How to raise more money in your community There are three main ways of raising money: • To be lucky enough to have an endowment, which is invested and produces a stream of income each year for your work. Unfortunately, few of us are so lucky. • To write applications for a grant (from governmental sources, international donor aid, foundations, major corporations). This is what most of us spend most of our time doing. • To raise money in our community, locally and from people who are interested in supporting what we do.
Why raise money in your community? Here are three good reasons: • It is additional money. • It is independent – raised for what we want to do, not tied to specific projects. • It demonstrates community support – whcih can strengthen the organisation. It may be quite hard to get started, but once the money starts to come in, it is possible to increase the amount you are raising year by year.
So... 1. Get started. It’s never too soon. And if you’ve already got started, try to raise even more. 2. Organise events and fundraising activities that will help you generate the funds you need. 3. Learn how to ask effectively. Many fundraisers find this hard. I will be giving you ten key things to do. But first, let’s do this...
An exercise in asking You will be invited to volunteer to ask for a sum of £20 (around $40) to spend on doing something worthwhile. You have to: Introduce yourself and the cause or organisation that you are working for. Say what you want to raise money for, and tell people why this is important. Explain how much you need and what it will be spent on. Say what this will achieve (the impact on people’s lives, for example). Give two reasons why people should want to support your project/idea (rather than support somebody else’s) After the presentations, the audience will vote on who has given the best presentation and deserves to get the money. We will then explore what makes a good “ask”. And some of the things that you can do to become more effective in asking for money.
Ten ideas for successful community fundraising Idea 1. Speak out: tell as many people as possible about what you are doing The more people who hear about what you are doing, the more support you will get. So go out and tell as many people as possible about your work, your achievements and your future plans. Offer to give talks whenever you can arrange to do this. The more you speak out, the more people you will find who are interested in what you are doing... and the more support you will get. • Prepare a short presentation about your work, your plans and the support you need. Set yourself the challenge of talking to at least 10 audiences during the course of the next 12 months. • Get your colleagues (staff, volunteers and board members) to agree to a similar challenge. • Whenever you speak, mention ways in which people can support you. And make sure that all of these are included in your leaflets. • Give out leaflets and business cards at meetings and conferences. Take lots with you wherever you go. Even if you are not a speaker, you can get yourself and your organisation noticed. At question time, don’t just remain silent. Ask a question. But do make sure that you mention your name and the wonderful work that your organisation is doing. If people show an interest, you next need to ask them for support. Many fundraisers are afraid or embarrassed to ask for money. Are you? Set yourself the challenge of asking lots and lots of people. Stop being shy about this. • Go out armed with leaflets. Whenever you meet people (if there is a suitable opportunity), mention the work of your organisation and give them a leaflet. Make sure that you ask them if they would like to support you. • Chat to people queuing in a shop or at the next table in a restaurant. You never know who might be interested. Just as an exercise, go up to the first person you see in the street or in a queue, and ask them if they have a minute or two if they would, like to hear about an extremely important cause… and see if you can persuade them to support you.
Idea 2. Get lots of media coverage for your work Getting media coverage will be very helpful. People will already have heard about you and your work before you approach them, and this makes fundraising far easier. So spend some of your time trying to get publicity on TV, on the radio, in the press... • Do what you can to get publicity for your organisation and its achievements. Don’t be shy. You are not doing it to inflate your ego, but to help you raise money for the important work you are doing. Set yourself a target of getting some sort of media coverage every month. Try to ensure that a website address or contact phone number is included in the article. • Develop your media contacts – get to know journalists working on the local and national press, with local and national radio, and with TV. They will then turn to you if there is an issue they want you to comment on. You can approach them when you have a story. Whenever you have a success that you want the world to know about, send off a press release. You can also ring up some of the journalists you know to see if they are interested in writing about it. Do this when: • You have just received a large grant. • You have achieved a significant success. • You have an important event coming up. • There is a topical issue which you want to comment on. Sometimes you can organise an event or an action simply to get publicity – either for the issues you are dealing with or for the work that you are doing. This will tell people that you are an organisation that gets things done. Here are some things you can do to get publicity: • Petitions with lots of signatures, which demonstrate the extent of people’s feelings about an issue. • Marches and demonstrations, where people are prepared to stand up in public for what they believe in.
• Stunts, such as handcuffing yourself to a government minister (Families Need Fathers) or destroying GM crops dressed in protective suits (Greenpeace) or erecting a banner of the Dalai Lama on Nelson’s Column (Act for Tibet). Invite the media to cover your action by sending out a press release (embargoed until the time that the action is scheduled to take place). Send out your press release (with a photograph) afterwards, so that people who didn’t come along have the chance to write about you. The more visibility you create in your local community, the better it will be for you. Neighbourhood festivals, street collections, high profile fundraising events, posters put up everywhere (even pinned to trees), all this will help increase your local presence.
Idea 3. Ask for things. This is often a good starting point. A good way of getting started in fundraising is to ask for things to be donated – things that you need for your work, services and professional advice, people’s time to help you, things that you can convert into cash at a fundraising event (such as an auction or a raffle). The telephone is an extremely powerful way of communicating with people. It is far more personal and far more immediate than an e-mail. Use the telephone to help you ask for gifts in kind. This will work much better than sending letters and e-mails. Make a list of everything you need and think about who might have it. This is sometimes called “A Wish List”. Then telephone and ask for the item to be donated. If you need it for just a short time, you could ask for it to be loaned. If they are not prepared to give it to you for free, then you could ask for a big discount. It’s best to ask as directly as possible. Talk to the person who can make the decision. Or go in person from shop to shop. Once they have given you something, thank them for their generous support. Keep in touch. Tell them how useful their support has been. Go back and ask again when you next need something. Make them feel that they have become a valued supporter. They may end up by giving you money as well. Here are four more ideas for using the telephone to make your fundraising more effective: • Telephone people to say thank you when they have sent you a generous donation. Tell them how much their support has meant to you and what you will do with the money. • Telephone companies and foundations after you have sent off your application asking for support. Ask if the application has been received. Ask if there is any more information they need. Use the opportunity to invite them to come and see your work. • When you have met someone at a conference or a meeting who has shown an interest in what you are doing, telephone within a few days to suggest a meeting, • Telephone people just for a chat or to ask for advice.
Idea 4. Think about how to get your first 100 donors It’s really easy for an established organisation with a big supporter base to get new members. It is far harder starting out when you have to sign up your first supporters. But you need to start small if you are to grow big. Think about how to get your first 100 donors. Here are some ideas: • Ask friends, family, colleagues at work; and ask the team that is working with you to help you with your fundraising to do the same. • Get some local publicity for what you are doing. • Contact other organisations whose work is complementary and ask if you can include some publicity about what you are doing with their newsletter. • Make a “hit list” of people you would like to approach, then work out the best way of reaching them and persuading them. • Ask to speak at meetings – at colleges, Rotary lunches, conferences, workshops, wherever (see Idea No. 1).
• See if you can find a link between what you are doing and other people’s interests. For example, if you are trying to raise money for literacy work in the developing world, you could approach book reading groups in your own country. People living nearby in your neighbourhood may be interested in hearing about what you are doing. Go out and tell them. Be a good neighbour to them, and they might become a good neighbour to you – by supporting what you are doing. Here are some ideas for things that you can do: • Go house-to-house in your neighbourhood. Knock on people’s doors; ask for a minute of their time to tell them about your organisation (which is just around the corner) and your work. Give them a leaflet. Ask if they are interested in being kept in touch. • Organise an open day or evening when you can invite people to come and have a drink (or a coffee), be shown around your building, hear about your work and meet some of your beneficiaries. • Put up posters to publicise your work in local bars and libraries. • Display your newsletter on the community noticeboard. First ask people just to come and see what you are doing. Then make sure you keep in touch. Later you can persuade them to make a donation or volunteer. If they show real interest, ask them then and there.
Idea 5. Invite people to come and see what you are doing If people see the work you are doing at first hand – if they meet you and meet the people you are helping – then they are more likely to support you. Make sure that as many people as possible come to see you and your project. The challenge is to get lots of people to visit you. They will want to see more than just an office – they will want to see real people being helped, your organisation doing useful work. Show them volunteers answering helpline calls, young people engaging in sport, homeless people using a day centre, citizens being advised... • Invite potential funders and people who are already supporting you. They will understand the needs and the way you work better. They will have seen your commitment. They may even have had an experience they will not forget for a long time. • Offer your space for people to use for their meetings – and include a brief tour. • Have a display in your entrance area for casual visitors, and give them an information pack. If you know a celebrity who is prepared to host the evening or just come along as a “star guest” that will be a great draw and it will encourage many more people to come along. (See idea 7)
Idea 6. Organise a really FUN fundraising event Fundraising events are not only a good way of raising money, they can also provide a fun time for your staff, your committee members, your volunteers and your supporters. You can use an event to enthuse everyone about the work of the organisation. They can help you get publicity. Think about organising one really great event a year. There are all sorts of ideas for events: dinners and dances, quiz evenings and bridge evenings, film premieres and pop concerts, sports competitions and picnics, karaoke evenings and talent contests, village fetes and school fairs, auctions and sales… What you choose to organise should build on the interests of whoever is doing the organising; but it also needs to be right for your supporters. Your event should be fun to organise and fun to come to. But it should also be designed to raise lots of money. A sponsored event can be a really good way of raising money. It will involve lots of people raising money from their family, friends and colleagues at work – who are happy to support them in their fundraising efforts. There are all sorts of sponsored events you can organise: • Events that relate closely to your cause – such as a give-up-smoking challenge or a fun run for a health charity, or a litter pick for an environmental organisation. • Events that involve lots of people of all ages – such as a family walk (or “strollathon”) or a fun run. • Hard challenges – such as participating in the London Marathon or a triathlon.
• Exciting activities – such as doing a parachute jump. • Events that capture people’s imagination – such as a sponsored jail break to get as far away as you can in 24 hours. • Team events – such as a team marathon with participants running in relay. Some companies like to enter teams of employees for these (competing so that their team becomes the winner). Participants should be given a target for how much they will raise. Then you must make sure that they collect all the pledges they have obtained, and then that you collect the money off them.
Idea 7. Turn promises into cash There are lots of things that money can’t buy that your supporters will find attractive. If you ask people to donate these to you, you can then auction them off. An auction of dreams is a really simple way of raising money. • Someone may have a holiday home which they are prepared to offer for a week. • People may be prepared to do chores for you, such as mow the lawn, babysit, act as a chauffeur, cook and serve a meal… • Fitness clubs, restaurants, hairdressers can all offer you vouchers. These could be for periods which are otherwise slack and they could even help bring in new customers. • A celebrity may be prepared to do something special for you – if you ask them nicely. For example, a drummer in a famous rock group could offer a drumming lesson followed by a glass of champagne. Get lots of exciting things to auction, and find someone who is lively to act as an auctioneer. Explain what the money is to be used for. If there is a good atmosphere, then you will find that people will bid generously.
Idea 8. Involve celebrities in your work Involving a celebrity is a great way to attract support and get coverage in the press. Film stars, TV personalities, pop stars, sporting heroes... find someone that’s right for you; then ask them to help. Here are some ways in which celebrities can help you: • Writing an introduction to your latest publication or for your annual report. • Being a guest of honour at a ball or village fete. • Opening a new building or launching a new project. • Participating in a sponsored walk or other fundraising event. If you don’t know a celebrity, you could: • Ask around. There must be someone who supports your organisation who knows someone famous. • Decide the person you would like to involve; then write to them (more usually to their agent). This can work. • See who lives near you, and find a way of approaching them directly. • See who is appearing at the local theatre or the important golf tournament being held nearby. Then discuss your idea with the organisers. • Wait outside where they are (the stage door, for example)… and just go up and ask them. You never know!
Idea 9. Get yourself a website... and encourage on-line giving and action Every organisation needs a good website. Many people make this their first point of contact with your organisation when they are trying to find out what you do. Your website can become a great ambassador for your work, as well as encouraging people to take action on the issue or to support your work. • Look at other people’s websites. Make a list of those you really like; then try to incorporate the best features of these into your own website. • Encourage people to take action on the issue. Give them a range of simple, practical, effective things to do. • Encourage people to give on-line, pledging their support and paying by credit card. If they can do it taxeffectively, then that’s an added bonus. Just Giving is one of a number of organisations which will handle this
for you (in the UK and USA) and help you and the donor obtain tax relief. www.justgiving.org.uk. Or there is GiveIndia in India, which does something similar.
Idea 10: And finally... Get going now. Don’t hang around waiting to learn all there is to know about fundraising. Get started now. Start fundraising today. Set yourself the target today of getting one person to support you. Once you have done that, you will really be on your way!
ACTION PLAN You won’t raise any money unless you actually go out and do something. So make a list of 10 things that you will do that will help develop your community fundraising. This can include things that you have already thought about as well as ideas that you have gained from this workshop. Write down your 10 things below. And remind yourself to do all of them when you get back home. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
Michael Norton May 2008 email@example.com www.civa.org.uk Sign up to receive a monthly newsletter on ideas for changing the world at: www.365act.com Visit Michael Norton’s blog at: http://365ways.blogspot.com
Here are three good reasons: • It is additional money. • It is independent – raised for what we want to do, not tied to specific projects. •...