Meet our Expert

Conchita_GarciaConchita Garcia – Head of Projects and Fund Development, Foundation for Social Improvement

Conchita began her career in the charity sector after joining her first small charity where she gained experience in project management, fundraising and PR. Within the FSI Conchita is responsible for planning and delivering projects as well as raising funds from companies, trusts and individuals. 

“One of our donors is insisting on visiting a project which they donated to last year. However, the project is not finished and is behind schedule. Is it ok to say no and explain the situation to my donor, or should I go ahead and risk upsetting them with the apparent lack of progress?”

The answer

Whenever we enter into relationships with donors it is with our best laid plans which are based on previous successful models. Or if it’s for a new project, this will be based on a sound model that has been carefully thought through in advance and planned with a business case.

However, just because we have made these plans it doesn’t mean that our project is going to run alongside them! Ninety per cent of projects, even those that charities have run before, are likely to come up against barriers and stumbling blocks. The most important thing to do, therefore, is to be prepared to communicate progress with your funders – whether they are major donors or trust funders.

Being open and transparent helps us to build relationships with our funders, so in my opinion the best thing to do would be to inform the donor of the current status of the project. When doing this, it would be useful to include information on the reasons for the delay and any specific actions or changes to the plan you have made to mitigate these, so the funder can fully understand any issues that may have risen. In regards to their request to see the project, rather than saying “no” to the donor, you could offer them the option to visit the project as it currently stands, to visit the project on completion as planned, or to have two visits. By doing this you are making sure you are listening to the funder regarding their specific needs and you’re showing you’re able to be flexible to meet their requirements.