Fundraising can seem like a minefield to charities who are fairly new to it, don’t have dedicated fundraising staff, and are doing everything on a bit of a shoestring. The good news is you really don’t have to reinvent the wheel! I’m passionate about ‘the fundraising fundamentals’ – quite simple things that can really change your fundraising for the better and enable you to harness what you have, to inspire people to support your work. Hopefully my session and this short blog will give you some ideas.
There are many different types of fundraising streams. It’s important to be focus on what streams you want to pursue – the more income streams you are working on, the more audiences you have to manage and the more resources you will need. Different streams will bring in either restricted or unrestricted funding, have different lead-in times, and different returns on investment (ROI). If you want to get more data about fundraising ROI, LarkOwl have produced a brilliant benchmarking report for the last few years: https://larkowl.uk/fundraising-benchmarking/
I would recommend you focus on just two or three areas if you are a small organisation without much, or any, dedicated fundraising resource. I’ve concentrated below on fundraising from trusts and foundations, since many charities start here.
There is a whole conversation to be had about the inefficiencies of the grant funding system and how this often upholds structural injustice (https://www.civilsociety.co.uk/news/charity-sector-spends-900m-a-year-applying-for-grant-funding-report-finds.html) but fundraising from trusts remains an important income stream for many smaller and more local charities.
A couple of points before we look at the research and application process:
Before you start – make sure you have a fundraising plan in place with the entire project costed out before you start fundraising – with more prospects than you need. Check how much you need secured before you start the project – this will depend on your organisation, your annual turnover and how much you have in reserves.
Be mission-led – It’s easy to ‘follow the funding’, but it’s important that fundraising should not be leading the prioritisation of what your organisation delivers. Of course it plays a part – but the development of new projects needs to be led by your charity’s plans and the need for your work.
There are more than 12,400 trusts and foundations in the UK, and that’s not including other grant-makers such as National Lottery, Landfill Communities Fund and local authorities. Researching prospects takes time and good record-keeping is crucial – if you already have a record of previous successful and unsuccessful applications, start there – it costs far less time and resource to get support from an existing or past supporter than a new one so do prioritise these.
Keep a grant pipeline spreadsheet or database, and use this to record the grant maker’s interests and anything useful about them. For example, when are their next deadlines coming up? How much do they give? What is their application process?
Some good places to find funders are:
P = People
L = Language
A = Ambition
N = Need
S = be Specific
Rosie has worked in fundraising for more than ten years, and is currently Head of Fundraising and Communications at London homelessness charity Thames Reach. Previously she worked as Head of Development at arts and homelessness charity Streetwise Opera, after spending seven years at London Wildlife Trust in various roles including Head of Fundraising. She has fundraised for a variety of causes including the environment, children and young people, health, arts, homelessness and has also led a £2.9 million capital appeal. She holds a Diploma in Fundraising and has recently joined the board of the Badger Trust. She is passionate about inclusion in the charity sector, the amazing difference fundraising can make, and cats.
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