Can’t start a fire without a spark – how to build community relationships

Can’t start a fire without a spark – how to build community relationships

Guest Bloggers | 21 August 2018

As community fundraisers we have a huge amount of methods and tools readily available that help us to find, build and grow successful fundraising relationships and the amazing news is, it’s free. Want to know the secret? It’s you.


Your attention to detail, attentiveness to relationships and proactive approach to fundraising is the key to finding those supporters who will not only want to help you succeed, but want to stay with you to keep doing it.

It can be daunting as a community fundraiser, given a region of the UK to look after and asked to crack on with raising money from those within it. Who do you approach; what’s the best way to go about it and when you meet them; what do you say?!

Here are some pointers to help you get started:

Be proactive

Hopefully you work for an organisation that gets supporters coming to you to offer help, and with careful management, these people can do wonderful things for you. But, by proactively seeking out partners and individuals whose values and mission complements your own, you increase your chances of success and they’ll raise more for you because the partnership makes sense; their emotions are stirred, they’re engaged with your cause and they see what both sides gain from the arrangement. 

My partnership with an NHS support company smashed its £25k target within the first two months because the alignment was obvious; they exist to support the NHS, and with their British Heart Foundation fundraising they can help beat heart disease which will save the NHS £9 billion a year, and will save millions of lives to boot.


Get out of the office

I have never won a significant partnership or started a long-term relationship with a supporter by sending an email. Get out there! Network, visit local events, meet people for brews and really connect with each person and find the spark that leads to successful fundraising relationships. 

Face to face meetings are where you can actively listen to the language and animation your supporter is using, meaning you can understand their motives and values. This is a double whammy; they can see you’ve obviously taken the time to get to know them, and coupled with your perfect ask means you’ve boosted your chances of a ‘yes’ massively.


Get digital

Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google alerts … the list of free digital tools is huge, and fundraisers should be using them to their full potential to not only seek out potential supporters, but add an extra layer to fundraising relationships to really excite and stand out from the crowd. But simply getting an account and throwing out content isn’t going to cut it, it needs to be quality more than quantity when it comes to posting. So make sure you’re posting where your supporters are and sharing content with them that they want to see, not just what you want them to see.


Show some #donorlove

Perhaps the most important point; did you know the number one reason for a supporter not donating again to charity is they weren’t properly thanked for their previous donation or they didn’t feel appreciated? That needs to stop. Thank supporters quickly, sincerely and creatively to strengthen that bond and show that your charity is a one that cares, needs and appreciates the support that it receives.


These are just four basic points to get you going, there isn’t really enough space in a blog to fully explain the tools we can use as fundraisers to find and strengthen our community relationships. 

That’s why Rebecca Curtis-Moss, Digital Manager at CHAS, and I are running a session at the Scottish Fundraising Conference to delve into the points above in more detail and give delegates other tried and tested methods of relationship fundraising that you can crack on with straight away.

Book your ticket today, and join myself and Rebecca on 2 October to share how brilliant fundraisers are nailing community fundraising for their organisations in our Bruce Springsteen inspired session. There’s even some Haribo in it for you!


Nikki Bell, Fundraising Manager at British Heart Foundation     @CharityNikki


View the full Scottish Fundraising Conference programme and book your place!


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