Please can anyone give me advice?
I am working for a charity that has been established for 30 years and has never had a fundraiser until now. Their main source of income has been generated from the sale of educational products to a specific market segment, bringing in just under 800 k approx.
I am raising money from trusts and corporates and had very little success. Although i see the charity being very successful as they have been able to sustain their charitable activity i am worried that this does not help ‘the ask’ for donations. Our financial reports are very positive in terms of profit from the sale of products and good salaries but this may not be good in the eyes of a potential donors. How can i justify ‘the ask’ for a donation when compare to other charities we are do not survive on only dontaions? Can anyone give me an opinion on this situation?
We would need a lot more info to be able to make a full response to this, but, on the face of it, you’ve got your questions back to front. The problem isn’t with the competition “out there”, but rather with what you are asking for and why.
If your charity is already generating £800k, why are they looking for additional revenue?
If you’re selling educational products, and evidently quite successfully, are you asking corporates for donations or for sponsorship? It would seem you have a saleable commodity in advertising terms.
If you’re asking Trusts to chip into a generic pot to ease your cashflow, you won’t get very far – that’s not what they’re there for.
The strength of the case for support does not depend on how many other sources of income you have (though, of course, a charity which is too rich will always have a problem!) but on how you’re going to spend the donor’s money.
Hope this helps
Gerry Beldon FInstF
Director, 26-01 CIC
Many thanks for your reply. Good question – what are we asking for and why? The answer is i am not sure! Since starting here i have not been given any projects to fund and there doesn’t seem to be much of a future plan for any future projects. I feel like i have been brought in to put the ‘icing on the cake ‘i.e. contribute to the existing cash flow. From experience i know this is not attractive to a funder. I can’t see this changing and therefore pressure increases when no money is brought in. I have challenged this and asked for future plans however their charitable output is very different to a traditional charity who may provide outreach services etc.
To your second question, I am asking Corporates for donations as we already have a sponsorship Manager in place. This generates a good lot of income but straight away takes away any hope i have of making any money.
I am sorry if i am still being vague and hope this gives you a better insight
If the organisation has a business plan, including what they want to do in the future, use that as a basis to push for getting the trustees to decide what they want you to do.
Then create a fundraising strategy for the next 3 years figuring out income and where it should come from in that time.
Get trustees to agree. Or to contribute.
If they don’t have a business plan, get pushing on that.
No fundraiser operates in a vacuum – we need to have the charity decide where its going.
Actually asking for money is easy. Getting it paid is harder – I tend to concentrate more on the clients and their needs rather than what we want. ie not that we need to cover the cook’s salary, but that we need to cover meal project costs which happens to include preperation, cooking and serving meals…
Used to get a lot more trusts awarding money but since we increased on hand money to 10 months running costs without a reserves policy (which trustees won’t do), money has dropped off quite a bit.
Yes we do have a business plan however my objectives are quite a way down the list of priorities as there is no project manager or member of staff to carry out such work when the funding is made available. In terms of a strategic plan i am still battling for the details of such projects in the business plan so that i can determine time frames, how much and where to get the income from.
In terms of direction of the Charity they do know where they want to be but this focuses on their commercial opportunities i.e. our international work of forming international relationships and sponsorship.
This is the first fundraising job i have had where the charity does not need to rely on donations and can sustain itself through other means.
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