That applies whether they are individual donors, foundations, businesses or even local authorities. This means that fundraisers have to get the organisations they are representing - and their work - known to key target audiences. Effective fundraising is about communication. Here are a few simple ideas for getting your organisation and its work better known.
1. Produce a great leaflet explaining your work
Include a call to action asking people to do something specific to help, including giving money, and a reply address or phone number so that people can find out more. Request email addresses so you can keep in touch.
Then find ways to get your leaflet circulated. You could send copies to everyone on your mailing list, give some to committee members, staff and volunteers for them to hand out, have more in your office for visitors and send leaflets, with copies of a short letter introducing yourself, to potential funders.
2. Build good relations with journalists
The media, especially the local press and local radio for small organisations, can help you reach out to the wider public. Meet journalists for occasional chats. Telephone them from time to time to suggest feature ideas or news stories. Issue press releases whenever something newsworthy is about to happen or has just happened: this could include the launch of an appeal, something significant you have achieved, an upcoming event of importance or just the announcement of a substantial grant you have achieved or a fundraising target you have met. Create photo opportunities by organising stunts or by involving celebrities. When you have expertise to share, good ideas to offer or you wish to respond to points raised in recent articles, write letters to the editors of publications.
3. Use case studies to bring your work to life
By using personal case studies, you can show how issues affect individuals and how you have dealt with the problems of particular people. Illustrate your successes. Also focus on one staff member to demonstrate their commitment and competence.
If your organisation deals with homelessness, for example, don't talk about why people in general become homeless, which is quite abstract and theoretical. Instead, show how one particular person became homeless. Don't talk only about the services you provide, but show how your organisation has actually been able to help one person get off the streets and into a more settled lifestyle.
4. Get out and about
Fundraising can't be done exclusively by someone sitting in an office in front of a computer. Giving talks is an excellent way of spreading the message.
Prepare a simple presentation, perhaps in two formats - a shorter version and a longer one. Then speak to whoever will listen to you: groups for older people, women's groups, political parties, schools, rotary clubs, employees and trade unions. Get other staff members and volunteers to do the same. Make sure you ask them to do something. Note down the details of anyone who shows any interest, and follow those leads up.
You could, for example, organise 10 lively volunteers to give 10 presentations each a year, and ask them to organise their own speaking engagements.
5. Get your message across at every opportunity
Be excited about what you are doing and try to convey that sense of excitement to others. And give people the opportunity to help you. You could attend conferences and workshops, making sure that you ask questions or make points and mention your organisation and the wonderful work it is doing in the process. Talk to the person behind you in the queue at the supermarket; they will be waiting longer than you and might just be interested. Take part in radio phone-ins to give your point of view. You never know who might be listening. Put posters up on community noticeboards and in public libraries.
Knock on doors in your local community. People want to know what is going on in their neighbourhood. Seize every opportunity to promote your organisation. There will be many more than you think.
- 's book, Need to Know? Fundraising, is published by Collins at £9.99.