The Dynamic Growth in Continental Europe
It’s not just the lure of culture, tapas and vino tinto that is bringing many international NGOs into the Spanish fundraising market, or the Coliseum, pasta and Barolo that draw them to Italy. As the third sector globalises and acts as a counterbalance to the enormous forces of global business, it, too, is moving into new markets as traditional ones become saturated, and new opportunities overseas are on the horizon.
Not all international charities are keen to take on the challenge of investing in growth too far from their cultural and geographical bases, so they have looked increasingly at Eastern and Southern Europe as underdeveloped markets that offer new fundraising opportunities.
When INGOs look to Southern Europe, Italy or Spain usually end up at or near the top of the list. Both markets have a fair degree of cultural similarity, but have differing advantages for an outside NGO to take into account.
Italy is a more mature and developed market than Spain. It is well-represented by the major international-brand fundraising organisations and has thriving, indigenous national and regional charities covering all aspects of civil society.
A relatively wealthy G8 country with a population of just more than 58 million, Italy represents a sizable market for fundraising. There are around 221,000 active nonprofit organisations in Italy. These organisations raised $2.7 billion in 2002 from individuals, companies and foundations. It is estimated that only 20 to 30 organisations use “professional” direct-marketing-led fundraising techniques. This presents a significant window of opportunity for INGOs that have well-developed fundraising tools and encourage monthly giving via direct debit.
There has been growth in donor numbers and revenue in Italy, but there’s potential for even more. Growth has been via cold direct mail and off-the-page advertising with occasional bursts of recruitment via TV telethons and massive response via SMS to emergencies at home. However, in recent years cold direct mail has taken a significant decline in effectiveness; new donor recruitment via new media/Internet is not delivering the same volumes; and a drastic shortage of supply of professional face-to-face/door-to-door fundraising means that charities in Italy are struggling to achieve much more growth in new donors, focusing on increasing the value of their current support bases and keeping attrition low.