How Small Charities Can Fundraise on a Shoestring

Fundraising on a Shoestring

Fundraising on a Shoestring

If you work in a small non-profit, chances are one of your biggest challenges is fundraising with limited resources.  I know because this is one of the questions I am asked most regularly (that and ‘who will give us money?!’)


So, how can you use your resources more effectively?  My number one tip is:


Use What You Already Have – but better!


You don’t need to invest vast amounts of money (that you don’t have anyway, right?) in new systems.  And you don’t have to completely change the way you work to be successful with your fundraising.  Start with what you have.


Boosting Your Events

So, if you already run events, is there any scope or would it be appropriate to invite donors along to these as a thank you or to potential donors as an introduction to your organisation?  You might run events for your clients that a potential donor would be interested in – or where a previous donor could see first hand how their support has helped the people that you help.


Or perhaps you and your staff take part in challenge events for your charity – such as entering teams for marathons or running your own fundraisers.  Is there potential to broaden this out with a call to the general public asking them to get involved too? Start with your neighbours – particularly companies on your doorstep who might be looking for ways to involve their own staff in volunteering or to boost their profile in the local press as sponsors of your event.


Moving on from involvement, you should also think about how you can boost the impact of your events through social media.  For example, you could encourage members of the public to sign up to taking part through Twitter promotions or a Facebook campaign.


Or you could promote your events to your followers on social media AND give your events more impact by tweeting live throughout an event or posting photos and videos of your event onto your Twitter stream or a Facebook page – while the event is happening.  This can help to give people who aren’t there a sense of being involved, helping them to become more engaged with your organisation.  It can also be a good way to promote your sponsors to an even wider audience than those at the event – which should help with your sponsorship negotiation too.


Better Communications

Do you have a newsletter that could be sent out to donors with a cover letter as part of their regular donor communications programme – to keep them at the forefront of their minds throughout the year.


Are you on Social media?  If so, could more of your messages be about fundraising?  And if not, is it worth considering building your online profile either by getting on Twitter, setting up a Facebook page or a YouTube channel? 


My advice would be to start with one channel, be clear on why you want to use that channel and what it is for and really get to grips with it before launching your next social media platform.


Do you have a website?  Most people do these days and if you do, get a donate button on there.  It doesn’t matter if to begin with you’re hardly receiving any donations through this route – you are promoting the fact that people can give and making it easy for them to do. 


Do you communicate with people via email?  And is there scope to develop this?  For example, if you build followers online OR if you have people coming along to your events in person, could you add them to your email list and then, using an email marketing service, you can engage with high numbers of people throughout the year – promoting your events, getting your message out and ultimately, fundraise from this group.


Automate – But Don’t Overdo It

And that leads me nicely on to automation.  If you use an email marketing service, you can set up your emails in advance and send them out as and when people sign up to your list.  So you can create a series of welcome emails that automatically go out as someone subscribes to your list without you having to write out to everyone individually as and when they sign up. 


Similarly, you can automate your Twitter , LinkedIn, Google + and Facebook updates by using a platform such as Hootsuite.  You can literally set all of your messages up to run for the week or month through one platform and then all you need to do during the week is check in and make sure that you’re involved in any conversations that your messages might have generated. Because you don’t want to over automate.



These are just a few tips for using limited resources more effectively by using what you already have differently.  It will create some extra work but it should be manageable within the resources you already have.


So if you don’t produce a newsletter, I’m not suggesting that you start writing one (although it might be worth considering) but try to start with where you are now and build what you’re doing in a structured, easy to manage way.



Next time, I’ll be dealing with breaking down tasks to make them easier to resource but if you’ve any questions or any tips about ways that you’ve used existing resources more effectively to boost your fundraising efforts, leave them in the comments below!

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