Fundraisers: don't be shy! - Refugee Council
June 13, 2008

Fundraisers: don’t be shy!

On Tuesday I was in Chelmsford for a workshop organised by Practical Design for Social Action (PRaDSA) entitled ‘Where the Money comes from – funding Technology and Social Action projects’.

I was seeking advice for RCOs looking to fund new media work and, although the first day was about fundraising in general (I wasn’t able to make day two), there was an excellent presentation by Tim Jones from Solar Associates.

I was particularly struck by his insistence that the key to raising money is making relationships. In fact, if only one thing sticks in my mind from his entire talk it will be that “Fundraising is about relationship building, not just filling in forms.”

Successful fundraisers, Tim said, take time to speak to potential funders. They call up to talk through an application and then arrange a meeting for more detailed discussions. They listen to what the funder says and modify their bid accordingly. And, if successful, they feed back as fully as possible to show how the money is spent.

Perhaps that sounds obvious, but it seems that when organisations are trying to raise money the obvious is sometimes overlooked.

Other tips from Tim’s presentation and the subsequent discussion included:

  • Don’t be tempted to apply for funding outside your key areas of work – stay focussed
  • Individual giving is on the rise – people really are happy to give if you ask them in the right way
  • Today’s funders tend to have a clear expectation of outcomes – applications must demonstrate a specific need and how it will be met
  • Online fundraising has loads of potential…
  • …But old favourites like cake stalls and coffee mornings still work.

In the next few months I’m planning to look more closely at how developing a website or blog can help RCOs to fundraise, both through direct payments and by presenting an attractive ‘shop window’ for their organisation. I’ll post more details here as I go.

In the meantime, here’s what Tim Jones said he’d been told were the Three Rules Of Fundraising:

  1. Ask
  2. Ask big
  3. Ask again.

In other words: “Don’t be shy!”