This sheet aims to help you work out the best strategy for raising money for your group.
Why raise money
Fundraising is always more successful if you know what you are raising the money for, and have a clear idea of how much you need.
Raising money can tend to become an end in itself - if you don't have a specific reason for raising money, it might be a good idea to think about whether you need to do it at all. Sometimes having money can cause problems for a group as well as solve them.
Before you start trying to raise money for a project, an event, or general running costs for your group, you need to break down the likely costs to form a budget.
Keeping accurate accounts can help you work out how much you have spent on similar activities in the past. If you need the money to start something new, make sure you have done some research to find out how much each aspect of the project will cost.
Using your budget, you can arrive at an overall fundraising target. This will help you decide best how to raise the money. You will also need a target figure and a specific budget for each fundraising activity.
Once you have an overall fundraising target, you need to think about how to raise the money. There are several ways to do this:
- Selling badges, cards, t-shirts or other merchandise
- Collections, donations and raffles
- Applying for grants or awards
- Organising your own fundraising events
Which route you decide to take depends largely on how much money you have to raise, and how many people you have available to do the work.
You may choose to combine several approaches. Some grant-giving bodies are much more likely to help you if you can raise some money yourselves. Letters to local businesses can produce a rich crop of raffle prizes to make your summer fete more successful.
Selling badges, cards, t-shirts or other merchandise
You can design and make your own badges or cards (e.g. Christmas cards) at quite a low cost and sell them to supporters to raise money. Some groups also print t-shirts and information booklets, record CDs or DVD's, or make earrings and other items to sell to supporters.
You can also have items made, such as baseball caps, stickers, pens, or keyrings.
Before doing this it is worth thinking about where you are going to be able to sell your products, and who you are going to sell them to. Are you going to have a stall at your own, or another group's, event? Are you going to rely on personal contacts? Some supportive shops may take some to sell - but they may ask for a percentage of the 'profit' for doing this.
Remember that, whatever you are selling, you are bound to end up with some left over, so allow for this when you decide on a price.
Collections and Raffles
There are many ways of collecting money from supporters, but there are often rules and regulations that affect how you carry them out. The Resource Centre Information Sheet on Licensing and Regulations gives guidance on any legal requirements.
Here are a few ideas:
If you are having a stall at an event it is always useful to have a collection tin for members of the public to make small donations to your group.
You can also organise a street collection. You will need a permit from the local council for this. In Brighton contact the Health and Safety Licensing Team on 01273 294429. You can make your collection more imaginative and appealing to the public by dressing up, having musicians or performers with you, having information about your group available, or having stickers to give to those who donate.
If you are having a collection at your own event, or a larger event, you could:
- Have large labelled buckets
- Have groups of people shaking blankets
- Use a paddling pool or water feature to make a 'wishing well'
- Create a 'Coin Painting'. As people donate coins a group of 'artists' could create pictures on the ground or on a large board, using the coins.
100 members pay £1 or £2 per month into the club. Each member is allocated a number, and each month one or two numbers are drawn to find the winner. 50% of the cash collected would go to your organisation, and the rest would be used for prizes. It is a good idea to have quite a small regular prize, then larger prizes (e.g. £100) once or twice a year.
You could hold a raffle at an event, or even on the coach if you are going on an outing. For this kind of raffle you can buy books of cloakroom tickets from a stationery shop. Alternatively you could hold a draw over a longer period, and print draw tickets. The Resource Centre has Ticket Wizard software, which enables you to create attractive numbered tickets with details of your event and prizes. You can ask local businesses to donate prizes, for example, a box of chocolates, a meal for two, a food hamper, or a haircut.
Donations and membership fees
You can ask supporters of your group to become members, and charge a small membership fee. This can give your organisation a small regular income, and lead to members identifying more closely with you. You could have a small fee for individuals, and a larger fee for other organisations. You could print membership cards, where you record members' payments, and the date their membership expires.
However, asking people to pay for membership might deter some of them from getting involved, so discuss this carefully before you go ahead with it. Membership fees are probably more suited to sports, arts or social clubs where there is a clear benefit to being a member.
You could ask supporters to pay a monthly Standing Order directly from their bank account. You just need to give supporters your group's bank details (account name, number and sort-code) so that they can ask their bank to set up the standing order. Ask them to tell you that they have done this, so you know where the money has come from when it appears in your bank account!
People often get confused between standing orders and direct debits, so it is useful to remind them that they control the standing order - they can contact their bank to amend or cancel the standing order whenever they like.
Payroll Giving enables employees to give to any UK charity straight from their gross salary (before tax is deducted), giving immediate tax relief on those donations. This means that £10 donated each month costs only £8.00 for employees paying standard rate tax (£6 for higher rate taxpayers).
Charities and Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASC's) can claim the tax back when people make donations to them. Therefore, if somebody makes a donation of £10 to your charity, you will receive £12.50.
To use GiftAid you need to register with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), ask all donors to sign a Gift Aid declaration, make regular claim to HMRC, and keep accurate records.
There are several websites that provide a service for collecting GiftAid donations for charities and CASCs. Most of them charge, but they also carry out some of the admin tasks and make the claim to HMRC for you.
If your group is not a charity you can set up an account with Paypal, Google Checkout or Worldpay. You will need to register with them, and give them your bank account details. Your supporters can then make donations directly to you, or you can put a 'Donate' button on your website. The registration process can take a while and be a bit confusing. If you are not a charity you will not be able to register as a 'Not-for-Profit' organisation, and will have to register as a Sole-trader instead.
It is possible to raise a lot of money with a well thought-out fundraising appeal, and it can be useful to combine this with other fundraising activities. For example, if you organise some fundraising events such as a music night, a pub quiz, or a sponsored walk, you will send out a clear message to your supporters that you are aiming to raise a lot of money. You may then receive some individual donations from people who cannot attend your events. If you combine this with a well worded appeal you will probably get more donations.
A good appeal will give clear information about why you need the money, what you will use it for, and how people can make donations. For example:
- Our monthly running costs for room hire, refreshments and transport are £160. We are asking 40 people to make a monthly donation of £4 by standing order to cover these costs. We can then concentrate on providing fun, interesting and stimulating activities for the children.
- Each meal provided by our Meals on Wheels service costs £6.50 (for the ingredients, kitchen facilities and transport costs). A donation of £169 would provide an elderly person with a hot meal twice a week for 3 months.
- The cost of redecorating our community room is £1,500. We plan to do the work in November so the room is ready for the children's Christmas party and pensioners' Christmas lunch in December. We have already raised £900 during the year at our fetes, jumble sales and bingo nights, and are asking for donations to make up the difference. We really appreciate all donations - please give whatever you can.
You could send your appeal to members and supporters by post or email, distribute flyers at events, or get it published in local newsletters, newspapers or on the local radio.
Applying for grants or awards
This involves writing convincing applications to grant making trusts, the local council, businesses, or the lottery. Although this may appear to be the easy option, it can be very time consuming, as you will need to:
- do some initial research to find suitable organisations to apply to
- collect together information about your group and activities for the applications
- prepare budgets
- plan ahead as many funders consider applications on a 3 monthly or 6 monthly cycle.
Organising your own fundraising events
It is possible to raise significant amounts of money through sponsored events, fetes, fayres, or social activities such a quiz nights or musical performances.
Some groups have raised many thousands of pounds by organising a series of well-planned events. However, it is also possible to lose money if an event is badly organised or not publicised effectively.
There are so many different types of events that you could organise, that it is worth considering whether you want to use a tried and tested idea, or try something more imaginative to catch people's attention.Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Sponsored walk/funrun/triathlon/3 legged walk/cycle/litter pick/abseil/roller skate
- Car wash
- Karaoke/ musical performance/disco/film show
- Quiz night/race night/bingo
- Open garden or allotment/garden party with cream teas/bbq/plant sale
- Jumble sale
- Mystery tour/treasure hunt
However big or small your event is going to be, planning it will follow the same general pattern - and include some common pitfalls!
Make sure your objectives are clear
Discuss what you want your event to achieve - will it raise the profile of your group? Will it bring people together? Are these things more or less important than raising money?
Set the target and make a budget for the event
Take into account all your costs - venue and equipment hire, publicity, volunteers' expenses, prizes, phone bills, insurance...
Do you have enough people involved? Do you have enough time to organise well?
Working together on a timetable with all the main dates and deadlines on it can help clarify how much work there is to do, and when.
Make sure everyone knows what is going on
Reporting regularly to the other people organising the event and to the whole group is not just politeness - it can stop an individual or a fundraising committee from making costly mistakes.
Using the right venue
How many people do you expect to attend? Does the venue have any restrictions on the type of activities it can be used for? Do they supply the equipment you need (e.g. tables and chairs, crockery and cutlery, PA) or do you need to hire equipment from elsewhere? Is the venue booked and confirmed?
Think about publicity
Who do you want your publicity to reach? What is the best way to do this? How much money do you have to spend on it? Have you considered using the local media? Make sure you allow enough time for publicity to be distributed and read - ideally you should start distributing publicity 2 months before the event.
Permissions and licences
Find out about the regulations early on. Do you need to inform the police? Local Council? Emergency services? The Resource Centre Information Sheet Licensing and Regulations gives further guidance on this.
Health and Safety
Do you need to do anything to make sure those taking part are safe? Do you need to have First Aiders? Do you need to carry out a risk assessment? The Health and Safety Handbook for Voluntary and Community Organisations, published by the Directory of Social Change, is available for use in the Resource Centre.
Plan in detail
Where will everybody be on the day? It is a good idea to spread responsibility and have a different person responsible for each aspect of your event. There are always unexpected things to be done at the last minute - who will do them? How will equipment and volunteers get to the venue - and away again? Who is responsible for money on the day? What will happen if it rains? Allow enough time for setting up and clearing away.
The Resource Centre has a range of Information Sheets on all aspects of running a group. The following ones are particularly useful for fundraising:
- Planning checklist: for fetes, fun days, parties and other events
- Licensing and Regulations: essential information for event organisers
- Fundraising from local businesses: where to get small amounts of money or raffle prizes for Christmas parties, Fun days, outings or other small projects
- Fundraising Applications
- Budgets for community groups
- News Release
- Media Contacts
Our reference library has sections on:
- Health and safety
- Publicity and campaigning
- Sources of funding
- Applying for funding
- Fundraising events and games
We have a wide range of equipment for hire including: