Developing a Fundraising Strategy
As a new organisation, or at the start of a new project, it is really helpful to have a good plan for raising funds. Even if your idea is small and you think there will only be a small amount of money involved – you never know what is around the corner and having a strategy in place can minimise risk and help plan for different scenarios.
If you need to use a premises (either on your own as a tenant, or renting a space for a short time) you will need to think more about financing and how you might want to take advantage of different ways to raise money.
Certain grants and funding are only available to certain types of organisations (i.e. charities) so you will need to bear in mind your own structure when coming up with your plan.
Remember: There is no one correct structure for a fundraising plan and no “right way” of organising fundraising activity. Simply put, a fundraising strategy helps you answer the questions: “Where are we now?” and “Where do we want to be?”.
Approach to writing your plan
There are lots of ways of thinking about the funding options for your project.
The basic tool to use when analysing questions is the SWOT analysis, identifying Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. You don’t need to share this information, it’s most useful for your behind the scenes planning, so be as honest as you can in your assessment. Strengths and weaknesses are internal, whilst opportunities and threats are external and may not be as much under your control. Some examples include:
- Passionate leadership.
- Good reputation for delivery.
- Good relations with partners.
- Unique proposition.
- Limited contacts.
- Existing grants running out.
- Limited opportunities to earn income from variety of sources.
- Public interest in your project.
- Local authority funding available.
- Shifting external priorities /areas of focus.
- Change in environmental regulations (could affect premises costs).
Here you set out why you are developing the strategy. Is there a specific project you are funding? Are you a new organisation – if so, what’s your back story? You might want to include information on your Vision and Mission and how it relates to needing funding.
Here you can provide information of the wider world you are operating in. You might want to include information on grants that have been made available for a project similar to your own, or that there are no grants available which is why you need to explore other options.
You will also set out the review of your current position. You will need to think about existing experience you (and or your team) have in fundraising, or the lack of experience. Set out the external factors which might impact your ability to raise funds.
Set out how much money you need, and for what purpose. Use the Financing Checklist to help! Are you starting out; expanding; or changing and adapting to the future?
It is helpful to split amounts that you need into Core (covering the main areas of funding to support running your operations); Restricted (covering any grants which have restrictions on how they can be spent); Capital (include income for equipment or premises).
Reaching the Objectives
Here you should explain ideas you have for raising funds. You can split it into General and Targeted Activities. General might include bringing in people with fundraising experience, or making the organisation more attractive to funders.
Targeted Activities will look at specific grants, donations, one-off fundraising activities etc.
Some example fundraising activities include:
- Friends and family
- Direct sponsorship
- Street stalls and collections
- Special one off events (shows, dinners)
- Raffles / lotteries
- Grant funding
- Crowd funding
If you are seeking the use of a premises, include a section on capital. Capital spending is generally money spent on one-off large expenses (like equipment or buildings), as opposed to resource expenditure which is what you will spend on day-to-day running of your organisation (e.g. salaries).
Capital spending can have impact on short term finances because it can be costly in the short term but then generate money in the future. If you think this is the case (e.g. the rental cost of a new premises will be met by ticket sales of a theatre production but only in 12 months), set this out.
As with capital, set out what resources you will need for the day-to-day running of your organisations and how you will raise and maintain funds to keep the lights on!
If you haven’t set this out in your objectives, try to include a timeline for how long you will be raising funds and the different factors that might affect it. Have you built in any wiggle room if things go wrong? Are there certain targets you have to meet by a certain date.
Fundraising can be a real art and if you know how to take advantage of certain schemes and funding pots, there are lots of ways to generate more money. If you are just starting out, it might be a good use of time to sit down with a fundraising consultant who can talk you through the different options and funding available, as well as helping you to pinpoint your selling points, your strengths, and the key elements of a really strong bid.
Fundraising is about telling the inspiring stories about your work. This handy toolkit by Arts Council England is a great place to start!
Are you reading this page as part of our Guide for Opening, Running and Growing a Cultural or Community Space? Have a look at grant applications next.