Ladies and gentleman my name is Mark
Astarita. I am a fundraiser and a life saver
and I have the best job in the world. Put
simply I give people the chance to save lives
too and it really does not get better than
that. Sometimes we’re in danger of forgetting
that the difference we can make is to give
people the chance to make a difference too.
You too help change the world too while
others watch it happening I do hope like me
you take pride in that.
Last year I made a speech at the PIFA
awards, and that’s something to say when
you’re still sober and haven’t had a few
glasses of wine, and I was touched and
surprised by the number of people that
approached me on the night, emailed me, and
personally thanked me
for what I had to say about partners in
fundraising and those who support the
For those of you who weren’t there and heard
it in essence, I talked about how grateful the
fundraising community should and must be
for the extraordinary amounts of money that
we have raised as a direct result of many of
you, quite literally, sometimes putting your
houses on the line. I have to admit that I
didn’t think twice about it when I said it
because it came from the bottom of my
heart. I suppose what was surprising was the
fact that you were all surprised that someone
would stand up on a platform and say it. In
hindsight, someone should have said it long
before…..Because fundraisers and the
fundraising community simply cannot do their
jobs without so many of you.
That’s why the IoF created the PIFA awards –
to celebrate the very many companies and
organisations, who through their hard work,
investment and dedication help the
fundraising community raise millions.
We’re here tonight to celebrateyour
contributions and the talents of the
peoplewho work for and with you.
So I can’t top what I said last year – I just
can’t love you all anymore than I already do.
So you’re going to have to put up with a
slightly different twist as I reflect back over
the last year and look forward to the coming
few years for the fundraising community.
Let me begin with the fact that this is almost
certainly the last time I’ll be presenting at
the PIFA Awards, if only for the reasons that
I’m coming to the end of my time as Chair of
the Institute of Fundraising. So come the
AGM in July, I will stand down and a new
chair will be appointed.
The search is on. I did offer to do a Putin but
they were having none of it…. seriously, the
role of the Chair is very important, and I have
been honoured and privileged to do it over
the last few years. And as I approach my
swan song, I hope to be able to reflect back
and support my successor in leading this
great institute and this wonderful fundraising
community. In one way I’m looking forward to
my retirement from the Board, so then I can
say what I really think…’hahaha poor old
peter will lose his hair now.
It has been quite a few years for fundraisers
everywhere has it not…..
Giving might be flattish for some but it is not
for my charity and many many others. The
only game in town today for charities large
and small is fundraising, so flat compared to
the rest of the economy over the recent past
may be pretty darned good.
I await some solid figures on how Uk
charities faired during the recession I hazard
a guess not as bad as some doom
UK fundraisers today are sought out by all
the global fundraising outfits when recruiting.
We are fast becoming the great new British
export. UK fundraising rocks ....
But we have a problem in the Uk as CAF’s
recent research points out so clearly.
6% of the population do 66% of the giving and
25% don’t give a damn and give nothing. It
means nearly 70% of the rest of the
population don’t give so much.
Between us all as a sector we spend around
½ a billion pounds on fundraising but have
after 30 years of professional fundraising
have we grown the pie…. Are more people
giving and are they giving more sadly I don’t
think they are.
I have a feeling that the fundraising
profession has like the little boy with their
finger in the dyke stopingsome of the
generosity flooding away.
In other words we have held back the tide of
cynicism and held our own but only just. We
as a nation have got lots richer over the last
50 years but way more generous I am not
UK fundraisers are probably the most
technically capable fundraisers in the world
and if I was coaching a young fundraiser
today as I have many over the last 20 years,I
would probably say learn youramazing skills
here. Be bloody good in the toughest and
most competitive environment at what you
do and then leave the country.
Because the real growth in giving and the
amazing fundraising results of tomorrow will
probably take place in other countries not
We live on a small island… massively blessed
though we are with the most vibrant
voluntary sector in the world unless we see a
transformational change in giving habits any
time soon, the sector will freeze…..
then shrink and many wonderful causes may
not be here in 10 years time.
Now I am personally not ready for my place
in the sun and not willing to give up on the
UK yet. I plan to grow voluntary income at
the Red Cross but I am less certain I will pull
it off than I have ever been.
The time has come for far wiser people than
me, for our sector leaders no less, for
politicians, church leaders and opinion
formers everywhere to begin a debate on
what kind of charitable sector we want in 20
or 30 years time and how if voluntary taxing
people won’t work are we going to resource
A strong vibrant civil society is a corner
stone of a free society where people come
together to make their world a better place.
It is always crushed by the dictators and
nutured by those that cherish freedom even
when they disagree with you.
The role of our
state has for over 100 years or more been to
nurture civil society in the UK, it is good for
democracy, good for people health and
welfare and good for us as a nation at least
that is what most of us thought.
But today if you read some sections of the
media we are 5th columnists hell bent on
undermining the state, grasping resources for
our own benefit and campaigning not to
change the world but to advance our own
Never before have we faced such hostility in
my memory. That’s why I’m glad NCVO has
set up a commission to look at executive pay
– and the Institute has worked closely with it
over the past few months making sure the
donors voice is at the table too.
Yes donors care where and what happens
with their donations and woe betide anyone
who suggests otherwise.
But the debate has been so onesided and so
unfair let me give you an example that Iona
Joy from New Philanthropy Capital used in a
recent online discussion on this:
“The CEO of Oxfam is paid £120,000, and is
responsible for a £360 million budget, 700
wonderful shops in the UK and 5,000
employees and 20,000 volunteers who work
in over 90 often dangerous countries across
the world. £120,000 doesn’t feel way over
the top in the context of that job description.
The CEO of Next also runs 700 shops (but no
humanitarian aid) and gets nearly £1.5m.”
The Head teacher of my local academy gets
paid more than me and she has 70 staff and
8m in income while I have 900 staff, 12,000
volunteers, 340 shops and raise around
£150m in income each year.
I think she deserves to be paid fairly to teach
the children of hackney a vital life changing
task and I know I could not do her job….But
nor could she do mine!
Money is not going to make me a much
better fundraiser and nor do I need bonuses
to get me to go to work but we do need
fairness in the debate and not lynch mobs in
the media or parliament belittling our worth.
We are not the financial wizards or brokers
who bankrupted our nation and turned so
many to queuing at the food bank…. so
please give us a break.
I hope the NCVO Commission will take some
of the heat out of this debate because when
the chief charity commissioner does more to
undermine giving and… through his words
and deeds does more to undermine trust and
confidence than a small army of chuggers
ever could we all have a problem.
So Mr Shawcross if you need to look macho
to do your job and show your in charge buy
yourself a super hero outfit and join me with
a bucket during red cross week, then we can
both look like twits but at least it will be for a
Now I did say prats in an earlier draft but
thought I should be more statesman like up
Now give me a platform and I am going to
take a few momentsto talk about a couple of
things that need to change and don’t feel
right; things we need to have another look at.
Some of you will know that I have been a
long term advocate of all gift aid returned to
charities and not to donors.
I do believe too many in the sector got
behind the wrong horse. We were backing
donors, rather than backing beneficiaries.
The HMRC has just published data which
says that tax relief for charities has
increased 150% but It’s also gone up 400%
for donors. And as the National Audit office
pointed out, there is scant evidence that tax
relief for donors has encouraged greater
giving. One day I hope I’ll be proven right. But
as political parties write their manifestos, I
hope at least one of them, as did the Lib
Dems last time, take up the challenge to
ensure that tax relief given adds to a greater
advantage to charities than to indivduals. I
don’t know all the answers, but I know that
we should be brave enough to take another
look, brave enough not to just copy the
Americans. What I do know is that no one has
ever asked me for a tax break when they
decided to give.
And I think the best example of a tax relief
gone wrong is that of corporate Gift Aid. I
remember the day when prior to the Gift Aid
changes, when a corporation made a
donation, we sent them a form. And if they
filled in the form, we could get another 20%
on top. Overnight, the chancellor, changed
the rules which meant that all corporate gift
aid went to the company and it got lost. In
big companies where most corporate giving
happens, the gift aid never ever comes back
to the department that spends it – it gets
,lost in the wash and it doesn’t encourage
more giving to charities.,
So my message to Mr Osborneor Ed Ball and
to all the political parties when writing
their manifestos – is give us the gift aid back
on corporate donations. And while we are at
it lets be imaginative about donations in kind
too, and let’s see if we can’t manage a
massive surge in the use of donations in kind.
It would be remiss of me not to reminisce a
little on last year – the year the IoF
celebrated its 30 year anniversary. We grew
our individual membership 6% on last year.
We now have 360 charities who are
members, who between them raise an
amazing £6 billion. We have 100 corporate
supporters – more than ever before. Last
year, our national, regional, and special
interest groups supported over 6000
fundraisers in over 200 conferences and
events – one or two of you here went to every
single one of them I think.
If I was to add into our conferences, our
academy qualifications and training, we
reached over 10,000 fundraisers. Last year
we launched our new advanced diploma in
fundraising. We also had a record number of
nominations for last year’s national awards
where there were some fabulous and breathtaking examples of fundraising.
We all know charities will continue to face
the double whammy of more demand for their
services at the same time as public sector
funding is dramatically decreasing. The only
rational responses are to dramatically
redesign services, to increase fundraising or
both. So there will be more fundraising over
the next 5 years, not less.
As Bernard Jenkin, the MP who chaired the
Public Administration Select Committee
investigation into the Charity Act said when
the Institute was called to give evidence:
"you need to break an egg to make an
He is right. If you do not ask, you do not get.
And some people will continue to find some
fundraising, of whatever nature, a nuisance
no matter how well it is done, no matter how
well it enables people to support causes they
really care about; no matter how important
those causes are.
Over the last year I’ve been absolutely struck
by how tough it is out there. And we don’t
want things to get any harder do we lets face
it how many Finance directors or CEO’s are
cutting their fundraisers targets frankly have
Our job is to inspire people to give and to
give again and to give more.
We all in turn give anyone that cares to
engage with us the chance to do something
That is a wonderful gift both to donors and
the causes we support.
I said earlier if we want people to give then
we are all going to have to ask more and if
we are to ask for more and get more civic
engagement or Big Society or what ever you
want to call it we need a positive
environment in which to fundraise.
At our Annual Awards I said something that
got a lot of coverage in the sector press, and
I’m going to say it again today.
If you spend it you should be bloody proud of
those that raise it.
So Ladies and gentlemen be proud of your
achievements this year; be bold in your
dreams; and be chuffed to bits that you – as
fundraisers or partners in fundraising – get to
do one of the best jobs in the world. I
certainly am. And as Chair of your Institute, I
can assure you we’re as proud as hell of all
what you do too.
I was taught by my first charity director that
the most important ask you ever make is
through the thanks you give..so thank you so
much for listening to me tonight.