In these cash-tight times, charities of all sizes are increasing turning to professionals to help raise much-needed funds. We speak with Chris Stoddard, founder of company CSDM, which is establishing its own franchise network across the UK.
WORDS: PAUL F COCKBURN
What does CSDM do?
CSDM works with national charities to bring them much more effective fundraising among individual donors, companies, grant-making trusts and so on. We either take it on lock, stock and barrel, or we work with them in a consulting capacity to help improve what they do in-house.
Why did you decide to set up your own network of franchisees?
We’ve been very successful for our clients nationally; the company’s grown from nought to 70 staff in the space of five years. We’ve grown because we’re been evidently successful for our clients – but they’re all national charities.
It’s an enormous challenge for small local charities to recruit and train good fundraising staff and to have stable, sustainable revenue. With our franchisees our aim is to bring the same kind of fundraising success to local charities so that they can have the same fundraising firepower – that’s the phrase I like to use – as the big charities.
How big a network are you planning?
We envisage having 45 to 50 local fundraising directors across the UK, each looking after around 10 clients, and we have a set target to recruit half of that number by the end of the first year. So, as a business, we’re after about 500 small local charities out of a national total of around 9,000.
What do you look for in a potential franchisee?
Good interpersonal skills, so you’re able to talk with charity trustees, establish relationships, and build confidence that their fundraising is in safe hands. And good organisational skills. The job’s about meeting clients, understanding their aims, goals and need for funds, and then working on the common problems.
Will these be one man – or one woman – businesses?
There will absolutely be opportunities to build small businesses with a turnover in the region of £250,000 to £500,000 – you won’t be a one-man-band.
Do you need to be a good sales person?
It’s not selling in the double-glazing sense; we ‘land sales’ by demonstrating to clients that our approach will deliver results. On our website we’ve got lots of really terrific testimonials from clients – we’ve even had one saying ‘You Gave Us Wings’, which is an extraordinary thing to say.
What kind of investment are you looking for?
The franchise fee, at the moment, is £9,950, and you will also need to support yourself for approximately three months before income generation kicks in.
Why should Civvy Street magazine readers consider becoming a CSDM franchisee?
Fundraising has the same disciplines and rules as any serious profession; we can bring our experience so that local charities can have a fundraising programme that is a mini version of what any big charity does. The opportunity to play a significant role in your own local community has found resonance with many people we’ve talked with.
t: 01989 762 456
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IT’S NOT WHAT YOU MIGHT THINK…
Many people misunderstand what fundraising is, according to Chris Stoddard. “People think it’s just to do with organising endless amusing events, dressed up in funny clothes or doing something unusual – but it isn’t,” he told us. “Events income is very sporadic and unreliable, and it’s a very low return for the investment of time, money and effort. By doing events and shaking tins on street corners, charity trustees can only get so far; the only way to raise sufficient money is to adopt exactly the same fundraising methods and strategies as the big charities – sustained, targeted fundraising, making sure they identify all possible donor sources, and form relationships with them using the right methods and the right materials.”
The award-winning Chris Stoddard has 25 years experience in the fundraising sector and is a past Chairman of Association of Fundraising Consultants. He has successfully raised more than £20 million for clients in the UK, USA, Australia and South Africa. Chris has also written numerous authoritative texts relating to the sector.