• About Us
  • People
  • Our Approach
  • Clients
  • Resources
  • Contact
  • Integrated Education Fund (Belfast, Northern Ireland)

    Northern Ireland’s Integrated Education movement is about providing the opportunity for the children of the region – Protestant or Catholic, any religion or none – to be educated together, not apart. Segregation robs children of the chance to learn, play and make friends with ‘the other side’.

    The Integrated Education Fund was founded in 1992 in Belfast with seed funding from the European Union, the local Department of Education and two major philanthropic trusts. Its mission is to provide a financial foundation for the growth of integrated education in the region by enabling parents to build new schools or transform existing ones.

    In 1998 the Fund launched a campaign to raise £10m in 10 years to reach 10% of the school population. Given the lack of pre-existing relationships, the sensitivity of the subject matter and the absence of a natural pool of supporters (such as alumni or subscribers) the decision was made at the outset to run a major gifts campaign.

    By 2002, momentum had slowed and the Board was concerned that the Campaign was not hitting mid-term targets. One of the key donors, a major Irish American foundation, shared their concern and agreed to provide funding for external counsel. Frankie Airey was commissioned to conduct a review. The brief was to benchmark IEF’s fundraising against international best practice while acknowledging the very particular set of circumstances within which the organisation operates.

    The main finding was that there was nothing intrinsically wrong! IEF boasted a willing Board, skilled executive and fundraising staff, and a small but growing donor base. However, it appeared that the initial planning process had not tailored the standard development principles to the Northern Ireland, and specifically IEF, context. This had fostered an unrealistic expectation of workload, division of responsibility and timescale among both the Board and staff. In turn, this created a sense of disappointment as the scale of the exercise became apparent and targets were not being met.

    In addition to advising on general tactics and processes, the report recommended a clearer operational framework for the Board, the wider volunteer network and the staff. This not only helped to identify gaps in the external network but also, and perhaps more important, reinforced unity of purpose and improved teamwork across the whole organisation.

    IEF applied the recommendations over the ensuing months. As a result, annual income began to exceed target the following year, and has consistently done so ever since.

    The relationship continued after Frankie returned to Australia and established Philanthropy Squared. She has returned every 2 years to provide objective analysis and guidance. As the organisation grows in stature and confidence, the issues and challenges have changed too.

    The 2004 review focused on improving communications with key target groups and spreading the geographic reach of the volunteer and donor base. By 2006, the total raised is over £13m in cash and pledges – well over the campaign target, 2 years ahead of time. This strategic and operational review helped to explore the very vision and mission of IEF as it prepares its strategies for the next 10 years. It is interesting to note that the donors themselves were among the most vocal advocates for maintaining the pace and scale of the fundraising effort in the years ahead.

    back to clients