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  • Writer's pictureCharity Chat Podcast

E170 - Is Charging Beneficiaries The Route To Sustainability With Joe Saxton

“One of the great joys of fundraising and the charity sector is its sheer diversity, and the problem is that when you start to have a pandemic and therefore you squeeze that diversity, you narrow it down, charities are doing less things, less ways of fundraising, less ways of delivering service… organisations can’t do all of the things that they know they can do best…” - Joe Saxton

In this episode we speak with Joe Saxton, founder and driver of ideas at nfpSynergy, a research consultancy for charities.

1. Charities restructuring and fatigue

Joe raised the issue of charities having to restructure as a consequence of the pandemic, and how time consuming and disruptive this has been. It has had to happen in order for the charity to survive, but takes up vital time, resource and focus at a time where so many charities are needed more than ever.

This then leads into how fatigued staff and leaders are, and the impact this is likely having on their mental health and wellbeing. Perhaps you, dear listener can understand this, as I’m sure we can all understand and empathise with. Joe used the analogy of being asked to sprint for the length of time of a marathon.

2. Asking beneficiaries to contribute isn’t new

There are plenty of examples of charities asking their beneficiaries to contribute to the service they are benefiting from, whether that is paying the full cost or a subsidised cost. Examples of this exist across our sector, with charitable membership bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Fundraising being just one example.

Joe doesn’t think that enough organisations are considering this model. Especially as there are good reasons why beneficiaries may want to see the project delivered more than a donor not using the service. In some cases, donors may also be on board with the idea that beneficaries are partially paying for the service that they are benefitting from. This could be a tantalising offer for funders who are looking to get bang for their buck.

3. The term ‘beneficiaries’ and risking complexity

‘Beneficiaries’ may be a loaded term but what is the alternative, and how could we ever find a consensus on an alternative?

Does this consideration play into the pitfall that the sector may regularly fall into of over complicating language to explain our work?

One thing that resonated with us in what Joe spoke about in relation to charities communicating, specifically on social media, is that charities need to get beyond the corporate speak, because people give to people.

We also heard Joe’s point about fundraisers and communicators in charities needing to pull charities in the direction of simplicity and away from the potentially inevitable move charities make towards complexity.

This episode of Charity Chat has been brought to you by our platinum sponsor, fundraising platform Work for Good and the festive Small Business Star match funding campaign. This year there is a £50,000 match funding pot available. Head to to sign-up for free!

We hope you enjoy this week’s episode.

Related episodes that you may be interested in:

E163 - The Profession Of Fundraising With Ian MacQuillin -

E152 – Building Leadership Capacity with Sarah Galvin -

E142 - Navigating COVID-19 and Beyond with Sam Butler and Kevin Mounce -


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