About a year ago, I agreed to enter a ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ competition to raise money for a local Hospice. The decision to say ‘yes’ was relatively easy, and it kickstarted an enriching journey that I will never forget.
The event raised over £80,000 and was deemed a resounding success, so I am particularly pleased to have taken part and contributed towards their fundraising targets.
To sign-off on the event, I would like to share my experience, findings and advice through this article which I hope NFP fundraising teams will find useful.
Saying ‘yes’ might have been easy, but the fact is, I found fundraising difficult.
At times I felt isolated and if I’m honest, a little scared. Once I had embarked on my fundraising journey, I quickly felt the pressure of putting my name and reputation to achieving a financial goal. Not realising that goal became a constant worry to me and weighed heavily on my shoulders.
Understandably charities want their fundraiser to set big targets. I tried to set big goals too, but the reality is that I was outside of my comfort zone, asking people for money.
It’s on this point where I feel charities could consider offering additional support resources to their community of fundraisers. I do not mean hand-holding, but access to tips and advice or even a framework to build my fundraising activities around would have provided me with great support and peace of mind.
There is no doubt that the fundraising team I worked with offered me the best support they could and regularly checked in with me. The reality is, however, that fundraising teams are a limited resource with limited time to mollycoddle every fundraiser.
It has occurred to me that charities should consider providing resource portals on their websites or even providing an online community for fundraisers so that experiences and successes could be shared through supporter collaboration.
This would allow seasoned fundraisers to leave a legacy and newbies with a chance to learn the ropes. This type of support can also be spoon-fed to new fundraisers through automated sequences of regular email contact.
Having a personalised email from the charity land with me each week with support, advice and even a reminder of why I’m raising the money keeps motivation high and progress steady.
Working within the digital sector, these are things that I know are easily achievable from a technical point of view, but there needs to be a willingness to take onboard this strategic approach by the NFP community.
While I’m proud of the monies I raised, I wonder how much more I could have done if I had access to an infinite pool of best practise tips?
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, this was an enriching experience that I will never forget. I am very proud to have taken part and raised the money I did. I know my family and children are proud too, which itself is particularly humbling.
When the event day came, I thought I would be nervous, but the reality was quite the opposite. I was swept along by the tremendous support from my fellow contestants and the 350 people attending the event.
Everyone wanted the evening to go well, and regardless of who you were, every supporter cheered unanimously and without bias. This gave me an overwhelming sense of euphoria and certainly helped my performance and made it hugely enjoyable.
The reality, however, is that my pound of flesh, blood, sweat and tears only scratched the surface of what is needed to hit the charities annual fundraising targets.
I raised £2,800 for the charity, but they need to generate £3.7million a year, so I’d only raised 0.075% of their annual target. Admittedly the event raised £80,000 in total, but even this only comes to about 2%.
The truth is, £80,000 will keep the Hospice running for a week, and while my donor journey has come to an end (for the time being) my thoughts are with fundraising teams and the incredible challenge they face every day meeting their objectives.
It would certainly appear to me that if any sector could benefit from digital technology and automation, then non-profit organisations and charities would do well to explore this.
Potential uses of digital technology to alleviate the pressures on fundraising teams:
- Consider automating a digital onboarding experience for new fundraisers
- Seek ways to contact and motivate fundraisers through automation continually
- Provide fundraisers with access to online resources and framework guides
- Explore opportunities to build an online community to increase collaboration
- If your donor CRM doesn’t offer this functionality, search for opportunities to connect it to your website and let your website deliver the digital donor journey
These are just a few examples of the possibilities available to NFP fundraising and marketing teams that want to improve online revenue generation and reform operational performance.
I hope sharing my experience with fundraising teams will be of assistance, and my thoughts are with you in your constant pursuit of sustainable income generation.