Happy New Year to all! In 2017 I advised a number of charities on their fundraising strategies, and one of the most common problems I came across was “putting your eggs in one basket” i.e over-relying on one or two sources of income. When thinking about diversifying your income streams, think about the fundraising mix (grants from individuals, trusts and foundations, corporates, regular giving and events) but also think about non-philanthropic income, for example by developing and testing commercial opportunities. At the moment trading income makes up only 11% of voluntary sector income, but this is bound to change as pressures on the fundraising environment increases. Check out more on this blog by Tom Barratt, director and founder of Frodas – an independent consultancy that works with charities to grow their earned income and become more financially sustainable: https://www.institute-of-fundraising.org.uk/blog/why-arent-we-trading-more/
As you will notice I have not updated this blog for over a year… I have been busy and productive but completely forgot about marketing, social media and blogging! So my tip #4 is KEEP YOUR WEBSITE UPDATED! You should not bite off more than you can chew with this kind of venture. Keep your messaging fresh and don’t start blogging if you are going to go off the idea soon afterwards! Sorry everyone – I’ll try and get back on track with this from now on.
Tip #1 was “Don’t treat fundraising as an add-on or you won’t find time for it”
Tip #2 was “Focus on a handful of quality relationships rather than spreading yourself too thinly”
Tip #3 – Play to your strengths
Building on a handful of quality relationships should tie in with playing to your strengths. Does your organisation have strong links with big corporations, in-house experience in events fundraising or board members who are well connected with trusts and foundations? An effective fundraising strategy must play to these strengths – don’t make your job harder than it needs to be or think one size fits all (e.g. “we are a medical organisation so pharmaceutical companies should be giving to us”…)
My first tip was: “Don’t treat fundraising as an add-on or you won’t find time for it”. But how you can put fundraising in the heart of your cause so that your work can become sustainable right from the very start?
Linked to this question, my second fundraising tip is “Focus on a handful of quality relationships rather than spreading yourself too thinly”. Do you have one or two key funders who really believed in your vision and backed you from the start? Value them and look after them!
Many businesses focus the majority of their time and budget on acquiring new customers, rather than on retaining their existing ones. Yet studies show it costs five times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one! Charities should learn from this. If you are busy and/or do not have any dedicated fundraising staff, concentrate on keeping your funders on side through regular contact and reporting, and be honest and transparent with them. Not only will this increase their loyalty – it is likely that they will back you with more funds the next time you ask them, and they will also recommend you to their peers.
One of my plans for this blog is to share fundraising tips and (hopefully) pearls of wisdom on fundraising for small NGOs based on my experience to date. In an overcrowded charity market, where thousands of worthy causes are clamouring after limited donor pounds/dollars/euros, it is very hard for small charities to compete with large, well-known brands. They need to focus their energies on the fundraising areas which will bring in the resources they need – but this is no mean feat!
So my first tip is: “Don’t treat fundraising as an add-on or you won’t find time for it” – fundraising should be at the heart of what you do, not an after-thought. Many people start charities with a great idea then hope for the best when it comes to funding it. If you are not happy talking about money, or thinking of ways to secure it, don’t start a charity at all!
In my next blog I will give my second tip and build on how you can put fundraising in the heart of your cause so that your work can become sustainable right from the very start.