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Why should I fundraise for you?

16 May 2013

Recent research seems to indicate that people in the UK are giving less to charity than in previous years. So charities need to be doing more to attract our attention and encourage us to both give direct donations and become a fundraiser for them. But what are the factors that encourage you to fundraise for a specific charity?

Is it offering a place at something desirable like the London Marathon or an organised trek up Mount Kilimanjaro? Is it based on long term existing loyalties or a personal tie to that organisation? Or is it a more simplistic decision based on the fact that you like the charity brand design or the tone of a specific fundraising campaign they are doing?

Thinking about these questions I examined who I have fundraised for in the past. The organisation I have given more money to than anyone else is MIND. This September I am thinking of doing another challenge and I would say MIND is likely to be my first choice of fundraising donations.

There is rational logic to my choice, based on the fact  that I have close family and friends who have struggled with mental health problems. MIND has heritage and impressive campaigning prowess on challenging stigma around mental health illnesses and fighting for the rights of those who live with mental health conditions.

But in reality there are also softer, less rational, reasons too. It might sound like a strange thing to say, but MIND has good customer service. When I raised money for them in 2011 they got their communications spot on; responding quickly to requests, being supportive, and even sending a handwritten card to arrive the week before the event. You might argue that when we demand that charities keep their overheads low, they shouldn’t waste precious resources engaging with fundraisers in this way. But actually from my experience I would say this is an investment worth making, as it spurred me on to smash my fundraising target. It may not be natural to think of charities having to worry about customer service but those that get it right gain an advantage over others in the sector.

In the ideal world, it would be nice to think that a charity is doing such a brilliant job achieving its mission that everyone that it is in contact with naturally wants to support it through fundraising. But in reality the reasons and motivations for supporting an organisation are multifaceted and complex.

What if you’re a new, small or unknown charity that can’t rely on high profile or a large database of contacts; what should you do to attract new fundraisers? The good news for these organisations is that with a bit of fresh thinking and a strong communications approach there is an opportunity to attract a raft of new fundraisers. In order to do this you must:

1. Find a compelling mechanic. Look at the trends for challenges or consider those who want to do something more low key in their home. Some of my favorites recently have been Cancer Research’s Dryathlon, Curry for Change or Help for Hero’s partnership with Tough Mudder.

2. Communicate cause and the experience of fundraising. This will make people excited about fundraising for you by highlighting the opportunity to do something worthwhile and enjoy themselves.

3. Stay in touch. Don’t forget the value of supporting, encouraging and communicating with fundraisers. Little touches like a good luck card before the event may take more planning and organisation for the charity but showing appreciation will pay dividends in the long run.