The Funding Doctors continue with the second in their series of 7 Top Tips for successful fundraising, telling you all you need to know to pull off a successful project — whether it is starting up your very own out of school club, adding an additional service or securing funding for new resources.
Tip 2: Now is the time to sort your housekeeping
Funders will want assurance about who they are paying their money to, so make sure all the legal and governance stuff is in place before you think about applying for funding.
- Have you decided on the legal structure for your club? Will you operate as a charity or as a private enterprise? What evidence have you got? It may be easier to find a grant or rally community support to fundraise for a charity rather than a private business, but there are other factors to consider when making this decision. Accountants and lawyers often give their first hour of advice for free to help you make an informed decision.
- Funders will probably want to see key policies and evidence of accreditations.
- Who owns the building where your club will be run? Do you have evidence of an agreement to use it? Have you checked for any planning requirements?
- If you are a charity, have you registered for Gift Aid to recover tax on donations?
- Will you need licences, permissions and insurance for fund raisers (e.g. raffles, alcohol, street collections, entertainment, food)?
Tip 3: Keep talking!
Effective and regular communication is critical to ensure that your community is aware of the plans to start a club and that stakeholders are kept up to date on progress. As well as helping to attract customers, it can also help to attract potential donors and volunteers. Don't underestimate how important (and time consuming) this can be, but it will be time well spent.
You will need to engage with your community from the outset, so that you have the body of evidence that your funders will demand. Involve the community in planning and designing the service, so that you deliver what they want. Funders will demand this evidence.
You'll need to become your own publicists. Use all available outlets including local press, social networks and setting up a website — this can be done for free.
Social media (Twitter and Facebook for example) can be a very useful tool for your project. It is measurable, rapid, social (so messages can be spread beyond the original intended audience), free to use (beyond invested time and learning involved), and remarkably flexible. Social media can increase the publicity of your project and drive it forward. You can attract customers, volunteers and even find funding. All this for free.
Ask the community to help. Try to tap into any local expertise in the field of PR and marketing.
A fundraising thermometer can be used as a tool to demonstrate progress. Download one for free from: www.easy-fundraising-ideas.com
Get to know the local newspaper journalist that covers your area to drum up support for the club within the community. For tips on how to write a press release, see: www.freelanceuk.com
The talking doesn't end on launch day. The funders will want regular updates on progress and outcomes - including updates long after the opening day! And they'll want you to give them publicity.