So, what does the Felix Project do and how long has it been around?
The Felix Project has been running since 2016. We collect food waste from suppliers across London, and deliver it to 310 charities and schools. To put it simply, there’s the environmental issue of food waste we’re trying to tackle, and there’s the fact that so many children and adults live in food poverty across London.
The Felix Project was founded by Justin and Jane Byam Shaw, whose son Felix died suddenly from Meningitis in 2014. One day, Felix had come across some other children at a football tournament that said they hadn’t had anything to eat that day. He was full of compassion for those without his advantages, and The Felix Project was born out of the search for a way to commemorate Felix.
How do you generate income to do the important work that you do?
The majority of our income comes from large-scale partnerships and trusts and foundations. For instance, we did a campaign with the Evening Standard two years ago which raised £1 million, enabling us to set up a new schools programme to help feed children and also expand our operation to meet demand for surplus food. This programme now delivers food to 120 schools.
I think the greatest challenge for charities will be the need to develop a sustainable fundraising approach, which will involve moving away from relying on big campaigns. There’s also the fact that the fundraising market is difficult at the moment, due to the challenges individuals face. It’s important to be aware of how the political landscape and national financial challenges impact individuals.
And what do you think is the biggest challenge facing charities today?
How do you think organisations can meet this challenge?
The fundraising world is difficult: this means organisations need to be more transparent than ever, and communicate their message more clearly than ever, so individuals feel happy to donate. It’s all about understanding who your audiences are and what their motivations are. Not everyone will be motivated by the same message, so charities need to differentiate their communications according to the different motivations people have for giving their money or time.
It’s clear to see that trust has fallen in the charitable sector as a whole. There have been a number of high-profile scandals in the last few years, and it shows in public perception. This brings us back to the real importance of transparency. People want to see exactly where the money they donate goes to, so charities must place a real focus on the impact of donations in their fundraising efforts. This is all part of fundraising ethically: we try to let people know the true impact their donations will have in terms of tackling food waste, food poverty and the impact it has on the environment.
I think it’s at the front of people’s minds when it comes to strategy, yes. Over the next months and years, it will be a vital factor in the landscape we’re operating in.
Do you feel affected by Brexit?
So how does The Felix Project leverage technology to meet these key challenges?
We use databases, one for our fundraising supporters, one for our volunteers and one for our suppliers. But I think we could do more in terms of how we utilise technology. As technology improves, it offers the opportunities to access more insights on our supporters and connect the dots of our organisation together. There’s always more than can be done using technology that will allow us to be more proactive and productive, and give our supporters a better experience too. Given the future of automation, we should all be seeing technology as something we can benefit hugely from, rather than something that doesn’t work for us.
A key trend will be more strategic relationships with corporate partners. That means charities will need to consider how they fit with corporate social responsibility programmes, and what they can give back to organisations to build strategic and sustainable partnerships.
Another trend will be the use of advanced tools to help with insights. There’s a lot of useful technology out there that many are missing out on, because they’re afraid of it or they simply don’t have the knowledge or resources to engage with it. There’ll be an increasing focus on the power technology holds to help us develop ourselves as organisations.Finally, a trend when it comes to donors is the need to communicate exactly where their money is going. We’re a trusted and transparent organisation because people can clearly see where their money goes when they donate to us. This will be a focus in years to come and is already starting to be seen with social return on investment.
What advice would you give to those entering the UK charity sector?
Be clear about your objectives as an organisation, and stick to those. Make sure they’re reflected in clear messaging.
When approaching fundraising, have a clear idea about where you want to get to. You’ll need a strategy, whether its a 3-5 year plan or a demonstration to others about your objectives.
Prioritise! You can’t do everything at once. Most charities work with limited resources, so you’ll need to work out which avenues offer the best ROI for your time, whether that’s recruiting new volunteers or establishing new fundraising streams.
Have a diverse fundraising strategy. You’ll need to have a number of income streams to ensure you can keep up your service, not just a single fundraising stream which would have a real negative impact if it shuts down or is compromised.
What are you proud of as an organisation?
We’re proud to be delivering enough food for 6.5 million meals a year. From when the organisation was founded three years ago, we’ve grown to be able to impact a large number of people’s lives by delivering to 310 schools as well as holiday programmes reaching around 100,000 people weekly.
We’re also hugely proud of our volunteer base, which is a vital part of The Felix Project. We have 400 active volunteers and 100 corporate volunteers that really drive us forward as an organisation. They’ve helped us to provide healthy meals to those that need it most and help the most vulnerable in our society.
To find out how ToucanTech might be able to help your organisation with the challenges facing charities in 2019 and beyond, send us a quick email or fill out our contact form!
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