The Fundraising Challenge Within The Charity Sector

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Fundraising, Fundraising and more Fundraising, a crucial and often difficult task within any charity. Should it really be that difficult? On paper, the U.K. is Europe’s most generous country in terms of donating money, volunteering time and helping a stranger. You only have to turn on BBC for Comic Relief to see the true generosity of this country. Whilst the public’s appetite for kindness has certainly not died, the decision making process of who and how to support has certainly become more complex.

The Charity sector in the UK continues to grow in numbers with 167,109 voluntary organisations in December 2016, a growth of 7,000 since 2012/13 (CaF). In the same day an age, allegations of fraud and improper use of funds continue to scare potential fundraisers and shake up the charitable world.

This sets a challenging landscape for any charity, no matter how big or small, to gain the trust and somewhat compete for the support of the general public. Having worked as a PR and Media manager for a local charity offering national support, I have learned some useful tips that I believe to be extremely important to any fundraising initiative.

PLANNING FIRST.

The key to gaining support is having a plan for your charity’s key activities, before asking for people to fundraise and help the cause. A helpful idea with  ‘good intentions’ isn’t enough to gain public support. However, it is hard to come up with big ideas for projects to support your intended audience with little very funding; particularly for larger projects that require a lot of capital expenditure. What comes first, the chicken or the egg?

A clear roadmap of a project with an expected outcome and fundraising targets is far more effective than a charity asking for individuals to donate to the ‘overall’ charitable activities. People like to see exactly how they are contributing towards a cause. A project roadmap will also come in handy whilst applying for grants.

HAVING AWARENESS OF HELPFUL ORGANISATIONS.

There is an incredible amount of support given by organisations and businesses throughout the UK that can be found with a simple google search. It is important to keep up to date with the offerings of both local and national organisations. These organisations will not just help create that roadmap but also fund it. Here are a few…

The Directory Of Social Change and the Charities Aid Foundation provide useful tools and tips for fundraising and often run seminars and events to help charities improve their fundraising efforts.

Beehive Giving gives you access to a collection of funding bodies that offer a range of financial grants for specific causes. You can search for specific project grants to help with your fundraising efforts.

Many Local Council authorities also offer their own grant schemes and contests to award local charities. Contact your local council to see what they offer in terms of charity support.

Google Ad Grants offer a grant of up to £7,500 per month which can be used to create specific adverts that increase your charity’s online presence helping you push fundraising initiatives.

HOW CAN WE BECOME EVERYBODY’S CHARITY OF THE YEAR?

Corporate support is a big topic in the charity sector as it offers an opportunity to fundraise a sizeable amount of capital whilst requiring minimal effort from the charity itself. This type of support is also highly competitive, with a lot of corporate bosses choosing charities that may be close to their personal or employees hearts.

For the charity, it is important that you target organisations that share similar values to your own cause. E.g. A Secondary School will be more likely to choose a charity with projects directly affecting local teenagers, as opposed to one helping the homeless. The better the alignment, the more effective the relationship as the organisation will feel more passionate in fundraising for the cause.

You must also pay close attention to the timescales in which organisations of interest choose their ‘charity partners’. A school may choose their partner by academic year, a company by financial year, a football club by season.

Lastly, be patient and appreciative of the level of support you receive from an organisation, a long lasting relationship may start off as a small kind gesture.

BE PROUD TO SHOW YOUR WORK.

To build a continuous relationship with your supporter, it is important to showcase what you have done with their donations. I think this is an area that charities tackling more ‘human’ problems often struggle with. How do we share the work we have done, whilst being sensitive to the individuals we have helped?

It is no secret that the public love an emotional story. We donate millions of pounds to Comic Relief because of the emotional stories that they tell and the vivid video’s they show of real problems along with the solutions. That puts charities who do not wish to put their clients stories within the public eye at an instant disadvantage. Fear not, times are changing; the public are getting smarter and as powerful as an emotional story may be, I think that they are getting wiser to see through a story and look for the facts.Charities who do not wish to put their client’s stories within the public eye need to focus on these facts.

“This project helped xyz number of people by doing xyz”

“Your specific donation of xyz will achieve xyx”

Alternatively, if you was looking to put together some case studies you can always ask your clients permission to include an unnamed case study or to provide an anonymous quote for a media piece.

As challenging and overcrowded as the charitable sector may be, there is enough support out there to accommodate charities with good motives, that have key differentiation from other charities along with an effective structure and plan.

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