Fundraising can be tough if you’re a small charity with limited resource and it can often feel like the larger charities tend to get the lion’s share when it comes to grants and donations and there could be some truth in this. Recent reports state that 80% of giving is directed to just 3% of charities. Add to the mix that over 500 charities closed last year (many of them small charities struggling to compete with larger organisations).
So, what can small charities do to help improve their chances of gaining funds in an ever competitive funding environment?
1. Understand what’s working for you what’s not
A Fundraising Audit is one of the most important stages of the fundraising process. It helps you understand the environment that your charity is working in, as well as what has been working well for you so far. With this in mind it can really help you identify the right funding opportunities for your organisation, as opposed to going after loss leaders and wasting valuable resource.
Audits can be as detailed as you are able to make them (resource allowing). For the resource limited organisation, the key points to focus on are: External Analysis – what’s going on in the communities you are working in and the people you are working with – try and keep this as specific to what your charity does or is trying to achieve; Internal Analysis – where money has come from in the past and who gave, how much; Competitors – what are charities who serve similar beneficiaries or who are a similar size to you doing? How well are they doing it? At the end of the Audit summarise your key strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in a SWOT analysis.
2. Get a Fundraiser on your board of Trustees
Trustees and Fundraising. It’s been a spotlight issue since the collapse of the Kids Company in 2015, with the charities commission revising guidelines about the role Trustees play when it comes to Fundraising. But beyond the due diligence and governance, having a fundraiser on your board of Trustees can really help your organisation’s income. They can help to create a fundraising culture within the organisation, advise and guide fundraising strategy and help you get the right people on board to implement fundraising. Just bear in mind that what they are not, is a ‘free fundraiser’, so with that in mind, be sure to recruit someone with the right experience for your organisation and with a passion for your cause.
3. Use your local volunteer and community services
Most areas in the UK have groups that help support community groups in recruiting volunteers, accessing local and national funding and operational activities as well as legal and compliance issues. These include:
➢ Community Foundations – Provide grant funding and loans to local charities, connecting local philanthropists with causes they care about.
➢ CSV/ Volunteering Matters – Helps get people into volunteering for charities.
➢ Volunteer Centre – Helps charities find volunteers and connect individuals to volunteering roles
➢ There are also a number of organisations operating regionally under difference names to support charities in training, recruitment and volunteering. Your local council may be able to point you in the right direction
➢ There are also national groups such as the Institute of Fundraising, NCVO, FSI and the Small Charities Coalition which all provide advise, support and training opportunities.
One of the many things that I love about working in the charity sector is the openness and general willingness to share experiences of fundraising and even offer some advice over a coffee.
Join any local networks in your area, such as regional Institute Of Fundraising Groups, attend events, or join one of the many social media groups on Fundraising. You may be surprised by how many others are in a similar situation and how you can help learn from each other.
5. Get the advice of a professional.
This needn’t cost your organisation lots of money, there are a growing number of free and very discounted schemes operating, such as, the Small Charity Coalition’s mentoring scheme and regular training sessions, or the FSI’s events and Advise Hub, which connects you to a professional fundraisers in the area you are working in.
If your charity does have the funds available then a Fundraising Consultant is an effective and efficient way to get your fundraising off the ground without tying you in to employing someone. You can hire generalists who can help get you started in fundraising, or people with very specific skills for the projects you have in mind. The Institute of Fundraising offers a list of consultants who are members of the Institute of Fundraising.
If your charity would like more advise on how to get ahead on fundraising chat further with Emma-Louise.