I was sent a link to Swimming for FRED, a fundraising blog for a charity in the Forest of Dean that supports adults to improve their reading. The blog so impressed me I found myself doubling the contribution I intended to give.
Here’s why, with some valuable tips for how arts and culture organisations could maximise individual fundraising:
• Speaking with passion The Board member (in this case, but it could be a supporter) speaks with great passion about the charity she is supporting, in words that are her own. There is no sense of repeating prepared phrases or copying and pasting from the website. She knows what the charity does, in detail, and is allowed to tell it her own way.
• Making it personal The blog engages the reader because the Board member brings in other interests and ‘journeys’ of her own, making unexpected and intriguing links between the charity and the sponsored activity she is taking on.
• Educating Through this blog I have learned so much about the charity and its approach and aims – and about the kind of people it works with. This has been revealed bit by bit in the story of preparing for the swim … which in itself is engaging and personal enough to keep me going back for the next instalment (and so finding out more about the charity). It’s this, the real understanding of what the charity does, that had me reaching for the chequebook.
• Humour Always helps.
• Repeating the ask Every single instalment ends with a reminder about the charity, and that the point is to raise money for them. You’re not allowed to get so caught up in the story that you forget it.
• Nepotism Yes, it’s my sister’s blog – but let’s face it, all fundraisers ever start with tapping up their nearest and dearest, and many don’t go further. The point is to help them turn it from a bit of a nuisance into a genuine passion they can convince friends and family to share. Did I mention I doubled what I usually send to my relatives’ sponsored activities?
And here’s how you could help your supporters and Board members even more:
• Explain to supporters embarking on fundraising that just having a blog or a website isn’t enough to get it seen. They have to keep on putting it in front of people’s faces too.
• Tell them about keywords and tagging their posts with a wide range of relevant search terms, so people interested in the subject or charity might come across it.
• Show them how to submit their blog to Google’s spiders, to give it a chance of being found in search results.
• Before they start, suggest they use a blog platform that lets people comment without signing in or identifying themselves. It’s remarkably off-putting to many, and stops any conversation dead, so can discourage the fundraiser.
• Brainstorm with them ideas of website and organisations who might be persuaded to link to the fundraising blog. In SwimmingforFred’s case I’d suggest approaching the swimming organisations whose websites she used, any libraries she has contacts in, the swimming pool where she trains, etc.
• Give them a short press release template and names and phone numbers of your local journalists who might be up for a quirky story.
• Remind them that people have short memories – they can’t rely even on their Mums to remember about the big adventure every day. Things like enabling RSS feeds of the blog to people’s email accounts, posting the link to each new blog – with different wording or ‘trailers’ – to their Facebook page or Twitter feed and re-emailing friends and family regularly can all help.
• Prepare these hints, suggestions, explanations and templates – all in the friendliest possible way – in advance, so as soon as your Board member or supporter floats the idea of raising money for you, you can step right in with encouragement and practical support.
If you’ve found these comments useful, please share the love! You too can donate to FRED (www.forestreadeasydeal.org.uk) by sending a cheque for Forest Read Easy Deal to:
Frank Rainer, Treasurer, Oaklands, George Road, Yorkley, Lydney, Gloucestershire, GL15 4TL
(and write CEA Swim on the back)