Charitable organisations are altruistic in nature and in turn rely on the same generous nature of their supporters to provide them with a steady stream of income necessary to continue their good work. For some this is achieved through grants and some form of funding but for the most part it is the general public whose support and fundraising is the lifeblood of the charity. What we’ll be trying to do here is to highlight the most useful tools which can be provided digitally via a website to help people plan, organise and advertise their events and what charities can do to make it as easy possible for anyone to raise money for their cause. Essentially, here are my ideas on online toolkits for fundraising.
I decided on putting this post together after meeting with a charitable organisation in the last week and discussing a few ideas around their fundraising activity and what site functionality would support it. As it transpired they didn’t really do much in the form of events as they did not have the in-house resources to support them but were not opposed to thinking about ways in which they could help their supporters to execute events and raise funds on their behalf.
It occurred to me that I had already seen a number of large charities who support their fundraisers with ideas for events and a few downloadable resources, however I thought it would be a useful exercise to examine this area and come up with a guide for organisations who are thinking about developing this section of their sites.
Most organisers will probably look to the website to get the handy information they need to spark off ideas and get vital support from the organisation in order to make their fundraising event a success. This is the first barrier they will face so it is important to have some content around ‘Getting started’ which offers ideas for events and access to members of your staff if they have any questions at all. RNIB have a great list of ideas you can look at and there are plenty more out the on the net, a quick Google search will definitely help you to put together a good list which will suit your organisation. Along with this I would suggest including success stories you have had from previous events (if any) or possibly a message to reinforce why their fundraising matters.
I read a quote somewhere that ‘all the flowers of all the tomorrows are the seeds of today’ and that’s a great attitude to have towards planning, so help your potential organisers by providing resources that spell out exactly what needs to go into their planning for the event and water those seeds from the start!
Things to consider here are providing a downloadable check-list to make sure people are aware of all of the different elements they need to get their fundraising idea going. Things like having a fundraising target, planning how funds will be collected and stored (online or offline), how funds can be transferred to the charity, what promotional tools and publicity considerations they may need to make, how to plan the date and ways to invite their intended audiences are all key. Legalities are important and it would be better to have this info readily available to download too.
Oxfam have a great downloadable PDF which you can access, it’s full of bright colourful images useful content to make the planning process inviting and as easy as possible. Marie Curie have found a great way to present their info online with navigation tabs to all the key aspects of planning an event, including easy to find resources. Further content which can help with the planning side are things such as sponsorship forms to fill out on the day and brand guidelines including crucial information to include in communications.
Charities can support fundraisers in many different ways, from helping them to promote their events using the charities own dedicated web pages and social media channels, down to providing templates for promotional materials and offering merchandise to be sold on the day.
A charity which seems to have thought about this in some detail is Childhood Cancer Canada foundation who not only have downloadable posters and banners but also event invitations, welcome letters to individuals, thank you notes/certificates and the good old fundraising goal thermometer! A high quality logo is also crucial to allow your organisers to use your official branding. While it is understandable that there could be some apprehension in giving access to all of these materials in most cases it seems that some form of site registration is required before full access to downloadable materials is granted, which is presumably verified by staff from the organisation.
Although it isn’t strictly a digital tool, merchandise is still a great addition to the website toolkit and can be presented effectively online through a ‘product gallery’ which allows you to zoom in on the items. Macmillan have a rather large amount of merchandise available which includes a lot items which could prove useful in event promotion and fundraising such as balloons, stickers, badges, larger banners etc.
As mentioned above fundraisers will benefit greatly from organisations using their social media audiences to spread the word about events and advertise for volunteers. Having a web page dedicated to events and tying this in with an online calendar or Google map could be particularly useful to have on the website so volunteers and attendees can easily find events near them and to search for any that are upcoming. In addition to this some organisations offer press release templates for people to send to their local media to try and get some free coverage.
For large and small charities alike it is equally important to offer all of the necessary support and resources via the most easily accessible and multi functional channel – their website. Not only is it important to have the right tools in place for them deliver the event but once it has taken place it would also be a great for the fundraiser and the organisation to feature their event on the charity’s site, including as many pictures as possible, to reward the individuals involved and to show other who visit the site what can be achieved.
Whilst it may mean some initial effort on the part of the charity in putting these materials together it can only pay dividends in the long run as you essentially do all of the climbing up to the top of the metaphorical water slide and let your supporters enjoy the effortless ride down!
If you’ve found this post helpful or you can think of any more tools for fundraisers that could form part of an online toolkit that haven’t been mentioned please let us know via the comments section below.