Claire Linacre from the Albert Kennedy Trust joined us at the Kent Fundraiser’s Hub in November and inspired our audience to take a fresh look at how they approach community fundraising and community events.
Often seen as the ‘Cinderella’ of the fundraising programme, Community Fundraising has finally shed her dusty rags and donned her sparkly ball gown. Forward thinking charities are realising that local individuals can be the route to new supporters, engaged ambassadors, multi – channel fundraisers and yes, serious income too. But we have to turn traditional thinking on its head. No longer should Community Fundraising be charity led, supporter enabled, with fundraisers ramming tired old events down the throats of generous and enthusiastic supporters. No more ‘Dear Mrs Smith, (who sent us £230 for her sponsored slim in 2015) do join the fun for our 5k Santa Dash/ Girls Night In/ 10k Colour Run/ Coffee and Cake Week… No stop, STOP, STOP. What the new generation Community Fundraiser is doing is lots and lots of listening – the new model is all about being supporter led, charity enabled.
Claire talked to the group about the importance of that first contact. It should be very easy for a potential supporter to get hold of someone they can talk to, charities need to be responsive and fleet of foot.
A donor-centred Community programme recognises supporters as individuals, and embraces those who Beth Kanter calls Free Agents. "Free agents are individuals working outside of organisations to mobilise, raise funds and communicate with constituents.” This demands a level of flexibility so you can react to what they’ve told you, whether it’s what’s driving them to support you, how they want to be contacted etc. Gone are the cookie-cutter days of old. Claire recommends adopting a Major Donor approach when training or hiring staff – they need to have the ability to build rapport with supporters, listen really well and match their interests and networks with relevant ways they can help your cause.
Claire took us through a case study from the first point of contact, through how to assess potential and prioritise your community resources, to managing the on-going relationships. Every supporter deserves to feel special and connected to your charity but there are ways to manage these relationships efficiently, making the best use of technology so that your team are spending their time effectively. The Pareto principle still holds good; it pays to deploy your scarce resources (people) on the activities which will yield the greatest return.
Claire’s top takeaways?
Kickstart your relationship the right way. Celebrate that first interaction
Use the first conversation with a supporter as an opportunity to learn, not teach
Start planning your long term aims from the very beginning
Prepare and reflect on what they’ve told you
Understand it’s their campaign and give them the tools to help
Operate a holistic supporter-development approach
Champion a culture of Thanking
After their fundraising’s over, they’ve shared their successes, you’ve done your thanking and recognising… don’t drop them
You need to find ways to keep the relationship warm and to keep them engaged using their preferred channel
Don’t forget legacies and other cross-promotional opportunities
Ensure they don’t only ever hear from you when it’s an appeal drop or other ask
After Claire’s presentation, we heard from someone who was happy to share his experience. Will Porter decided to run the London Marathon in an effort to get fit. As someone who works for a brewery chain, he’d be the first to say it was a big challenge, his world is one of hospitality. He offered to raise £10k for any charity who would give him a place. He posted on Facebook after a family Sunday roast and within 40 minutes he had his place (that’s the power of social media), he ran again in 2016 and will complete his third (and he says final) marathon in 2018. So far he’s raised £170,000 and he was happy to share what has kept him motivated and inspired. It’s always good to hear what has worked for a supporter and sometimes it’s even more helpful to hear what hasn’t helped. For Will, the speed and the responsiveness of the charity was key, seeing how the money he raises will be used has been pivotal and trust is crucial – he has introduced his company and his friends and family to the causes he supports and he wants to be sure that the charity will always be their word and not fail to deliver promised materials, support and thanks to the new supporters he brings in. He’s a local hero if ever there was one and there is no doubt that the money he has raised is life changing. He’s brought in supporters, arranged family treats for families of disabled children and given prizes. The £10K target was well and truly smashed and the added bonus for Will and his family is that he’s shed loads of pounds and at least ten years. Good news for him and for all the charities who will benefit from his hard work and generosity in the future.
Make sure your charity finds Prince Charming doesn’t leave Cinderella cleaning up after her ugly sisters.