Community Funding; Community ‘Think Tank’
There is no silver bullet in fundraising – no one answer that will make it effortless or straightforward. A number of factors need to all work together to create an effective fundraising plan. In coming up with this plan, the more ‘brains’ you have on board, the better.
In general terms, and particularly for rural or remote schools, your local community is the bread and butter of your support network. It makes sense that these are the people to turn to for help when you want to come up with the your fundraising strategy.
The best ideas are likely to come from people who live and breathe the same air as you. I’m not talking about the ‘same old volunteers’ within your organisation who tend to shoulder the bulk of the load. I suggest forming a ‘Think Tank’ with your local businesses and community members. Perhaps there is a chamber of commerce or business group you can tap into, local personalities, reporters, your school principal and local politicians.
Naturally these people are not likely to have the capacity to be hands-on with your fundraising, but they are the ones that can give you some great insight into how to partner with the broader community to maximise your efforts.
Set a morning aside and invite these relevant people to a ‘no-obligation think tank’ session. Provide refreshments. First, set out your targets and goals and specifically identify your challenges (e.g. same old volunteers, same fundraisers etc.). Ask for their ideas on how to provide maximum benefit to those that support your fundraising, and also how to receive maximum benefit in return. Some things you may wish to suggest to get the ball rolling include:
• Is there a particular industry/ business that would benefit from a significant strategic partnership with your organisation. For example, perhaps they fund a significant item on your ‘wish list’ in return for appropriate recognition and promotion.
• Can your local politician point you in the direction of available grants? Can they assist in the application?
• Are there local functions that you can piggyback your fundraising onto – e.g. local business lunches – can you run a quick raffle or fundraising activity?
• Do local business have spare capacity to assist with smaller tasks – e.g. are all staff kept busy all the time – might they be able to help with smaller things like doing up flyers, or even larger things like helping with grants?
• Who can help promote participation in your fundraiser/ events? Who prepares local newsletters/flyers? Who gets a lot of foot traffic?
• Do your local banks have a volunteer program where they support their staff to volunteer?
• Promoting to a local school/ club is a valuable marketing tool – what are they looking for – how can you best work together?
• What are their ideas for what the local community is looking for?
• Would it be possible to organise a working bee with the broader local community?
In my Practical Fundraising Handbook, you will find a guide, including an agenda, for running a strategy meeting like this.
Most people are very generous with their ideas, and you never know what flash of brilliance a session like this might generate. At the very least, you are providing some structure to the conversations you have with those around you that are likely to be key supporters.