ABC Radio Interview 6 August 2013

Saturday breakfast Interview with Phil Smith, ABC 612 Radio, 6 August 2013

PHIL:                                   

A book landed on my desk recently called The Practical Fundraising Handbook for School & Club Volunteers and I thought to myself ‘now, why didn’t this fall on my desk the last time I was on a committee and somebody had said “Can you organise the trivia night?”’ So I thought I’d catch up with Mandy Weidmann who is somebody who obviously has a lot of experience in this part of the world. Mandy, how did it first come to you that yes, in fact somebody needed a helping hand? Were you the person who ended up on the finance committee with the fundraising job?

MANDY:

Yes, I was out of the room and found myself nominated! Truthfully though, I have been fundraising for nearly a decade now and I’ve published The Fundraising Directory online for the past eight years and it has been clear to me over that time that many schools and clubs don’t do fundraising very well.

PHIL:                                    

And this is the sort of thing that amazes me, I’m looking through this and I find some really practical stuff here. Where do you start if you are the person who’s told ‘You’re going to head up the fete’?

MANDY:

The place to start is a planning process and this is where so many groups get it wrong. They really try and cobble things together on the fly. Volunteers aren’t paid, of course, and do the best they can so what I’ve tried to do in this book is educate people that if they take a little bit more time upfront planning, they can generate better ideas, recruit more volunteers and actually get more support, which means more profit.

PHIL:                                   

I like that. I’ve just opened up a couple of things that I dog-eared as I was looking through your book. One of them says ‘Breathe. If you look at the fete as one big fundraiser you may well have a panic attack and run. Instead, break it down: set a goal, make a date, dream the themes and so on, and work your way through that’. That is so true! So often we find ourselves with the job and we think ‘I don’t know what I’m doing here’ but there’ll be other people around the neighbourhood who do?

MANDY:

Absolutely, and it’s not just the people who have the time to help you organise it. There are people in your community who don’t have a lot of spare time but are great strategic thinkers or creative thinkers. Invite them to a planning session for a couple of hours. Make sure they understand they are under no obligation beyond brainstorming. Great ideas will undoubtedly come out of that and they can be broken down and delegated to people down the track. Being a bit strategic upfront opens up so many possibilities.

PHIL:                                   

That flows into another of your ideas, about communicating with people. Mandy Weidmann, you make a great point: ‘Mainstream media is not the be-all and end-all: why not look at a toolkit that involves some good old-fashioned things like face-to-face talking – how’s that – getting groups together, local assemblies and gatherings, newsletters and so on’.

MANDY:

For a school, Phil, the immediate supporter network is based around families. They are the bread and butter of your fundraising. Obviously you do need to look beyond but the immediate network is the place to start. It’s there that you can generate the community feeling and by leveraging that, see what your family groups can do to further assist that communication down the track.

PHIL:                                    

At radio stations like this, we’re swamped with people who are having events and people think ‘Well, I’ll call my local radio station’ and yes, that’s always a good start but, as you say, there are so many other things and you’re part of a community. Just looking through some of your fundraising ideas, there’s all the usual but there’s other great stuff in here I’ve found. Things like ‘If you’re having a sit-down dinner, auction the centrepieces from each table as well’. You’re almost squeezing every dollar you can out of an event, to make it as much value as you can get for it. Mandy, it’s a great little piece and all the best with it.

We’ve been chatting with Mandy Weidmann here on 612 ABC Brisbane this morning. Her book is called The Practical Fundraising Handbook. It’s ideal for school and club volunteers and would be well worth getting your hands on if you’re the person who’s drawn the short straw at the local committee!

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