Raising Funds for One-off Needs

The school band is going to perform in Tokyo (say). Out of all the mandolin marching bands in all the world, yours has been the one to score the coveted invitation from the Off-Shinjuku Mandolin Festival. You can see the world and show Australian culture at its best and learn all about difficult bridge fingerings in the Pizzicato passages of Pergolesi. Awesome! You're going!

Provided that you can raise $6000 each. Ouch.

Raising money to send amateur individuals or teams away to events - musical, sporting or otherwise - is a common problem. Australia is a big place that's a long way away from anywhere else, and it's hard to leave town without running up a big bill. Even interstate costs can be hard to cover. Sometimes you can afford it, sometimes you can't, and even if you can you don't want to get stuck with the whole thing.

How do you cover those costs? There are a number of possible ways. None of them is easy.

1) Getting a government grant

We only know of one government grant program in Australia that will cover this sort of cost (if you find another one, do let us know by emailing the Our Community Grants Team so we can spread the good word.

The Local Sporting Champions program provides funding for young people aged 12-18.

2) Getting a local government grant

Check the website of your local government authority to see if they have a grants program that would help cover your costs. Some of them do, though that number seems to be falling every year.

For example,

Travel Donations for Club Participants

Council's Travel Donations policy provides financial support to Rockingham residents traveling outside of Western Australia to participate in National or International club or sporting events.

For details on Council's policy, please download the Travel Donations Policy.

Of course, conditions may apply;

Supporting Our High Achievers

If you are a City of Mitcham resident and are selected to represent South Australia (or Australia) in a national or international competition or event, held outside of South Australia, the City of Mitcham can help you with financial support through its Individual Donations Scheme.

The Scheme has been established to assist local people who achieve in their particular sporting, cultural or academic event. Sponsorship of $100 can be provided to individuals travelling interstate and $200 for individuals travelling overseas to represent the state or nation, depending on available funds. Applications from team managers are also encouraged where there are more than two participants in the same team.

Give your Council a call. They may chip in (though they probably won't cover the full cost).

Contact your local councillor as well and see if they have a ward allowance that they can tap in to. Make sure you let them know what you will do for them by way of publicity in return for their help.

3) Getting a grant from a foundation

This is going to be tough. Foundations don't generally have any interest in having mandolin orchestras over there rather than over here, and if despite that they did give you anything they'd have trouble retaining their tax deductible status. Your trip simply doesn't count as a benefit to humanity on that scale.

You can look up grants at the Our Community grants database and check this out, and you may find a few exceptions to the rule - Telstra's Kids Fund, for example, is one you might want to try, as is the Education Foundation. The Australian Sports Foundation may also be worth a look if you have a not-for-profit organisation (including a school or a community group) you can connect with that can register a sport-related project to assist you.

Give them a go if you think you will be able to fit into their guidelines; however, your time is probably best spent -

4) Raising money from your own circle

There are a number of people out there who are closely enough connected to you or yours to chip in a small contribution. You have to find them and ask them for money.

It's not socially acceptable just to beg, so you'll probably have to attach one of the mechanisms that Australians use to take the curse off asking someone for money - organising an event such as a fun run, or a concert, or a cookbook, or a celebrity auction. For more information on fundraising, look here.

Don't be fooled yourself, though. These aren't ways of selling goods or services to the public: they're simply more polite ways of asking people who like you to give you money. You still have to identify these people, and you still have to make the ask, and you can't ask for more than they can spare for something that's pretty low on their priority list.

Also be aware of the fatal fundraising flaw - putting a lot of time and effort (and sometimes even money) into getting a fundraiser off the ground without making a realistic assessment of how much money it's really, truly likely to generate, and whether the time and effort will be worth it.

5) Getting commercial sponsorship

At this level, sponsorship runs all the way from things that are much the same as in (2) - asking your local butcher for a couple of kilos of free sausages for a fundraising sizzle, for example - up to full-scale commercial commitment with something like the naming rights to the Alcoa Mandolin Ensemble.

There's the possibility of fundraising in the workplace - that's where you see if you or your father or your spouse can widen your circle of donors into their workplace and tap their ties there for small sums. If you're very lucky, some employers will contribute (they sometimes feel it improves staff morale).

At the top level, though, when you're looking for sponsorship you have to be able to promise a commercial return - that is to say, you have to be able to arrange enough publicity to provide the sponsoring company with free advertising of a value equal to the amount of their donation. This isn't easy to do, but it's not entirely impossible. Have a look at the Marketing, Media and Post section of the Our Community website here.

The context

Why is it so hard to get this sort of one-off funding? There are reasons.

  • It's a one-off - you can't develop and refine your mailing lists, or gradually bring on donors over time.
  • Many people think such trips are a luxury rather than a necessity.
  • There's an element in the giving population that believes in user pays.

So why is raising funds for a trip even theoretically possible? These are your strengths; play to them.

  1. There's very little doubt that you can do what you say. You can show that you're making one particular person happy. And pictures of gratefully smiling beneficiaries make up a large part of charity fundraising.
  2. You have - or can cobble together - a simple story of friends overcoming adversity by working together to triumph in the final reel. Tell the story. Make it interesting and inspiring and familiar.

There may be institutions that will chip in, if there's a sufficient connection; the school itself, if it's a school thing, perhaps the Australian Peak Youth Mandolin Federation, if it's a mandolin thing, or perhaps (if you have very good contacts and a heartwarming or heartwrenching story) your local Rotary or Lions or Apex or Zonta or Probus or Soroptimist clubs. Not all of them will have money to hand out, but they might be able to help in other ways. It doesn't hurt to ask, and it doesn't hurt (much) to get turned down.

If you ask often enough, you'll get there. But there are no short cuts.