Unfortunately, there isn’t a formula for fundraising. There are a lot of tips to try and advice to follow, but to guarantee lots of lovely donations, we’ll never know what steps will work for every, single charitable cause. A generous budget, a heap of creativity, and a dollop of exposure seems to be one recipe for success, but what about local giving?
Raising money for a local cause might seem like a simple thing to do, but often, smaller, local causes can be overlooked for national ones. After all, your reach is smaller and your demographic may be too. And then there’s a question of utilising the web.
Social media can take a simple campaign message, often only 140 characters long, and make it viral in minutes. You can reach thousands of people at the touch of a button. But this doesn’t always lend itself to local causes – as how can you convince someone miles away to donate to your local charity? And how do you reach people on your doorstep through social media – would it just be better to go and knock on their front doors instead?
With the growth of the web and social media in recent years, the way we connect with people has changed. So rather than resist that change, we think it’s better to go with it. But how?
Know your ‘enemy’
If social media is a particular challenge for you, get to know it, inside and out. After all, knowledge is power, as they say.
Facebook is the most useful platform when engaging with your local community, as it is very centered around local networks. Set up a group or page for your charity, or even an event, that people can join and share. Whether it’s a sponsored walk, or a bake sale, Facebook is a great way to rally together a community for a fundraising event. The ‘share’ and ‘like’ functions help your message is spread organically through your supporters, who are likely to have friends in the same area.
When it comes to Twitter, hashtags will be your best friend. Looking to target your local area, add it as a tag to your tweets – like the #manchester hashtag, for example. Anyone following that tag will come across it and you can hazard a guess that they will be local too.
You can also utilise hashtags like #charity, #charitytuesday and things related to your cause, which helps you signpost your event or cause for potential donors. For example:
(It’s well worth noting that this was an example – sadly, there will be no bake sale on Saturday – sob).
Access all areas
While social media is one of the quickest ways to engage with people, don’t forget that you’ll need a mixture of online and offline promotion.
If you only use one form of promotion, you’ll only be reaching out to one type of audience. Not everyone has regular access to the internet and there’s no matching that real-life community spirit.
Sites, such as 38 Degrees, Avaaz and Change.org can set your campaign alight, but you need to match this with activists on the ground too, as well as local businesses or bloggers who care enough about your work to share it. You could reach out to someone on the street and ask for their help, but you need to reach out online too.
So in the same way you may ask any local followers on Twitter to retweet your latest tweet, you may ask a neighbour to take a few leaflets and pass them on. It’s all about the balance.
And you never know, if someone sat at their computer, minutes away from you, isn’t aware of your cause, they may just find it when they search online…
You may not be aware, but Locality, the nationwide network of community groups, also runs a community organisers programme to promote social action and volunteering in communities. The scheme, which is funded by the Cabinet Office, trains its community organisers, who are hired on full-time one-year contracts, and appointed to a region, where they work hard to find out what is important to that community.
Programme Manager, Naomi Diamond explains in this great piece featured in The Guardian’s Voluntary Sector Network, that organisations could pool their resources to hire a community organiser to work within the community without an agenda and then direct interested individuals to the relevant organisation.
This is a way to really get your community involved and part of your work, rather than encouraging a one-off donation.
Finally, because we are perfectly time and topical, Localgiving.com is back with it’s Grow Your Tenner scheme; giving away £500,000 in a match-fund special. Sponsored by the Office for Civil Society, Grow Your Tenner 2013 started at 10:00am today.
Localgiving.com will double all donations up to £10, so a tenner becomes £20, or £22.50 with Gift Aid, and on all monthly donations the scheme will double up to £10 a month for six months.
The campaign is open to all eligible charities in England on the Localgiving.com website.
So whether you want to give locally, or register your charity, it’s time to shake up your community, and watch your work, or your donations, flourish – right in the thick of it.
And if you are a small charity that still needs convincing about the benefits of going online, why not have a read and a watch of this? Or you could get in touch with us, by saying hello on Twitter @reasondigital, or by sending us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.