Fundraising is Hard

Fundraising is Hard

Last year I received a call from Michelle Rankin of Saltworks, who asked me how do you make fundraising work?  My short answer was; “It is really hard.”

I secretly admire Michelle’s fantastic weekly email out to Satworks supporters.  The email is simple, containing a short gorgeous story about what has been happening at Saltworks.  Here is just a little snippet :

“It was such a joy to give some children icy poles after school and a drink for their mum.  They were so hot walking home and Saltworks was their place of rest.  One of our volunteers loves putting drinks in the freezer on hot days so she can offer them to our clients, it is with such joy that she hands them out with a blessing.”

Michelle called me to talk through the ups and downs of organising a fundraising dinner, and just a few weeks out from the event had only a small number of ticket sales.  Saltworks is a not for profit community organisation made up of volunteers promoting sustainable health and well-being.  Just one of their services they offer is a Friday night community meal (which they have been running for 20 years!) and a community pantry.

Their first fundraiser was a dinner, just like the Saltwork’s weekly community dinner, but business community & community leaders purchase a place at the table. The aim of the night was to fund-raise, but to also connect people together.  To share a meal to experience the social value of Saltworks community meal.

Strategies that Michelle used in the two weeks leading up to the event to create momentum included:

  • Providing stories to the local media to hit the front page and have weekly presence
  • Door knocking on local businesses and encouraging them to organise group table bookings
  • Asking a local member for parliament to be an ambassador to share the Saltworks story in her networks
  • Keeping active on social media and consistent weekly email newsletters

The personal approach worked very effectively for Michelle.  “When we started door knocking on businesses we have 50 bookings, then 90 and then 120!  We had to turn people away we had over booked ourselves!”

She went on to say,  “It was effective for us inviting our neigbourhood to come into our world, and get them involved in our story. Having tables of friends and work colleagues made for a really good night and now I am being asked how can I be involved?  Our next step is to work out how our fundraising can be sustainable and not respond to crisis.”

With the new networks who intimately know the experience of Saltworks Michelle is thinking through ways to manage relationships. “When a platform is held up by four posts and one of those posts are removed the platform collapses.”  Michelle explains.  “But if the platform is held up by 130 posts, made up of 130 people providing $5 a week, removing one person wont mean we collapse.”

Probono Australia have great resources for organisations setting up and managing supporters.  Click through – How to Connect with your Donors in the New Year.

Stay in touch with the Saltworks story through their facebook page.