Establishing a fundraising strategy
Asking for money is never easy, but it is unfortunately a necessity for
many community groups, unless yours is one of the very, very lucky
groups whose funding is guaranteed.
Fundraising can - and should - be a fun and exciting experience. It is
also an experience that should be shared and for leaders of community
organisations one of the challenges is ensuring that all committe
members - and in fact - all the group should have some involvement in
As a first step, it is important for an organisation to assign the
overall responsibility of fundraising activities to one person. Even
with a fundraising committee or outside consultants one person needs to
be in ultimate control of what you are doing in fundraising. While
everyone seems to acknowledge that getting money into your organisation
is important, the role of the fundraiser is often under-valued. It
shouldn't be. Without sufficient funding coming in, groups can struggle
to get their important message across, provide their services or indeed
survive as a group at all.
Establish a fundraising strategy
The development of a fundraising strategy needs to be an annual
exercise but it is also ongoing as well. A fundraising strategy needs
to have the flexibility to be able to react to new opportunities or to
curtail activities that are either not practical or not profitable. The
best thing is to schedule some time where your committee or those
interested in fundraising can get together and thrash around some ideas
and establish some goals.
Remember, if you are asking for money, it is easier to raise money for
a specific project or activity rather than for the organisation as a
whole. Most people would rather know exactly where their money is being
- Outline your goals. What do you hope to achieve?
- Research past fundraising activities - what has worked? And just
as importantly, what didn't?
- Work out who your friends and potential friends are and who is
willing to support your organisation - businesses, government
departments, individuals, families, philanthropic trusts and
- Conduct market research with members, friends, etc on their good
ideas or what has worked in their groups to raise money.
- Detail a case to support each prospective fundraising activity.
- Describe and decide on the method in which you plan to raise
- Set an estimated target for each method.
- Set a timeline. Set up a year planner noting good times for
the organisation to raise funds. Pay attention to grant deadlines.
- Document your progress so that if you are struggling, the bells
start ringing early enough to change tack.
- Establish an evaluation strategy in place.
What are the options for fundraising?
There are a number of sources of funds. These include:
Your group will need to explore which of these are feasible,
achievable, and profitable. The trick is to be creative and make the
fundraising initiative work for you.
- Grants - Identify Federal, State or local
Government, philanthropic and corporate grants program open to your
group (use the www.ourcommunity.com.au Easy Grants newsletter and
- Sponsorship - identify
possible major and minor sponsorships including possible naming rights
- team, building, uniforms, scoreboard, events, players, trips,
- Membership fees -
Different levels of membership or association fees - standard, family,
non-playing, "Friends of" or associate membership, "Angels" or 'Gold"
membership, Lifetime members, three-game members.
- Bequests - providing
general information/personal approaches to long-time
benefactors/supporters that they provide an ongoing gift for your club.
- In-kind support - Everything from
venue/accommodation, office supplies, printing and photocopying,
transport, entertainment, pro bono work (legal, accounting, IT,
marketing/Public relations, auditing), gifts, subscriptions, uniforms.
- Donations - including
online donations - personal asking, general appeals, direct mail,
appeals to your email database of all former players, members and
- Special events which can include:
- Sales, fetes.
- Trivia nights, fashion parades, talent contests, art shows
with a local retailer or gallery, dances and discos, Film nights,
- Various 'athons, with club members and players gaining
sponsorship for a walkathon, readathon, skipathon, workathon or
- Games' nights using casino-type games and 'play money'.
- Sponsored record attempts or other similar quests.
- Fun runs (carefully check legal requirements with local
- Raffles, competitions, auctions - major items, memorabilia,
services, travel, gifts, tickets etc
- Merchandising - club
clothing, office products, sports products, glasswear etc.
- Sales of goods and services
For each event or initiative, try and incorporate other fundraising
initiatives. For example, if you have a special event, consider setting
up a stall to sell your organisation's merchandise, or conduct a raffle,
and always make sure programs or invitations have a donation form
attached as well as information on how people can join as members.
When making an appeal for public funds there are certain laws you must
abide by. There are different rules for each state and territory
applying to different methods of fundraising. These rules are separate
from the tax and incorporation laws that you are also obliged to observe.
To find out how certain rules will affect you, click on the relevant
state or territory below:
New South Wales
Australian Capital Territory
Send your draft fundraising strategy to the Board and a cross section
of the organisation before a final version is signed off. For most
volunteer organisations, it is important that the strategy is not drawn
up and then forgotten. Have regular updates at committee meetings and
ensure your newsletters and communications carry articles featuring
various milestones or fundraising actitivies.
Ensure the strategy is updated and changed as circumstances are. And
also to ensure your organisation and leadership team are alert to new
fundraising ideas and lessons learned from your own experience. If you
see an idea that works, grab it and try and adopt and adapt it to work for your own club.
Fundraising activities can determine the future of your organisation. a
strong fundraising effort can ensure there are funds to be able to
extend your activities, a poor perfomance can drain money allocated to
other areas. In your planning ensure that you have the ability to walk
away if something is not working or looks as though you will lose
money. It is better to walk away and lose a small amount, than go ahead
with an event and ensure you lose a far larger amount. If you have
planned well and have a strong risk management plan (see our help
sheets on risk
management) the alarm bells will start ringing long before it gets
to that stage.
Finally one of the main lessons of fundraising is ensuring that you
appropriately acknowledge those that have assisted you either as
volunteers, donors or sponsors. This should be acknowledged before,
during and after any fundraising event. Acknowledgement can be
expressed in your newsletters, on your tickets, in advertising, or in a
personal letter from the CEO or Chair. If the donation/sponsorship is
significant consider providing a plaque, framed certificate or some
form of permanent acknowledgement (signage, dedication).
For more information about
fundraising, see Our Community's fundraising
section: it includes a
self-evaluation fundraising quiz, prepared with the support of the
Department of Family and Community Service's Can Do Community Project.
It includes over 150 tips to help you in your fundraising efforts.