The best fundraising projects are often those that are viewed as the most challenging. Perhaps they have an ambitious target or maybe they’re complicated in terms of delivery or diversity? Whatever the reasons, I’ve found that it is usually the most ambitious projects that are the best – and most successful – to fundraise for.
Often, people are scared to be too ambitious when developing their projects, worrying that they won’t be able to raise the income target, so they scale it down to the point where it has a small reach, no future sustainability and is unlikely to make much impact. Rather than making it easier to fundraise for, by reducing the scope and scale of a project you can hamstring your fundraising efforts.
The project that started off as a request for a new museum grade bookcase to house manuscripts had limited donor appeal but, by working with the archivist, we developed the project into an exhibition. It was five times more expensive but had a far broader reach in terms of visitors, especially as it included a spin off education pack and a dedicated website, as well as an interactive exhibition. This more ambitious and more costly project was far easier to fundraise for as donors could clearly see the benefits of bringing the exhibition to a broader audience, as opposed to simply storing the books and manuscripts more effectively.
Similarly, there was the exhibition sponsorship deal that included: a complementary fashion exhibition, a demonstration of ancient tapestry techniques and grand opening featuring Jodie Marsh, designer Scott Henshall and a few hundred thousand pounds worth of diamonds. All of these aspects were added by the sponsor and, while they meant extra work to deliver the sponsorship, the added value led to a higher cash contribution by the sponsor, excellent press coverage and box office breaking attendance figures.
I’m not suggesting that you run wild with your fundraising and grow your projects so large that you are unable to manage or sustain them but try taking an entrepreneurial approach – think more creatively and look at the many different aspects of your project and what they could bring in terms of new audiences, potential funding and new partnerships. Doing this can help increase your appeal to donors and ultimately, raise the income you need to be successful.