Community fundraising is all the rage these days. Making a comeback, just like scrunchies and double denim, the powers that be have remembered what joy this grassroots approach can bring to the sector and its income streams.
With many charities, the focus has shifted to inspiring donors to form community groups and take ownership of their fundraising, with the ‘professional’ fundraiser serving as the main contact/chief inspirer. It all makes good sense – why have one person driving forward your region’s income when you can have one hundred? There is, however, one part of community fundraising that can often be missed, neglected and underused.
Imagine a ready-made community group, with a minimum of 250 members, all of whom are a captive audience. It would be great if you could find one, right? What about if you could find ten? That would be amazing! What would be even better is if there were a series of these groups within close proximity of you at any given location. Well, that is also a thing!
If you aren’t already familiar, let me introduce you to the wonderful world of schools fundraising. By forming strong relationships with one of your many local primary or secondary schools, you can gain access to a massive audience of teachers, pupils and their families. Even more so, if you form relationships with the school’s key decision makers, you can land yourself a very lucrative partnership – often more valuable and less demanding than corporates. Here are some tips to get you started:
• Do the groundwork – at first you are going to have to get on the phone. Use websites such as Right Move to find schools within a certain proximity of where your office or a specific project is based. Once you have drawn up a list, call them and ask to speak to the school business manager or headteacher. They are often on non-teaching timetables, making them easier to get hold of. Once you reach them, your aim is to set up a meeting rather than pitch them over the phone.
• Start small - Schools often like to be able to do something simple and easy as their first step towards working regularly with a charity. Maybe you have some child friendly merchandise, or you can send volunteers to have a stall at their Christmas Fair? This is your perfect opportunity to show the school how easy it is to work with you and your charity.
• Conduct an assembly – the majority of teachers do not like doing these! This means they are often more than happy for you to remove that burden from their shoulders. Don’t be phased by the age of the pupils that you are speaking to – just tailor your talk to them. For example, if you spoke to a group of adults about your cause you would maybe talk 50% about the problem your charity is addressing and 50% about the solution you are working towards. The younger the audience, the less detail you give about the problem and the more you talk about the solution. Remember, by introducing the pupils to your charity you are helping them to take their first step on their donor journey. Inspire them now and they will become your regular givers of the future!
• Keep it simple – often school staff are quite daunted at the task of fundraising on top of their day job, so make life as easy as possible for them. Ask them what they already do or have done previously and put a fundraising slant onto it. Hold a collection at performances, provide a hamper to raffle or fundraise with a good old-fashioned bake sale. Be aware that some schools no longer like to do non-uniform days due to poverty proofing, instead suggest that pupils wear an item that is the colour of your charity.
Once you crack these relationships, and if you convey your message well, what lies ahead will be some of the most enjoyable days of your fundraising career. Nothing is more rewarding than seeing how excited and passionate the pupils become about your cause.
If you would like help with developing a strategy around schools fundraising, click here to book onto one of our free consultation sessions (on the first Tuesday of every month) or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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