second point is more of a whinge than a want.
Whilst charities attempt to beg, borrow and steal managers to start their in-house teams, these same managers realise they could make a lot more money with their own micro-agency.
I didn’t guess last year that we would see a surge in small agencies run by fundraisers with less than six months experience and zero management skills. This is a trend that really needs to end. It appears that every rep who has hit their sales targets for a few months in a row is offered the chance to start their own sub-contracting company by one of the 'big 5'. I’m totally pro taking control of your own future, but really wish these subs would hold off for a year or two so that they learn how to run a company before pulling down everything we’ve tried to build on a promise of more money for themselves. Fundraising or sales is not the same skillset as being the director of a company.
My next prediction is that the big 5 will become the big 4, 3 or even 2.
I truly hope this doesn’t happen as the industry needs some consistency. I have been happily surprised by the excellent work a couple of the big players have done this year. They’ve managed to keep costs low, quality relatively high and seem to have transitioned or be transitioning to the employment model with huge success. I hope the others can raise their standards to meet these outliers and show consistent leadership within our cherished sector. Offering every Tom, Dick and Harry their own company will not sustain the industry or their business.
Changing tact, I think we will bump into fewer street teams and more shopping centres. This will do a few things:
lessen damage to reputation by not having 8 different charities on one street;
put the CPA through the roof as the cost of these locations rise; and
potentially make the PFRA less relevant as much of its work is based on streets and some doors.
This move into more shopping centre teams might prove successful if we invest in better tools for the job. Permanent or semi-permanent stalls, interesting handouts, eye-catching uniform, and interactive experiences are the way forward. These changes could extend our channel by another decade.
With the cost of entry rising, I think we’ll see less organisations trying to do F2F on the cheap. I’m not talking about pushing back on fees, I mean investment in the donor journey, high quality materials and fundraiser training. Those attempting to cut corners in 2018 found it very tough and those who try it in 2019 will probably fail. Charities must heed the message: If you cannot afford the mechanisms to keep your donors you shouldn’t be recruiting them.
My final prediction is that fewer charities will dip their toes in the water and those historically dependent on the channel might start pulling back. The worst kept secret in Aussie fundraising was officially released a couple of weeks ago, with a major player pulling out of F2F, and I think we’ll see a couple more following suit. This might help take the pressure off of volume and restore the supplier/charity balance.
Before I run away, I’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has read and followed this blog and to everyone involved in making a positive difference to F2F around the globe this year. Honest, passionate and skilled fundraisers make this the best and most exciting channel to work in.
Let’s celebrate the successes of 2018 and look forward to a great 2019. Happy fundraising!
PS: Please add comments below with your own predictions and hopes for F2F in 2019. We’ll see how accurate we are this time next year.