A five-minute read for busy people who work in small charities about charity fundraising ideas.
Working with smaller charities has been an eye-opening experience for me [writes Andrew Baiden]. From the extraordinarily well-organised to the so-far-laid-back-it-isn’t-clear-they’re-awake smaller charities and their administrators, managers, fundraisers, trustees, workers, and ‘friends’ are an interesting and diverse bunch. From working with these many different types of people and organisations, I have learned a few things that I think might be of help to some:
1. Appoint an appeals manager
If donations are an important part of your charity’s activities – and let’s face it, what charity can do without money – you need someone to be responsible for raising funds and coordinating the activities to raise money. It might seem obvious, but the role should be completely independent of day-to-day running or of doing what your charity does. It just has to be a separate person.
2. Recruit an appeals manager
Employing people is expensive right. So, if your charity can’t afford it, get someone who is willing to help on a voluntary basis. Surprisingly, there are lots of people who want to be your appeals manager: Retired managers with time on their hands are waiting to be asked to come and help you; so are Enthusiastic Students who want to make a difference, bless ‘em. Advertise within your community. But, be clear what you want them to do before you ask them to come and join you.
3. Define your objectives
It’s the toughest question in recruitment and indeed in running a business, but get it right and everything else gets a whole lot easier. For an appeals manager, it might be as simple as “Help us to raise £1,000 from online donations for the first time”. But try to be specific. The biggest fails happen when you don’t know what you want, and the person listening to you thought you wanted something completely different.
4. Create a schedule
Do you have all your key dates written down in one handy place that you can share with anyone that needs to know? Thought not. You might have a really good idea about what is going to happen this year, but you are still likely to be surprised by some weekend thing you said you would come along to. Write. Everything. Down. If you are asking someone to raise money for you, they need to know when it makes most sense to do it. They need to plan.
5. Create a mission. Set a target
I know how good your charity is. I know how important the work is that it does. I’d give you all my money if I could. But if you want Joe Schmo to make a donation you need to break down all the good stuff you do into something simple that they can get their head around. “You need a new bus to get the old people / kiddies into town twice a week? Sure, I can support that”. Turn your charity fundraising ideas into a specific request for a specific thing: “We need £5,000 to help buy a mini bus to take local people into town – can you help us?”
6. Get a financial sponsor
Once you have your specific request, it suddenly gets a lot easier to ask business people for a little help. You need a pitch. “You would be helping local people to catch a bus into town and your business name would be on the side of that bus and on the tongues of a thousand potential customers. And all for just £250”. If you don’t have one already get a list of local business people for free from LinkedIn.
7. Create content in advance
Most Appeals tend to be of a time limited duration. Spread them out over a year and people will forget or worse lose interest. Set a time limit. Make it a month, for example, and make sure that you have plenty of time to get everything ready in advance. Write articles about what you are aiming to achieve. Take some pictures to get your message across. If you’re confident makes some videos; this is less frightening than it might seem, but get used to doing now, and a year from now you will wonder what all the fuss was about. Don’t publish these things until you are ready.
8. Tell your regular fundraisers and donors
Back to that schedule thing. Tell your regular supporters what you have in mind and when you are planning to do it – as much time in advance as you can. They have busy diaries of their own, and you know that the Big Charities are always trying to hoover up your best supporters. Tell your fundraisers and donors what you are doing, what you want to achieve, and ask for their help. And they will.
9. Make it easy to accept donations
The days of rattling our tins will be with us for a long time yet, but the times for charity fundraising ideas, they are indeed a changing. The Big Charities are online and that is where they are seeing the most growth. If you have not already done it your website needs a “Donate Here” button on every page and at the top of every page in a prominent position. If you have not already done it, ask your friendly donations service provider to do it for you. They can do it and they will be only be too pleased to do it for such a good cause as yours.
10. Get a media partner
If you are lucky every media outlet you approach will take your carefully crafted content (see 7 above), and publish it on the front of their newspaper / news website. However, make sure you avoid disappointment by identifying your relevant media outlets and the people who write for them. When you are ready to launch your campaign, make sure they get the message. If you can, make sure that one of them is willing to support your story as it develops. For a short period of time you will want to share regular news updates and it would be great if you already know someone who is willing to publish for you.
11. Recruit friends
OK, so I said there were ten ways. You’ve told everyone about your appeal, but reserve a special place for friends. Create a Facebook page, if you don’t have one already, and invite people to join you as your campaign unfolds. You aren’t asking them for money, but if you are patient and share the fun and excitement of your Appeal, they will ask you how they can help. And they will.
Asking for donations can be daunting. But it doesn’t need to be. Break the task down into small manageable slices and suddenly even the biggest challenge becomes achievable.
Andrew Baiden is Nochex Commercial Director and full of charity fundraising ideas for smaller charities.