Don't assume your charitable status is known
I have been struck by charities who aren’t able to maximise their fundraising efforts because the public is unaware of their charitable status. At least two of the charities participating on our Fundraising Health Check project have begun to address this in their new fundraising strategies.
There can be various reasons for the public misconstruing an organisation’s charitable status and, therefore, their need for financial support. One example is when a charity’s work is associated with the statutory sector. This must be especially prevalent given the number of services the third sector has taken on in the past decade. Another example is when a charity’s income is, or has largely been, made up of grants, contracts and social enterprise.
The latter has been true for new Fundraising Health Check participant charity, Age Connects Torfaen. The organisation has done an excellent job of growing the funded services it offers and the social enterprises it runs, including its on-site bistro, nail-cutting service and health suite.
Now Age Connects Torfaen is looking to further build its sustainability and generate more unrestricted income. One of the first barriers it has identified to developing new fundraising activity is the need to raise its profile as a charitable organisation, i.e. that it is able to raise money through fundraising.
In his recent FREDtalk, Ken Burnett spoke of how fundraising and communications go hand in hand. Communicating about your organisation and its charitable status will in turn make your fundraising easier, and including messages about your charitable status in your fundraising materials will also raise awareness.
There are explicit and implicit ways to change the public’s understanding of your charitable status:
- Including your charity registration number on all promotional items makes it very clear to people that you are a charity in the most common sense of the word and that they could donate money to you
- Put the word ‘charity’ at the start of your event titles for a fixed amount of time as you try to get the message across e.g. ‘charity bike ride’ or ‘charity dinner’
- If you don’t already have one, consider moving to a website ending in .org.uk or .org – domain names especially for not for profit organisations
- Set up online giving profiles and promote this across your website and social media. Generally speaking, only registered charities are eligible to use these platforms, so it implies your charitable status (and makes it easier for donors to give to you). Money Saving Expert compares the most popular platforms and their value per donation here
- Being part of a supermarket’s token scheme (added bonus of a donation at the end of it) is a very local way of raising your charitable profile – your logo and a brief explanation of your charity/project sits in the supermarket for months at a time
If you are based in Wales and your charity would benefit from more advice and guidance on growing your profile for giving and developing a fundraising strategy, contact Alison Pritchard, Project Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0292 034 0062
Alison Pritchard, Project Coordinator, Institute of Fundraising Wales