Difficult donor asks: in-kind donations, volunteer fundraising and legacy giving

Jess Farr was Sustainable Funding Officer at NCVO. She left in September 2012, but we have retained her blog posts for reference.

As voluntary and community organisations we’re used to asking people and other organisations to support our cause, our projects and our beneficiaries. But we’re not always the best at being strategic in the way we go about asking for gifts, or what we ask for. So at our recent Sustainable Funding Conference we invited the speakers below to come and tell us how to make better, more targeted asks that build on resources we usually already have to hand.

Cash converter?

Leading an afternoon, practical workshop on asking for in-kind gifts, Programme Director for Race Online 2012, Caroline Beaumont, took us through some the key learning points from her recent Clore Social Leadership report From fundraising to resource-raising.

Her advice for charities that want to be more strategic about generating in-kind donations includes five key steps:

  1. Identify the roles donated resources could play in your organisation
  2. Decide on an over-arching strategy that will help you gain the right resources
  3. Identify the people who will ‘own’ this strategy, and who should be responsible for securing resources
  4. Make sure your resource sources are sustainable by assessing for risk, and manage donor relationships as carefully as you’d manage cash donors
  5. Remember to value and report on your donated resources – if you can’t value it, then at the very least measure its impact.

Leverage support through volunteers

Lucy Blythe, Director of Philia International and Stephen O’Brien, Chairman of Barts and London NHS Trust Stephen O’Brien drew on their respective experiences of using volunteers and their connections to fundraise effectively in this morning session.

We’d give you a summary of Lucy’s thoughts on fundraising through your board, but luckily, she recorded some great interviews for us so you can hear what she has to say yourself:

View the presentation mobilising volunteers for fundraising success

©2011, OK to use with permission and crediting Philia International

Cultivating your donors

Rob Cope, Director of Remember a Charity gave a scintillating ‘bitesized’ introduction to legacy fundraising.

We asked delegate and Sustainable Funding Beacons rep Marilyn Keats (CommUNITY Barnet) to write a ‘review’ of his session for us:

As a Funding Advisor and NCVO Sustainable Funding Beacon, I am always actively encouraging groups to diversify their sources of income.  Legacy fundraising is one of the areas that tends to elicit a negative response.  How do we ask for it… Who will promote it for us… Do people really give to small local charities… and many more questions that I do my best to answer.

And so, in the midst of the recent Sustainable Funding Conference I augmented the brilliant morning and afternoon workshops and presentations with a visit to a lunchtime bite size lecture on Legacies with Rob Cope, Director of Remember a Charity.  His session was inspired and inspiring and my only regret was that it didn’t last for longer!  He crammed in as much as he could and every word was valuable and interesting.  He made the whole issue of legacies attainable and alive – no stuffy rhetoric or meaningless jargon here.

Rob started by offering a context, highlighting the current situation regarding most popular causes and how these have changed over the years – for example, support for charities involved with children, the elderly and the disabled are slowest growing while armed forces and environmental charities are amongst the fastest growing.  He shared some really useful facts, such as that local charities have now taken over from national brands (more than double), with medium-sized charities having most increased their share over the last 5 years.

He suggested ways of challenging people’s reservations about legacies, and made simple but important points including that they don’t have to be large, that they can be of a fixed amount or a percentage – and of course that Wills can be changed.

The best route with potential givers, Rob said, was to focus on the conversation rather than the pledge itself, thereby engaging them long-term and making the experience personal to them.  Rob then went on to talk about how to cultivate motivation and the importance of getting all staff, volunteers and trustees on board involved with legacy fundraising by working on their knowledge, tools and confidence.

He finished with his Top 10 tips, the final one being so integral to all fundraising – especially those that people might be reluctant to act on:

“Be deliberate, unafraid, positive and aspirational”.

Let’s have more from Rob!

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