One more post about fundraising…
I wouldn't call myself an expert fundraiser. I still feel lucky to have been able to raise all the money I did for Project Trust, it really took me by surprise how quickly the total shot up. Nevertheless, as requested, I am going to attempt to give some inspiration to future fundraisers, Project Trust Volunteers or otherwise, through a few top tips that I have learnt during my short money raising adventure.
At the beginning, I panicked. £5400 was about tenfold the amount of money I had ever dealt with in my life, and I felt like I had to pluck it out of thin air. Or I’d be in serious debt to my parents, or stuck at home with no plans for a whole year. What had I got myself into? I thought it was impossible.
It turned out that a certain amount of urgency was a very good thing. If you get the ball rolling as soon as possible, then by the middle of your fundraising it will have picked up considerable speed. The first thing to do is to tell everybody about it, then clear plenty of space in your timetable.
I started getting the word out about my fundraising in October. Notice how the results are not immediate- it’s only after about a month and a half that the money really starts to come in. If you have limited time to raise your money, you can’t waste that month and half.
If you are raising money for a charity, on behalf of a charity or to do something educational or charitable, then the next step should be to start researching charitable trusts and writing letters to them. You will be amazed by the number of these organisations out there, but will find it difficult to find any sort of detailed information about any of them. I have three main tips to do with trusts.
- Research as thoroughly as possible and cross-check everything. Only write letters once you are sure that the trust’s aims match what you are doing and that you are eligible to be given a grant from them. Sometimes the information from one source is vague, but a quick Google search will shed more light. You should expect to spend most of your time saying “No, no, no, no, maybe…. actually no, no, no…” Treat it as a great success when you come across a trust that is worth writing to. It will take several days of research to come up with a good list, but keep reminding yourself that there is no other way you could earn £4000 from a few days’ work.
- Focus on local trusts. 94% of the money I raised from trusts came from Scotland, and almost half of it was from within my home town. Location is a way for trusts to see you as connected and relevant to them.
- Personalise letters. Once again this will take a lot of time, but if you write a couple of sentences in each letter to show that you understand the aims of the trust you are writing to, and how what you are doing is relevant to them, your success rate should be a lot higher than if you send exactly the same letter to every trust.
My pie chart shows quite how substantial the portion raised from charitable trust can be.
- Think about what you are good at, and think about what your friends and family are good at, as you will need their help. As a keen musician it made sense for me to go busking, and hold a fundraising gig. However due to my atrocious marketing skills, I left the ticket selling for the gig to other, more persuasive people. Don’t be afraid to show off what you can do, and ask for lots of help in holding events. Every helper will probably spread the word to other people, and the chances are they will donate some money too.
- Target different groups of people each time you hold an event. I held dinner parties for my parents’ friends, which raised lots of money without putting any more strain on my own friends. Busking in Perth, Dundee, Edinburgh and even Surrey spread the cost over hundreds of members of the public, just giving a couple of coins each.
- Timing is important. Look back up at the line graph and notice how steep the gradient is over December- Christmas is prime time for all fundraisers. Hitch on to other celebrations too- Bonfire Night, Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day, Easter… If you are putting on events for your own age group, think about catching people at the end of term or just after exam periods.
I think the most important thing about any fundraising mission is to make it your own. Give it your unique style; see if you can come up with something that hasn't been done before. Take other people’s ideas and turn them on their head or combine them in new ways. There are endless lists of ways to fundraise, but the best one for you is the one that you design or tweak yourself.