Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Reasons not to ask Elton John for a fiver

Fundraising?
No way. I'm going to a party in the county jail. 
Okay, slightly facetious title, but bear with me.

Every year the Sunday Times publishes a Rich List. Every year celebrities Do Stuff for charity. We know about these things because they are in the newspapers and on TV.  If someone very wealthy or very well known does something - anything - for charity, we often know about it.

That's handy.

It's also unfortunate. Because if WE can read that information so can about 60 million other people. "Hey look! Elvis just funded Greenpeace because he wants to save the whale. I do sort of environmental stuff (well I work with donkeys) - maybe he'll fund me too!"



Uh huh.

Ok, imaginary scenario: Let's say you set up a charity a couple of years ago. You've won a couple of grants, got a bit of lottery funding and maybe delivered a project for a local authority.

Excellent.

And then there's a recession.

Crap.

You're sitting at your desk staring glumly out of the window, when inspiration strikes.  You're not going to be beaten. You have important work to deliver.  Anyone with a heart and mind would fund it.  So you write a list. Let's imagine it goes something like this:

Elton John 
JK Rowling
Bono 
Bill Gates
Wayne Rooney
Brian Souter

Rich people. Philanthropists, even. All you need to do is speak to them.

Elton by Eva Rinaldi (CC image)

Ah. There in lies the rub. Unless you're in Elton's book club, or go dog walking with JK, it's fairly unlikely that you are going to get to speak to them. You might be able to write to them. Or rather, to their agent. Or the Director of their foundation. But that will be you and about a thousand other people.

You might get a response. You might even get a gift, but the fact is, like fossil fuels and parental patience, no one's resources are inexhaustible.

Well sod that. You can do things a smarter way, and it goes something like this....

When you're thinking about potential funders large or modest, three criteria apply:

1. Capacity - can they give?
2. Propensity - do they have any affinity to you?
3. Route - can you get in touch to start a funding relationship?

This sounds like big gift fundraising. It's not. It's any kind of fundraising.  You might be looking for a wealthy oligarch with a soft spot for grey hounds to fund your dog rescue home.  You might be looking for an elderly widow of modest means with a passion for geology to support your outreach project. You might be looking for one gift of a million, or one hundred gifts of three pounds a month.

It doesn't matter.

What matters is that you are talking to the right people, at the right time, in the right way about the right amount (for them) (and for you).

So your funding potential is as big as your reach. Who do you know? Where can you go? Who can get you there?

Let's say you're a local, community-based organisation helping to support families with complex needs.

Let's look at that again.  Local. Community. Families.

Family by Eric Ward (CC license)


Who do you think your audience is?  Who do you think you might appeal to?

What about companies who like working with charities who can offer volunteering opportunities?

What about local solicitors who manage small, relatively unknown charitable trusts?

Who do you know that other people don't know?

Who do you have an affinity with that other people don't have an affinity with?

Take your eyes from the headlines and look about you. Your natural allies might be just around the corner. 

So let's write that list again:

Dunedin Food Cooperative (charity partnership)
LM Banks Solicitors 
Trustees (each to secure five regular donations)
People living in local area (low cost door drop appeal + ask people to take charity boxes)
Elton John (well you never know do you)

Think long term, not smash and grab. Think about building relationships for the long haul. And before you know it you might just be Brian Souter's charity of the year.

Need to do all this in a hurry?

You'll find a how to guide right here.

Margaret

@collectivemarg

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