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Sunday, January 10, 2016

5 ways to boost your charity fundraiser

By Paul Thompson

Times are tough for UK charities. The double whammy of austerity-inspired funding cuts and a lack of growth in public donations means that budgets are increasingly tight, and for many charities, carrying out successful fundraising events or campaigns is key to their survival. But with so much competition out there, how can you ensure that your fundraiser stands out from the crowd?

Make it easy to donate

If you want people to donate money to your cause, you need to make it easy for them to do so. With the growth of technology, more and more people prefer to make a donation online via the charity’s website. So if you don’t already have an online donation function built in to your site, it might be something worth considering. If this isn’t possible, due to budgets or resources, setting up a page on a dedicated donation site, such as Just Giving, can also be very effective. Mobile text donations are also a huge area of growth, particularly when it comes to younger people - and it is predicted that this method of donation will raise £150 million for UK charities this year.

However, despite the move towards online donations, more traditional methods of fundraising such as charity giving envelopes and bucket collections are still very effective and should not be discounted. Researching your target donor market to find how they would prefer to engage with your organisation can be invaluable.

Use social media

If you want your fundraiser to gain traction and reach a large audience, social media is key. Social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook offer a great opportunity to have conversations and build relationships with existing and potential supporters, as well as providing you with another medium through which to talk about your work and the impact it has. Create a hashtag for your fundraiser so that people easily follow the campaign and are encouraged to create and share their own content. If your fundraiser is something that sparks the imagination and is easily shareable, it could even go viral. Just look at the success of the Ice Bucket Challenge which raised over £7 million for the Motor Neurone Disease Association in 2014.

Use the media

For your fundraiser to really be a success, people have to know about it - and securing media coverage can really help to raise your profile. Contact your newspapers, TV broadcasters and radio stations to ask if they would be interested in covering your fundraiser, and send out a press release to key media targets. Some things to remember:
  • Think about your angle. What it makes it interesting to a journalist? If it’s just a straightforward plug for your fundraiser it’s unlikely to get covered. It needs to be something interesting or unusual that people want to read.
  • Keep it concise (less than one A4 page) with an interesting headline
  • Reporters like stories that feature people - so if you can offer a journalist one or two strong case studies, your story is more likely to be covered.
  • Where possible, make sure your press release is accompanied by a good quality photograph (a smart-phone photo is fine, as long as it well composed, interesting and in focus).
Build partnerships

Building partnerships with businesses (either small, local organisations, or larger, national ones) can be a great way to increase your income. And many businesses are keen to work with charities as it fits in with their CSR priorities and helps generate some positive PR for their brand. Finding a business to sponsor your event, becoming a company’s ‘chosen charity’, or simply just asking organisations to donate raffle prizes for your fundraiser, can all generate a welcome boost to your bottom line.

Say thank you

So, your fundraiser was a resounding success and generated lots of income for your charity. Great! But what next? One of the most important things you can do is to thank your donors and supporters and show them the impact that their generosity has had. If your supporters feel valued and that their efforts are making a difference, they will be more receptive to future fundraising activities, helping to ensure the long term sustainability of your organisation.

When it comes to charity fundraisers, there are so many possibilities - from sporting events through to social media campaigns. Whatever form your fundraiser takes, following the above steps will help ensure it has maximum impact.
About the author: Paul Thompson is the Director for Quick Envelopes, which produces quality printed envelopes and charity envelopes for businesses across the UK.
Image: Author owned and licensed