Community fundraising is about raising funds from local
communities through developing volunteer networks.
- In the UK one-third of the top 500 charities are estimated to
engage in community fundraising
- It is difficult to calculate a precise figure for income
generated from community fundraising as charities record their
fundraising activities in different ways
- Although significant income is raised from this form of
fundraising it has a relatively low return on investment compared
with other forms of fundraising because it is resource
- Across the top 500 charities the mean income generated per £1
of expenditure has been shown to be £2.14
Volunteers lie at the heart of community fundraising but they
require support and development. You need to find ways of
effectively managing and inspiring volunteers, making them feel
valued whilst ensuring that the costs do not outweigh the returns
However you also need to remember the value of community
fundraising goes beyond immediate financial returns. It also
provides long-term benefits of building a credible presence
locally, creating trust, developing relationships and raising
awareness of the work of the charity.
Taking a marketing approach
It is important to take a marketing approach to community
fundraising, particularly if you are developing community
fundraising from scratch. Your brand message needs to be
clear. The brand should communicate what the charity stands
for i.e. its mission and values and to be effective needs to be
communicated consistently across the organisation. The good news
for small organisations is that often brand awareness is higher in
your local community than that of national brands.
Community fundraising activities
The most common community fundraising activities are events,
sponsored events, collections and raffles.
Events can be both a good money earner and provide valuable
publicity for your organisation but they are also risky and can be
labour intensive. Successful events require good planning and
the input of committed staff or volunteers and resources.
When organising an event you should be clear about the
objectives e.g. is its primary purpose to raise money, attract new
supporters or raise the profile of your organisation?
Think about the kind of events that would be most appropriate to
your target audience and the resources required to organise the
event - both financial and in terms of staff and volunteer time -
who is going to organise the event?
Examples of community fundraising activities:
- Coffee mornings and other social events
- Craft fairs
- Sales of art or work
- Fashion shows
- A ball
- Picnics and family outings
It is important that you ensure that you allow a long enough
lead in time to organise and publicise the event. You should also
make sure that you budget accurately and have legally binding
contracts in place. To reduce the risk inherent in organising
an event you could:
- try and get sponsorship
- recruit a committee of volunteers who each make a commitment to
selling a certain number of tickets
- take out insurance
- and finally you could encourage others to organise events on
your behalf rather than taking the risk yourselves
Sponsored events such as sponsored walks, runs and bike rides
are extremely popular and successful methods of fundraising.
You can organise a mass participation event or encourage others to
organise or participate in sponsored events on your behalf.
All you need to do is provide promotional materials, at the very
least a sponsorship form, encourage your supporters to organise or
participate in events and publicise their successes in your
- Are you aware of any local or national events that donors would
like to raise money for?
- Organisations arranging their own events need to consider their
potential liability if anything goes wrong and make sure that a
full risk assessment is conducted
- Check that the event meets health and safety regulations and
does not impact adversely on the local environment
- Charities and their supporters can make use of websites such as
JustGiving, Bmycharity and Virgin Money Giving, which offer online
sponsorship and donation processing services.
- Remember to ensure that sponsors Gift Aid their donations,
meaning that you will be able to claim an additional 25p for every
Collections require an enthusiastic team of volunteers, good
planning and some equipment, for example, collection boxes or
envelopes, but they can be an important source of income as well as
raising the profile of the organisation locally:
- House-to-house collections - where you knock on doors and ask
for a donation or leave an envelope and call back later
- Street collections usually with a collecting tin or bucket and
stickers or flags
- Static collecting boxes or tins
- Collecting boxes in supporters homes
You need permits for house-to-house and street collections. It
is possible to reclaim Gift Aid on collections using envelopes and
on collecting boxes in supporters' homes where you have suitable
Gift Aid declarations but not currently on bucket or tin
collections. However, from April 2013 the Gift Aid Small
Donations Scheme will enable charities, which have had good
compliance with Gift Aid for at least three years, to claim on up
to £5,000 of donations each year without the need for Gift Aid
Raffles and lotteries are common methods of fundraising by both
large and small organisations. Raffles and scratch cards are
regulated by the Lotteries Act and to ensure you comply with the
regulations you should refer to the Gaming Board's publication
Lotteries and the Law.
If you are starting a community fundraising programme from
scratch then you need to ensure that you have a good supporter
database. Effective supporter development relies on your capacity
to keep accurate records regarding the supporter and their
relationship with your organization. Think of your database
as your most valuable asset and make sure that you collect names of
warm contacts at every possible opportunity - referred to as data
capture; train staff and volunteers on data input; and 'clean' your
database regularly. A good database is an important tool for
understanding your supporters and ensuring your community
fundraising activities are supporter led.
In developing a donor database you will need to ensure that you
comply with Data Protection legislation.
Local clubs and societies
Another means of community fundraising is to take advantage of
existing local clubs and societies. For example, Women's
Institutes, Rotary, Young Farmers, Scouts, Guides, churches and
religious groups. Some of these organisations such as Rotary are
always on the lookout for speakers so it is quite easy to arrange
to go and speak to them.
Involving children and young people in fundraising is not only
about their potential to raise money but about developing their
understanding of your cause, building support for the future and
involving their families and the wider community as well. Your
materials should have good educational content and be linked into
Key Stages. From 11 to 16 (Key Stages 3 and 4) young people have
Citizenship Education as part of the curriculum and are encouraged
to do activity projects in the community.