How to be More Effective at Fundraising

by | Apr 4, 2022 | Emma Willder

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Guest post by Freelance fundraiser, Gayle Derrick.

As the CEO of a charity, you know how much effort goes into fundraising. Figuring out ways that work for your charity, where funders come from and how to target new donors takes time and energy. All of this is necessary, though, in order to get what the charity needs most – money!

Money is what allows the charity to run, it’s what funds the staff involved and the all-important activities, whether that’s funding conservation efforts or helping homeless children. Without money, a charity wouldn’t be able to help those who need it.

These are tricky times – with recessions and pandemics, people are already struggling. We’ve all been at the board meeting; we’ve all been told we need to do more fundraising and concentrate on unrestricted income.

So, against this backdrop, how do we supercharge our fundraising in 2022? Here are my top tips on how you can become more effective at fundraising.

Step One: Focus

As a small charity, your resources are limited so you’ll need to make your efforts count. It’s easy to be distracted by ideas for winter balls, ladies’ lunches, and auction prizes. However, making fundraising work for you and your charity means concentrating hard on what brings results.

Look at where you’ll get the most return for your investment. That investment is your time as well as your budget and resources. For most small organisations, this includes grants and trust fundraising. You may have capacity and skill in-house; for some small charities, this is done by chief executive or an operations manager. However, in others, it’s outsourced to a freelancer or consultant.

Use your time and energies to think about which projects you have that might be attractive to funders. Visit sites such as charity for free lists of trusts that might fund your cause.

Step Two: Refine Your Message

To fundraise effectively you need a solid proposition. What are you asking somebody to do and why should they do it? Make it clear what you want people to do.

It might sound obvious but make it clear on your website and in your charity communications that you are a charity. Make it clear on your website and in your social media channels that you need to fundraise. Give examples of what donations could do for the charity. For example, £10 could clothe a refugee child who found themselves homeless. 

Step Three: Options

Now that you know what you want people to do, it’s time to create several routes for donors to be involved that suit peoples’ time and financial abilities. Some people want to give a straight donation, others are ready to take on a challenge event or host a quiz night, bake sale or raffle on your behalf. Someone to volunteer. Make sure you have a few ways for people to get involved with you and support your charity.

Step four: Cast Your Net

It’s definitely worth spending some time thinking about who your donors might be, and where they might be. Think about the science about why people give. Think about why you give and who you give to. Whilst this can make some charity squeamish, the first place to start can often be your service users. Who better to know and advocate for your services?

Next, take a look at your Trustee board. Is there any influence? Spend a session with your trustees discussing their role in fundraising ask for the help share details of the key local companies and Charitable Trusts that you think might support your work. Ask if there are any connections.

You need to define your target audience just like any business does. This will make it much easier gaining the financial support from people who genuinely care and are interested in helping your charity.

Step Five: Love Your Donors

Those most likely to donate to you are likely the ones who have already given. Many charities make the mistake of going to find new donors thinking that new is always best. If you haven’t already got one, develop a donor solicitation plan. Sounds fancy, eh? It’s not, it’s common sense.

Treat your donors like you would like to be treated if you donated to a charity. Thank them personally. Keep them informed. Tell them how their donation made a difference to your charity and the people that use its services. Ask them to give again. All fundraising research illustrates that people need to be asked consecutive times and repeatedly.

Step Six: Tell Your Story

Tell your charity story through the eyes of your service users. A bank of impactful case studies is a fundamental building block of fundraising; a good case study will bring your work alive, dovetailing with any statistics to indicate why you’re the best people in your field.

This is your chance to show off why your charity is so important and best placed to deliver the services.

Step Seven: Strategise

Link your organisational strategy to your fundraising and take your donors on a journey with you. Tell them what you want to do this year and next year. Show them the steps you need to take to get there. Then ask them to help you to do it. 

Step Eight: Utilise Resources Available

Make it easy for someone to give you a gift. Use the raft of fund technology available to your advantage. Recent CAF research indicates that many donors now give online, and the pandemic only increased online users. One-click technology on sites such as just giving and fuse and DONR make it easy and less time consuming to donate.

How many times have you abandoned an online transaction because there’s too many stages or because they are asking too much information? Make it mobile-friendly, make it quick and easy. Make sure you test all the technology on your site regularly.

Step Nine: Your Online Presence

Make sure that your charity’s online presence reflects all of the amazing work that you’re actually doing. Use your website on social media accounts to thank donors (if appropriate), to showcase your work, to talk about new initiatives and to demonstrate your charity’s impact.

Finally: ASK!! 

“Build it and they shall come”. Hmmm, not quite, but don’t be shy!

So many charities bemoan their lack of donations. “We’ve set up online functions and text giving but we never get anything through.!” Think about it for a moment… have you told anyone that they can give by text? Have you asked them for a donation? Have you told them why you want their hard-earned cash?

It might seem brazen and forward to outright ask, but there’s no shame in it. As they say, “you don’t get if you don’t ask.”

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