I want to reshape the way we approach community fundraising.

I want to develop community fundraising from a separate entity within a fundraising team to an interwoven strategy. To add value and insight across the fundraising mix, whilst driving mass engagement with the key people who will stay with us long-term.

Think about it…

You’re developing a new fundraising product and need to know what your supporters want and will engage with. Who talks to them on a daily basis? Community fundraisers.

You’re researching a corporate partner and want to know how to win the next big vote. Who has worked with their regional offices, engaging directly with the staff who will be voting? Community fundraisers.

Who has regular, direct contact with lifelong supporters of your charity; people who give their time, skills and money to help you succeed? People who would be PERFECT for engaging in legacy conversations. Community fundraisers.

You get the picture.

So how can we do this? 

Reduce the pressure
Give community fundraisers the support and space, and teach them the skills, to build strong, long-lasting relationships within their communities; to find the influencers aligned with your cause to increase your reach and impact.
The future of community is strategic partnerships; faith and investment in the few, rather than chasing the many. Create your next strategy around this approach but most importantly teach fundraisers how to do it.
Choose loyalty over transactions.
Involvement
Make sure your community fundraisers are involved in discussions to provide insight as to what’s happening out in the real world. We hear the inspiring stories, but we’re also the first to hear the grumbles that could spark the next innovation within your fundraising team.
Be better at communicating plans and campaigns to allow community fundraisers to recruit local leaders and influencers to increase your reach. Share your corporate pipelines with community fundraisers so they can build personal relationships and grow a following before the social media ‘vote for us!’ push.
And you, the manager. If you’re responsible for the community fundraising strategy at your charity, make sure you’re in contact with the fundraisers and most involved supporters who are doing the fundraising.
Data is cool, but words don’t paint the bigger picture.
Share
Responsible for an event and spotted a supporter with a strong personal connection and an even higher fundraising target? Don’t just put them on the usual stewardship journey, contact your community fundraiser and ask if they’ve heard about them and if not, arrange to make it happen.
Invite community fundraisers to discuss their experience with your other campaigns when working with supporters and write community fundraising involvement into your strategy plans throughout all fundraising activity. Take advantage of the impact that having a human to human interaction can have on fundraising income. Read about Yorkshire Cancer Research’s £8,000 fundraiser from one participant by doing just this.
And don’t keep this to just fundraising; do your supporter communications reference their complete support of you? We LOVE that they give regularly and run a marathon for us each year, so why don’t they know this?
Review your expectations
Are your measuring tools pressuring supporters into ways of giving that are right for them, or is it for you?
Are you spending too much time and money on creating products instead of looking at a supporter’s overall potential and how you can reach it?
As communities become increasingly time poor, are groups still the way to go for local engagement, or should you be focusing on stewarding your donor to host their one event better each time, rather than asking them to host more?
Are your unachievable conversation targets encouraging fundraisers to spend their time with people who aren’t engaged with your cause, and harming your opportunities to spend time with the people who are?
Experience over targets
Individual team targets, geographical boundaries, focusing completely on the cash, job titles…all of these things create a sense of protectiveness within a fundraising team and dictates what is, or isn’t, part of your job.
We’re losing sight of the supporter that doesn’t care who looks after what area or what product, they just want to know they’re going to make a difference and that they’re going to feel good doing it.
Instead of creating processes that work well for you but complicate delivery, think about what works best from a fundraising support viewpoint; if someone wanted to give to you, is it as easy and enjoyable as possible?
Don’t just think of support in monetary terms. Who do your supporters know, what skills can they share with you, are they a passionate campaigner with big reach?
Invest
Once you acknowledge that community fundraisers are event recruiters, legacy fundraisers, storytelling extraordinaires, relationship and engagement masters, digital users, corporate managers, and so much more, invest in their learning in these areas to better their professional approach and watch your engagement and income soar.

Community, regional and engagement teams are on the rise, and for good reason. 87% of teams have seen growth in this area in the last three years with 71% ready to invest more in the next twelve months (Source: THINK benchmarking).

So let’s go beyond the bake sales, groups and (as one professional fundraiser referred to community) the “gopher role” reputation of community fundraising, and really use these human to human, local representation opportunities to their full potential.

If you’re already working on community engagement within other fundraising methods I’d love to chat with you to learn more. If you’re sold on the idea and want to learn more, then I want to talk to you.Let’s show what community can really do.

I elaborate more on what’s discussed here on Jason Lewis’ ‘Fundraising Talent’ podcast.

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