8 steps to fundraising success

Figures from the Charities Aid Foundation show that UK adults donated £10.6 billion last year. The UK’s top 400 companiesgave £658 million to voluntary and community organisations, on top of the manythousands of formal and informal relationships that exist between businessesand not-for-profits. This may seem like a big pot, but of course, there’s noshortage of competition between organisations seeking a share of it.

Success demands that you set out your stall in a compelling way. It alsorequires a thorough understanding of your potential donors: who they are, theircriteria for giving and how to ask for support in the right way. Here are eightsteps for getting it right.

1. Define your organisation’s case statement or “essence”

Whether you intend to appeal to individuals, businesses, public bodies,charitable foundations or a combination of all of these, you need a clear pitch.Why do you exist? What’s your philosophy? What problem are you trying to solve?How will you go about solving these problems? Your case statement (or“essence”) sets this out.

A well-defined essence can be split into six elements:

Vision. Aninspirational picture of what type of global outcome you strive for. Forinstance, “Our vision is of a society that promotes and protects good mentalhealth for all, and that treats people with experience of mental distressfairly, positively and with respect” (MIND).

Purpose. Here, youare identifying what contribution you intend your organisation to make towardsachieving the vision.

Mission. Yourmission is your gameplan; an outline of how you plan to achieve your purpose.

Strapline. A shortphrase or sentence which sums up your organisation and highlights what makes itunique.

Values. Theprinciples and standards that define how you will carry out your work. This isimportant for establishing your credentials as a well-run and trustworthyorganisation.  

Beliefs. Whereasvalues are concerned with how your organisation works, your beliefs define howyou see the wider world outside of that organisation - e.g. “every youngentrepreneur has the right to support and mentoring”. Whether or notindividuals and businesses share your beliefs is likely to determine whetherthey will be willing to support you.

2. Draw up donor profiles

Fundraising resources are finite, and there’s a danger of spreadingthose resources too thinly. To get maximum return on your efforts, the firsttask is to understand your donors. Who are they? How can they be reached? Whatfundraising methods are most likely to hit home with them?

Starting with your existing donor database and supplementing this withexternal research where necessary, you can answer these questions by drawing updonor profiles. From this research, you should be able to see patterns in termsof demographics, interests and the most effective platforms for reaching them.These profiles or pictures of typical donors can then help you target yourefforts more effectively.

3. Choose your fundraising methods and platforms to match your donorprofiles

For instance, if your research shows that your typical donors are young,socially aware yet averse to the idea of direct debits, your approach might bevery different to the way you would approach prospects of an older demographic.Similarly, focusing your efforts more towards LinkedIn as opposed to FaceBookmay be the best way of targeting potential corporate donors.

4. Identify “easy targets” first of all

This is especially the case if you are seeking support from businesses.From what you know about those businesses, either firsthand or through readingtheir ‘About’ pages, which ones are most likely to share your beliefs? Whichones have a track record of supporting good causes? When you make yourapproach, make sure it’s personal as opposed to sending a generic batchemail.  

5. Research eligibility for grants, foundations and corporate funds

The government’s Funding Central portal should be checked regularly.The latest edition of the Guide toMajor Trusts from theDirectory of Social Change is another useful source of information on theopportunities available to not for profits.

6. Focus on donor loyalty

Here, it’s a matter of fostering and not taking for granted the supportof existing supporters. So rather than ignoring these supporters until it’stime to ask for more money, work on ways to stay engaged with them. Your choiceof method for this - by email newsletters and/or social posts, for instance,will be determined by the profile of those donors.

7. Invest in storytelling

From tweets to banner ads, emails to postal letters, your donors arefaced with a stream of messages from organisations on a constant basis. Acompelling story is a must - as is demonstrated consistently by successfulnot-for-profit crowdfunding campaigners.

The National Trust ‘Save theWobbly Bridge’ campaignis a good example: a single, realistic aim, a story told by real people and anelement of giving something back to donors. It was well-targeted, not at allcomplicated or expensive in production - and yet wholly successful.       

8. Embrace supporter-led initiatives

The No Makeup Selfie and Ice Bucket Challenge phenomena both came notfrom genius marketing managers but from ordinary people (a young mum and acollege student respectively). There are a couple of lessons to be learned fromthis. 

Firstly, don’t underestimate the creativity of your grassrootssupporters. Secondly, if a great idea does emerge, it’s sometimes best to runwith it and allow it to take flight naturally, rather than attempting to takeofficial control over it. Here, focus more on being on hand with educationalpress packs and staff to field direct enquiries about what your organisation isall about.

Thinking of launching a new fundraising initiative? Whether you’re awelfare establishment or in the care or education sectors, museums or the artsthrough to village halls, international aid and any other not for profitorganisations, we use our breadth and depth of understanding to developexclusive charityinsurance products and services in conjunction with specialist insurers.