Power up your fundraising - five ways to get started
Know your numbers
When you first start out fundraising it is so important to know your numbers. How much do you need to run your project per term? Per year? Does that include staff and overheads (rent, utilities, decorating) or not? What is the cost per person benefitting to run your project (divide the total cost per head)? With a few simple calculations you end up with some powerful numbers. Now you can quantify what you need you can make a clear and strong ask to your supporters. Even better, turn these into pledge points; “Will you pledge £10 a month? This could fund two families to attend our Parenting Course” - these are a great way of engaging your donors with your project.
Don’t put your all your eggs in one basket
A diverse income is a sustainable income. You shouldn’t rely on just one type of fundraising to secure all the income you need. You might start with asking for regular donations from your congregation (their monthly giving) but also consider writing applications to trusts and foundations, approaching corporate supporters, running fundraising events, nurturing relationships with those who may give larger sums of money philanthropically and make sure you are looking to make the most of any commercial income you could generate (through merchandise, letting part of your building, running a cafe).
Take professional advice
If you can find a professional fundraiser in your congregation or network then see if they have time to support your organisational fundraising. Chances are they will know the local climate, might have contacts within trusts and fundraising or might just be able to advise on strategy. If you have the funds (and I urge you to consider it an area for investment) then consider hiring a professional fundraiser to focus on a particular area of fundraising such as trusts and foundations applications. It can pay dividends to get guidance and will help you be far more time-efficient in the long run.
Measure your impact
You shouldn’t fundraise for a project that you can’t demonstrate actually does what it says on the tin. As part of your planning, make sure that you build in key indicators that demonstrate that your project is achieving what you set out to do. This isn’t just about the number of people attending a course or Sunday morning service but about what change you are seeing in people’s lives. There are some great resources out there for charities to use to help them plan their impact reporting, try the Charities Evaluation Service for starters. You should report on your impact as often as you report on your finances, expect trusts and foundations to want to see clear measurement processes in place and to want a report on how their grant is playing a part in your impact as an organisation.
Make it personal and say thank you
Most donors and supporters like to feel involved and to know they are making a difference. People generally don’t give money to something that they don’t feel an emotional connection to so get ready to tell your story and don’t forget to say thank you. Build relationships with those around you, share updates with your congregation or your network. It is said that someone needs to hear/see an ‘ask’ three times before acting this may mean donating or it may even just mean reaching out to find more information. Keep communication channels open and make it easy for your supporters to connect in personally so they feel part of the project. This might be through update emails, social media news stories or catch ups over coffee. Don’t forget to say thank you often and certainly make sure there is a balance between saying thank you and making an ask for more money.