Planning your Fundraising

To be successful at fundraising, your community group needs to have a solid foundation and a plan or strategy. Consider all avenues of possible funding and/or donations, including generating at least some of the money you need yourselves. Also think about what you can generate as ‘in kind’ contributions.

If your costs are relatively small you may want to simply focus your attention on local fundraising. If you are looking at larger costs and/or more ambitious projects, you may decide to either nominate a committee or board member to research funding options or even contract an external fundraiser. Talk to other groups who have been successful about their fundraising experiences and learn from them.

Are you ready to start fundraising?

Before you start planning to raise funds, your group needs to be certain that it is going to be in a position to manage those funds. A steering group may do initial planning, but for your group to be ready to start any kind of income generation, it should be constituted with a suitable structure and be managed by a well-informed and suitably skilled committee or board.

  • are you a constituted group?

  • do you have a committee in place?

  • does your constitution set out clear aims and objectives?

  • do you have a bank account?

  • has the committee or board agreed what your priorities are?

If your community group or organisation has a Business Plan (ideally covering the next three to five years), base your fundraising strategy around the aims, timescales and resource requirements outlined in this. How much detail you include in your plan will largely depend on the scale and costs you need to cover, but even for small projects, having a plan is best practice. A fundraising plan will at the very least focus your thoughts, helping you to identify exactly what you need the funding for and how much you need. It will also give you a firm base for any grant applications.

What do you want to achieve?

Begin with an outline of your aims. If your group is planning a fundraising strategy as part of a 3-5 year Business Plan then your aims will be the  ‘purposes’ as stated in your constitution or governing document. It is a good idea to clarify these into a simple Mission Statement.

If you are planning a fundraising strategy based on a specific project, you will want to specify the aims of the project (and how these relate to your purposes as a group).

How will you meet these aims?

Think next about how your group will meet these aims - what you plan to do – the services and activities your group plans to deliver. These are your objectives. Do you have evidence to support the need for what you want to do? Your group should also be realistic about the activities and services or projects that you are planning to deliver. Have you established that they will be meeting a specific community need? Have you carried out any feasibility studies or a community appraisal?

Gather facts and figures- these will add weight to any funding application or tender that you may need to make.

What benefits will this bring?

First think about who is going to benefit from your activities, services or project? Then consider what they will get out of it. Focus on the needs and the benefits. For example, a small community group is fundraising to cover the costs of organising and hosting Information Technology classes for people over 60 years of age. The people who will benefit are the older people of the community. The potential benefits of the classes will include increasing confidence, learning new skills, helping to make people feel less socially isolated. Do you think that your services, activities or project have a good chance of delivering these benefits?

What resources will you need?

Consider each objective in turn and think about what resources you will need to make these things happen:-

  • human resources – will you need to employ people to deliver your activities or services?

  • material resources - will you need equipment? will you need to contract services or can you seek other help ‘in kind'

  • financial resources – do you need capital or revenue funding? Are these likely to be small scale or more major amounts?

Can you work with other groups or agencies in a partnership approach to delivering any of your services or activities?

Your budget – how much you need

Focus on how much money you need to raise to meet your objectives - how much it will cost to deliver your services and activities. Prepare a budget. 

Give an idea of the cost for each of the following:-

  • one-off capital costs (such as those for equipment or even a building)

  • utility bills and other running costs (revenue costs)

  • salary costs (if you are going to be employing staff)

Add these together (along with a contingency sum to cover any price fluctuations and unforeseen costs) to give you the total amount you need to generate. Depending on your total figure and the complexity of your objectives (or particular project) you may want to break this total down further to detail additional budget headings or areas of activity such as marketing.

Refining your plan

What are your timescales? Are you looking at how much income you need for a specific project or is your plan part of a wider strategy covering a year or more ahead? Decide how and when you will need to pay the costs you have identified.

You next need to decide on how you are going to raise the money you need to meet the costs you have identified. What are the options available to you? Which will be the most suitable sources of income and best methods for your group.