Donations are the life blood of the majority of charities so unless you are a millionaire or have other sources of finance you are going to need help to maintain and grow your organisation. I have seen many charities that have amazing potential but lack the resources to convert all those great ideas into reality.
Donations come if many forms, it could be people’s time, money, services gifts, experiences but the key factor is that it is something given without anything required in return. The challenge is to motivate people to donate and to do this you have to put aside time and resources. It doesn’t matter which of the above types of donation you are seeking, if you get the basics right you will generate them all.
OK so what are the basics?
You have probable heard of the acronym “Keep it Simple Stupid” and you should remember this at all times. Marketing is not rocket science although some of the marketing companies would have us believe that it is, there are awards out there for the best advert, the best designed direct mail campaign and so on, I have been to directors meeting where the CEO,s of large charities proudly produced there latest full colour newsletters, whilst they may impress each other I doubt that many supporters will be impressed, the majority of supporters I have talked to want to see as little of their money as possible spent on marketing and as much as possible on the core activity. So it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t look slick, it’s what you are doing with your supporter’s money that’s important.
I can remember an article a few years ago now in one of the leading charity magazines was comparing direct mail campaigns including one I was running for The Donkey Sanctuary, my campaign was branded, “amateur, and homespun” whilst the others received glowing reviews. I didn’t complain because the homespun approach returned over 12% response rate against an average of the time of around 3%. That SIMPLE direct mail campaign recruited over 50000 new supporters in four years and raised millions of pounds in donations.
Pictures speak a thousand words (or a million for the right one!)
Always carry a camera with you when you are on welfare missions or in fact at all times, that one picture that portrays the nature of your work will be worth more than anything else and could launch the campaign that puts your organisation on the welfare map and brings in those much-needed funds. Believe me you never have enough good usable pictures so take as many as you can whenever you can. After all with digital technology it doesn’t cost anything!
Exposure = Confidence = Donations
The more the name of your organisation is seen by the public the more they will have confidence and support your work, very few people will donate on seeing something for the first time so it’s important to build up your image in stages, blowing your whole advertising budget on a media campaign can be a terribly costly mistake. You need to put your stories out there in the free media as much as possible and when you have a really good coverage than back it up with your marketing campaign. To do this you need to build up a rapport with your local journalists, every week you should be planning to send out a press release, if you are planning a rescue or other activity that might be of interest to the public then let the press, television, radio know, they may just be looking for a story and if they bite it could be fantastic for you.
Although there is a lot of competition out there the internet is a very powerful fundraising tool, the secret is converting those Facebook, Website and Blog supporters to donators. I used the Internet in the project in Spain and Italy with good success. Digital is an idea opening fundraising strategy as you can reach a wide audience with relatively low investment.
The value of a diverse supporter Base
I have seen quite a few charities get into trouble because they relied on just a few major donors, large donations whilst always fantastic news can also cause an organisation to grow beyond their means in the longer term. Having many smaller value supporters whilst being more time-consuming provide security for the future. With very good charity databases on the market, many free of charge up to a certain level it is much easier now to look after many supporters and provide them with the kind of service that will reward the organisation with a lifetime of support. Remember also that a lifelong supporter is also likely to leave a legacy! Building a database of loyal supporters is a hard task but if done correctly will ensure the success of the charity for the future.
Grants and Company Sponsorship
There are grant making trusts and companies out there with budgets available for charitable use, all you have to do is convinces them that your organisation is the one they should support! I have applied for and grants and been successful in getting them.
Paid Marketing Campaigns
TV adverts, radio, newspapers, direct mail, magazines, leaflet drops, the list goes on and on. You can easily spend a fortune and get very little in return but… if you get all your other pieces in place all these mediums can be very effective,. There are also ways of minimising the costs for charities.
Ok I know I have not provided much detail here but this post is just about the basics, to bring the above ramblings to a point, the basics of good fundraising are;
to remember KISS at all times, collect as much photographic material about your project as you can, use every free method of PR at every opportunity to build your organisations public profile, use digital media to maximum effect, build a database of supporters and look after them, approach grant making trusts and businesses for support, launch paid for marketing campaigns only when your profile is high and get special charity deals, read this blog to find out the details
I hope you found this post helpful and look out for further posts where I will be providing much more information about the subjects touched on above.