Monday, 11 March 2013

Fast Fundraising... on your marks, get set...

Scenario:  you just got the teensiest bit of seed funding to dip your toe in the water of getting a volunteer project off the ground.  It's basically enough to pay a person (you) to work on it for three months.

You are desperately passionate about the project and you have the backing of an existing not for profit. Unfortunately, that not-for-profit, like so many, is fairly skint.  The cupboard is bare.  You need to stand on your own two feet... and fast.

What the devil do you do?

Scream? Panic? Run for the hills?  

Of course not.

You audit. You develop your case for support.  And damn it you get out and about and talk to people.

Audit?  Sounds a bit lengthy to me... 

Nooooo.  This is a fundraising audit. It's to check your readiness for fundraising.  But for God's sake don't spend forever on it - you only have three months remember! You need to be nimble and swift as a hungry cheetah.

Let's strip it back to the basics.  Can you accept donations and claim gift aid?  If not, for crying out loud get on to it.  These days, it's easy.  Assuming you're a registered charity, set up a justgiving page and suddenly you have the ability to take internet donations, sms donations and automatically reclaim gift aid.  You can get busy with your crowd-funding.


Yeah, that's the new name for something that once fell under the umbrella of community fundraising.  It's about getting the many busy fundraising on your behalf.

How do you do that?  

You share your compelling case for support, of course.  Remember?  Why this? Why now? Why you?  You know it inside out and back to front.  It's on your facebook page. It's on your crowd-funding mechanism.  It's on the postcards you give to your friends.

Blah, blah, blah...  I meant, how do you share it? 


  • You're proactive in contacting people. 
  • You go to events, exchange cards and follow up.  
  • You contact journalists and issue press releases.  
  • You cold call people and ask if you can see them.  
  • You write to charitable trusts who give in your area.  
  • You work your friends and family for routes into local companies, solicitors firms (dealing with small charitable trusts) and to run community fundraising activities for you.  
  • You ask them to put collection boxes in their houses.  
  • You get them to host events.  
  • You use every inch of your social capital to ask people to give. 

Rainbow House gets busy community fundraising

Gulp. Ask? 

Yes you heard me.  No ivory towers here.  You ask people to give you money make a difference (feed the homeless, stop violence against women, save the donkeys...). By giving money.

Bah! A few hundred quid?  

Well, let's hope for more than that.  But more to the point, you're not just thinking about the money, you're thinking about the bodies.  You don't just want a few hundred quid, you want a few hundred people.  An army of people on your side.

Which brings us back to the audit.  Sorry to break it to you, but you need a database.  No, not a database. A customer relationship management system. Ahem.

Oh come on. I have THREE months and no money! 

*hands up* I know, I know.  But still, you need a way to record your donor's details - all of them - and to thank them. And you need to keep in touch with them about what you're doing.  Think about it:

You give £20 to Charity A.  The next day you get a call from the project lead who thanks you enthusiastically and tells you what that seed funding money will do.  Three weeks letter you get an e-newsletter which tells you what the project has achieved in the last month. A couple of months later you get a call asking you if you'd think about giving a regular £5 a month.


You give £20 to Charity B.  You never hear from them again.  You like to think your money is doing good - it got Charity B off your back anyway.

Which of these charities do you imagine will be operational in a year's time?  Which do you think has a growing donor base?

Communication is king.  Retention rules.  Stewardship is super.  For more on this read THESE three golden rules on getting that difficult second gift (hat tip, Rachel).

Make sure you have basic systems in place to enable you to thank and keep in touch with your donors. We can't all afford Raiser's Edge, but most of us can run to an excel spreadsheet.


That's it Damn it, you have THREE months - and a project to get off the ground.  Who do you think you are, superman?

Three simple (okay, not simple) steps:

1. Audit (and set up systems if there are none in place)
2. Develop your case for support
3. Go forth and multiply your donors

Good luck!

Piece of cake. 

Well precisely.  What's stopping you?



Related Posts:

What I learned at the IoF National Convention and What I'm Going to Do about it
Learning to be a Strategy Superhero
Fundraising isn't just Fundraising. Fact.
Important Stuff every Organisation Should Think About.
Top Tips for Fundraising in our Times
Development Operations: Getting started

No comments:

Post a Comment