Charities could improve the amount they raise with a few simple steps. In the latest part of our feature, the focus is on organisations being brave with donors and investing in their own people.
Be brave enough to change your message
Wateraid’s Untapped campaign, which was launched earlier this year, aimed to raise £3.9m by reaching beyond the charity’s traditional donors.
In the end, the appeal attracted 60,000 donors, a third of whom were new ones. It also raised £4.2m, which was doubled to £8.4m by match-funding, meaning the charity ended up with 16 per cent more than it expected to get from the public.
The success of the campaign, according to Hanisha Kotecha, deputy managing director of The Good Agency, which developed it, was down to the way its message focused on connecting potential donors directly with beneficiaries.
The village of Tombohuaun in Sierra Leone was at the forefront the campaign.
The village lacked a clean water supply, but had a vibrant and lively community full of characters, as workers from WaterAid found when they visited.
"We realised we had an opportunity here to make people fall in love with these people and really get to know them," says Kotecha.
Too often, she says, charity campaigns emphasise the difference between the beneficiaries’ lives and the donors, creating a distance between them and leaving space for "white saviour complex" to grow.
But Untapped put the people of Tombohuaun front and centre, as part of an interactive campaign that allowed them to introduce themselves directly to donors through Twitter and Instagram and encouraged supporters to upload videos in response.
"We were trying to create something that was about us learning from people in the village just as much as it was about us helping them," says Kotecha. "So people could learn regional dances and how to make soap without water – things that would enrich supporters’ lives, not just an ask for money."
Her advice for other fundraisers is to take brave decisions. "Don’t be tied down to what you think always works," she says. "Times are changing – people want to see the immediate impact of their help. They want to see authenticity in terms of who’s telling the story.
"If you’re operating in an environment that is really risk-averse it will never happen for you. You will need to take risks, do things differently and have permission to fail."
Invest in your people
Beth Breeze, director of the Centre for Philanthropy at the University of Kent, says the people doing the asking should be of the highest calibre possible.
"To raise fundraising income by a meaningful percentage, and to attract major donors, there is no alternative to investing in the fundraising function, recruiting talented fundraisers and ensuring they get the support they need from colleagues across the charity," she says.
"If I can share one tip with those seeking to raise more money, it is that fundraising campaigns don’t normally fail because of a lack of donors – they fail because there are too few good askers."
The most simple things fundraisers can do to increase the money they
bring in, Scriver says, is to ask.
"Most charities I start working with are not communicating enough, let alone asking enough," he says.
"It’s why Giving Tuesday (kind of) works – because charities ask more and, lo and behold, the people they ask say yes more."