Given the much more difficult economic environment we’re all facing, charities may be struggling to raise funds using the same techniques they’ve relied on in the past. To help, we’ve put together five top tips that charities could use to review and fine tune their fundraising strategies.
Five tips for fundraising during a downturn
Many UK charities are concerned about the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on their operations, and their donors’ ability to give as much or as regularly as in the past. With many people cutting back on their charitable giving, now is as a good a time as any for charities to review and revise the ways in which they raise vital funds.
We’ve put together these five suggestions to help charities rethink their fundraising strategies based on our recent conversations with HighGround and St Andrew’s Hospice, along with information from the Department of Social Change and other sources.
1. ‘Keep calm and carry on’
Even though it might feel like a thankless task during tough times, it’s imperative never to lose focus on your fundraising efforts – generating income, of course, needs to be a long-term, strategic effort."Clear and honest communications should help keep your charity front-of-mind and build trust with your donors. The strength of these relationships is likely to have a big bearing on people continuing to give, even if just a little."
Many charities see the benefits of building enduring relationships with donors. This means staying in touch with them on a regular basis and keeping them informed about the important work your charity is doing. While not all these communications should be linked to fundraising, it’s almost always important to provide tangible examples demonstrating the difference that donations make (no matter how small).
Clear and honest communications should help keep your charity front-of-mind and build trust with your donors. The strength of these relationships is likely to have a big bearing on people continuing to give, even if just a little.
2. Optimise existing strategies
If you don’t feel like your fundraising efforts are generating the expected returns, perhaps it’s time to review what you’re doing. This might involve going back to ‘square one’ to reassess who your ideal target donors are, along with the ways in which you’re communicating with them, and what you’re saying.
Reviewing the effectiveness of existing strategies will help to prune out those that are no longer ‘working’ while enabling your team to focus on those that are. Don’t be afraid to cut out any campaigns that require too much resource for too little return. Membership schemes and over-reliance on individuals undertaking personal challenges are just two examples of fundraising activities that some charities have found can be ‘loss makers’.
3. Connect with donors on an emotional level
As mentioned above, understanding who your donors are is essential to your success. Although it takes time and effort, knowing what your ‘typical’ donors look like will make it much easier to communicate with them in the right ways.
Be clear who you are targeting in terms of gender, age, where they live, occupation, income bracket and more, if you can. Appreciating how much and how often donors are likely to give, and the ways in which they prefer to communicate, is also important.
Once you have a clear picture of your target audience, you’ll more easily be able to share engaging stories that will resonate with them and build an emotional connection, making donors more likely to support your charity over the long term.
4. Use all available channels
In this increasingly digital world, charities can no longer rely on just one or two channels through which to communicate with donors and fundraise. Using as many channels as possible should help increase your reach and, in turn, hopefully your income."Although in-person events and communication methods are still key, making use of online channels and social media is increasingly important – and can sometimes also be cost effective ways to reach new audiences."
Although in-person events and communication methods are still key, making use of online channels and social media is increasingly important – and can sometimes also be cost effective ways to reach new audiences.
Crucially, no matter the channel or platform, it’s imperative to ensure that your messaging and branding is consistent, and that you’re telling the same stories and sending the same messages.
Finally, don’t forget that old adage: “there’s strength in numbers”. Working in partnership – whether with other like-minded charities or corporates – can help your charity increase the impact of its fundraising efforts, often without too many additional costs.
Of course, finding the right partners to collaborate with might be easier said than done. If you do choose to go down this route, make sure to do the necessary research and due diligence on any potential partners before approaching them. Similarly, don’t just say yes automatically if an organisation offers to work with you.
Make sure they’re the right fit for your charity: you may want to check that they share a similar purpose, or that the organisation has like-minded values, and that they’re using a similar approach.
St Andrew’s Hospice interview