4BC Fundraising Interview

Afternoons with Moyd Kay and Loretta Ryan, 4BC – 14 June 2013

Australians donate a mind-boggling $580 million to charities, but getting their slice of the pie can be hard slog for small community groups, like schools and scout groups and church parishes. That’s why Brisbane’s Mandy Weidmann has written The Practical Fundraising Handbook to help out those smaller groups. And Mandy joins us now on the phone. Mandy, what made you decide to do this?

I’ve been fundraising for my children’s activities, particularly their school, for more years than I care to recall and I have published The Fundraising Directory online for about eight years. Through that, I publish tips and guides for people, they send in questions, share their own advice so I’ve quite a collection of information and thought it was time to share.

What are some of the challenges that you’ve faced fundraising and what are some of the challenges you hear of?

A few stand out. Volunteers – recruiting and retaining them – is something I see and hear of all the time. The danger with having the same volunteers over and over again is more than burn-out. There’s a loss of knowledge when volunteers move on, as they invariably do. That’s a challenge extensively addressed in my book.

You also say being organised is important. It’s not just a matter of going out and doing a fundraiser or putting on a fete. You need to research and plan.

That’s exactly right. Volunteers may feel they don’t have the time to prepare a plan as well as do the wrap-up after their fundraising activity but in planning in advance and preparing handover notes afterwards, they will actually save time and effort.

Not everyone can hold a really big function in the convention centre at $250 a head, so what’s your advice to the smaller groups? How do they choose an appropriate fundraiser?

Choosing an appropriate fundraiser comes second, in my mind, to creating a fundraising plan. The first thing to do is set out exactly what your purpose and goals are: what exactly do you need to raise money for. Then educate your supporters about the importance about that need so that it stands out and is on their radar, ahead of the many pressing demands everyone’s subjected to. From there, it is easier to break down your fundraising activity to meet those needs.

What’s the most common mistake the little guys make?

Definitely leaving things to the last minute. That lack of preparation and forewarning makes it hard to recruit volunteers because everyone is busy! That’s why it ends up being the same people over and over again. But if you can prepare in advance, you can break down the jobs and allocate them.

What’s one of the most successful fundraisers that you’ve heard of for smaller groups?

There are a great number that can be successful in all sorts of creative ways. In the US recently I heard of a ‘play-to-make-it-stop’ concert. A high school was raising money to keep its local community hall and they threatened to play Justin Bieber’s Baby, Baby, Baby on repeat through every school break and lunch break until they raised $5,000. It took them a day and a half!

So basically you’re saying people need to be a little bit more creative in what they’re doing?

Creative and communicative. I’ll go further, be specific in your communication and make it relevant to your audience. For example, say ‘This year, our focus is on refurbishing our clubhouse. We need to raise $10,000 from this raffle to pay for the car park and to do that every family needs to sell one book of tickets’.

And maybe sometimes offer incentives?

Incentives work just beautifully but you do need to be careful that they are appropriate.

Mandy, The Practical Fundraising Handbook for Schools & Club Volunteers is a great book, and it out now. It’s a good little read with some helpful tips so go and help your nieces and nephews at their next school fete and maybe they’ll make twice as much.


Click on the link below to listen to the interview audio file.

4BC Interview 140613