This article includes tips and resources for fundraising. The first section includes tips from a Melbourne Campaigners’ Network session held in 2012. The second section lists helpful resources.
Tips from Melbourne Campaigner’s Network
The Melbourne Campaigners’ Network session included an activity by Naomi Blackburn and presentations by Sarah Johnson (experienced not-for-profit fundraiser).
To kick off the session Naomi Blackburn invited small groups to workshop how they would raise $10,000. What would $10,000 mean to your project or campaign? How would you determine the best approach to raising money? Many of the ideas people came up with were tailored to the strengths and resources of the groups involved.
Sarah Johnson shared from her extensive experience in fundraising in the environment movement as well as for an arts institution. She shared these valuable tips for building a donor base:
Have a database
An effective database allows you to keep track of all the interactions someone has had with your organisation: actions they’ve taken, donations they’ve made, and of course their contact details…
You can’t contact someone if you don’t have their details. Every campaign activity should be an opportunity to build your list.
Know your people
Code the contacts in your database so you’re able to get a summary of who is interested in particular topics or has taken particular actions in the past. That way when you ask them for support you can tailor your request to their interests and level of commitment.
Start with supporters
People who already have a connection to your organisation and support its mission are far more likely to convert that support into a financial contribution than ‘cold calls’. It is also much easier to reengage than to engage someone for the first time. That is, if someone has already made a financial contribution they are more likely to again in the future than someone completely untried.
Tell your story
Have a brief but compelling ‘elevator pitch’ which communicates what your organisation or campaign is, why it is worthy of support, and what will be the result of a donation.
Ask for money
You’ll never get money if you don’t ask people for it! Don’t let awkwardness or feelings about money get in the way of asking for what is needed (the post on Empowered Fundraising has some great points on this). Think of asking people for money as a way of giving them an opportunity to take action about something they care about.
Operational vs Project costs
Many philanthropists and government funding rounds will not make money available for ongoing costs, and other donors may not view them as worthwhile. Look at how to ‘carve out’ parts of your budget into discrete projects, for example printing materials or holding events.
Welcome different kinds of support
If a person or organisation or company is not able to make a donation can they provide in-kind support instead? For example, printing, use of facilities, labour… or can they connect you with others who can offer support?
Manage your finances
Ensure you are accountable for the money you receive and expend. Make sure you issue receipts to donors.
Get a sense of the interests of philanthropic wealthy individuals so when you approach them you can make an appropriate request. Such people get numerous requests – you save them time and increase your likelihood of success if you’ve done your homework.
It is incredibly important to thank people for their support. It’s best to do this without too much delay – even if you thank them first and send out a receipt later.
More Resources on Fundraising
- The Funding Centre on ourcommunity.com.au includes a range of resources on fundraising and grants for Australian not-for-profit organisations, including grants database, step-by step guides, help sheets and fundraising tools.
- GiveNow.com.au is a commission-free website listing thousands of good causes and creative ways to give, a personalised donations tracking service, and a free giving newsletter. Setting up a GiveNow account allows you to take credit card donations seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Along with collecting donations via the internet, you will also be able to promote donating by phone, fax, post and bequest.
- Crowdfunding platforms: Pozible, Chuffed, StartSomeGood, My Cause
- Fundraising for Human Rights – a summary of the international online dialogue hosted by New Tactics in Human Rights, January 2012.
- The US Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training (GIFT) produces the Grassroots Fundraising Journal, an excellent source of information and shared lessons. Also see their channel on YouTube.
- Philanthropy Australia provides information to those seeking to understand, access or partner the philanthropic sector.
- Read The Zen of Fundraising by Ken Burnett, a handy resource for all stages of a fundraising campaign.