Making the decision to implement a new fundraising strategy is a very important and necessary decision for most charities. But the cost of getting it wrong can be great – both financially and legally.
Is Your Charity Ready To Fundraise?
Many organisations decide on implementing a strategy before they have properly reviewed and audited their internal and external environment to ascertain if their organisation is indeed ready to fundraise and which steps need to be taken to pave the way for a successful and sustainable fundraising programme.
Here are 8 things to check to see if your organisation is ‘Fundraising Ready’:
- Do you have a Business Plan? The FSI Small Charity Survey 2015 revealed that only 15% of charities they surveyed had a formal business plan. Your Business Plan should be the cornerstone of what is driving you to implement a Fundraising Strategy. It should demonstrate what the organisation is hoping to deliver to its beneficiaries and therefore how much funding is needed and for what. In the commercial world it would be near on impossible for a business to gain investment or drive sales if it didn’t have a plan for how much investment was needed and how that investment will be spent. The same applies to charities. Many funders, particularly major donors and Trusts and Foundations will want to see that your organisation has a plan, so that they can give in the comfort of knowing that their ‘investment’ in your cause will be spent wisely and have a desirable impact.
- What is your case for support? If your organisation is to successfully inspire people and organisations to donate money, you will need to develop a compelling case for support. Your case for support should be able to effectively describe the following:
- Your organisation and the work it does
- Why your organisation exists – what unmet need are you addressing?
- What makes your organisation different to others that work with similar beneficiaries?
- What is your organisation trying to achieve?
- How will donations help your organisation accomplish its goals?
- What is in it for the donor? For eg, does your work also address what the donor is trying to achieve with their philanthropy?
- Review your resources. Charities often have limited resources available to them, which will impact the scale and type of fundraising they can feasibly take on. Resources can refer to a number of things, including:
- Budget – do you have any budget to spend on fundraising, if so how much and is it likely you will have this amount to spend the following year?
- Staff- what are your staff’s strengths? What are their skill gaps? How can these roles support a fundraising strategy?
- Trustees. Does your organisation have a trustee with fundraising experience? Or someone who is willing to take on responsibility of Fundraising? Having trustees who are involved with fundraising is key to the success of any fundraising programme. It is also a necessity that has been highlighted since the collapse of the charity, Kids Company in 2015, which underlined a lack of Trustee governance with regards to fundraising. The Institute of Fundraising has since launched ‘Trustees and Fundraising – A Practical Guide’ for trustees to understand their role in Fundraising.
- Does your organisation have any well-known supporters who could act as ambassadors? Do you have corporate contacts who would offer pro bono services such as design work/ Social Media support. Does your trustee board have any influential or high-net worth contacts they could introduce to the organisation?
- Supporter base – how big is your database of supporters/contacts? Do you have sufficient consent to contact them about fundraising?
- SWOT up – conducting an organisational SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis is a really great insight into what strengths and weaknesses your organisation currently has. Use it to identify any areas for potential opportunities and also to highlight the main threats to the organisation. Think about how your strengths can support a fundraising programme. On the flip side, how might a fundraising programme tap into new opportunities or help to address your current weaknesses, turning them into opportunities. What are the perceived threats around fundraising? How can your organisation minimise threats and risk.
- What are your fundraising success stories? Where has your organisation’s funding been coming from so far? Have you been successful in gaining grant funding? Or perhaps local businesses have been approaching you to support your work. Are you noticing any new trends? For example, an increase of people wanting to take on sponsored challenge events for your organisation. Where your current voluntary income is coming from will give you a good indication of what to focus on in your Fundraising Strategy. A Fundraising Audit will help you identify where exactly your organisation is in terms of fundraising, what is working well and help you develop a Fundraising Strategy.
- What are your competitors up to? A good way to help identify trends in the sector or to give you an idea of what may work for your organisation is to see what your ‘competitors’ are up to and where their fundraising wins are coming from. I use the term ‘competitors’ in a very loose sense, as I have always found the charity sector, unlike the commercial world, much more collaborative and willing to share information. When trying to identify your competitors, there are a number of ways of viewing this. You could look at organisations that work with similar beneficiaries to yours, or charities in the same geographical location, or charities the same size. Contact a charity that fits each description to gain a range of insights. There may be some useful information you are able to provide to them too as a trade-off.
- Data Protection – It’s the buzzword of the charity sector at the moment. Many high-profile charities have been subject to hefty fines and bad press about poor data protection practices. If your organisation wants to promote fundraising events or appeals to its database it’s critical you ensure that sufficient consent has been obtained. If you think that your organisation may wish to conduct appeals or even wealth screening in the future then make sure your privacy and consent statements are updated to detail exactly how you plan to use personal information and get unambiguous and explicit consent for each method. The new General Data Protection Regulation, which comes into effect in May 2018, will require you to prove consent.
- Manage your expectations. Be prepared to invest some time and income into implementing a sustainable Fundraising Strategy. There are not always quick wins in fundraising and you can expect it to take some months before you see the returns. Do the preliminary work and ensure that your organisation is Fundraising Ready. Conduct an Audit to ascertain which areas of fundraising you should focus on and what resources you will need to implement your Fundraising Strategy.
For more information on how Nova Fundraising can help your organisation get Fundraising Ready please contact me to discuss further.