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4 Things We Can Learn From Small Charity Fundraisers

Smaller charities are the heart of communities across the UK that keep tummies full, families connected, and kids playing.

And during the pandemic and continuous lockdowns, it was smaller charities that used their networks and reach to support people in their communities that were cut off, isolated, or at risk.

They keep the country moving and should be applauded for everything they do.

When we’re putting together webinars or virtual events on Fundraising Everywhere we see small charities as an excellent source of insight for the wider sector. Sure, they might not have the big teams or big budgets to do all of the flashy digital things but there are plenty of ways they’re amazing at the fundraising fundamentals.

They are small yet mighty.

Here are just four reasons that small teams and budgets help small charities play big when it comes to fundraising – and what we can all learn from them.

1. They move and pivot fast

Thanks to smaller teams and increased trust in colleagues from closer working relationships, small charity fundraisers are the best at making decisions fast and getting the most out of an opportunity.

In 2018, Tiny Tickers spotted a PR opportunity on LinkedIn with an ad agency wanting to work with a heart charity. Within an hour the decision had been made to partner up and twelve days later their campaign went live with a Christmas light switch on in their local town. It raised an extra £3,000, reached new audiences including international, and won awards – all before the bigger charities had received all of the input they needed internally for sign-off.

I’m not saying you should keep your staff numbers low, but there is a lot to learn here about the internal processes we have and whether they’re the right ones for fundraising. Review your processes with quick, informed decisions being your top priority.

2. They are connected to the community around them

Smaller charities have the benefit of working in the community and meeting with the people they exist for every day. Everyone from the receptionist to the CEO is able to talk to people impacted by the cause and share what they’ve learned with the wider team.

During my time at St Oswald’s Hospice this connection was key and many fundraising opportunities came from the visibility we had in the local community and the familiarity that came with it. Whether it was invite to feature at a fair or an opportunity to pitch to a local corporate, having a face for the brand meant we were front of mind for DIY fundraisers looking to work more closely with the charity.

If you want to improve your connection to your local community, join local Facebook, networking and corporate groups to hear first hand about what matters most to the people who live where you work.

3. They have powerful stories to share

It’s also because of this more direct connection with the community that small charity fundraisers are some of the best storytellers you can ever meet.

Through their increased interaction with beneficiaries and front-line staff, collecting and understanding stories is an every day occurrence that means they’re equipped for those, ‘tell me what you do?’ moments.

A few ways you can improve your storytelling is to create more opportunities to talk to front-line staff, start a diary of stories you hear in the news or updates to share with supporters, or seek out your own using these interview questions created by copywriter, Jen Love.

  1. What was your life like before being involved with our charity?
  2. Think about someone who has helped you, how did it make you feel?
  3. Tell me about your life now.

Three storytelling interview Qs by Jen Love: 1. What was your life like before being involved with our charity? 2. Think about someone who has helped you, how did it make you feel? 3. Tell me about your life now.

4.They are brilliant at stewardship

And finally, small charity fundraisers are great at stewardship.

Because of their direct contact with supporters and beneficiaries, their empathy and connection to the people who make it happen means they will do almost anything to remind them that they’re appreciated.

Viki Hayden-Ward regularly hand-writes her appeals, thank you letters and Christmas cards as a way to connect with supporters and humanise the organisation – and with great results. Her 2020 hand-written campaign resulted in an 86% response rate from donors and an increase on 2020’s fundraising.

If you want to connect more with donors, implement small and interactive ways to stay connected that go beyond digital comms. Pick up the phone, write a postcard, or make the most of our increased virtual world and arrange a video call with key supporters you’ve not checked in with for a while.

You’re invited! Join us at Small Charity Legends

We’ll be celebrating, upskilling, and platforming small charities at the Small Charity Legends virtual summit on 7th July 2021. The first 35 JustGiving blog readers to sign up using discount code FIRST35 will get a free ticket, and after that you can use it to claim a 50% discount!

Join us for two-hours of jam-packed sessions designed specifically to what small charities have told us they need, including maximising resource, coping as a solo fundraiser, and growing digital fundraising from scratch. 

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One-third of donors directed half their giving to disaster relief | Philanthropy news

Last year, 37 percent of American donors gave half or more of their charitable contributions to disaster relief efforts, and 64 percent gave to a charity they had never supported before, a survey commissioned by Vanguard Charitable finds.

Conducted by the Harris Poll on behalf of Vanguard Charitable, the survey of more than 1,300 American donors found that the top reasons American donors gave to disaster relief included wanting to assist those impacted by humanitarian crises (46 percent), feeling overwhelmed by a situation and wanting to help (33 percent), seeing charitable giving as the only way they could provide support (30 percent), and having a personal connection to the disaster/crisis (30 percent). The survey found that donors who contributed to disaster relief efforts gave more overall, meaning that disaster relief giving did not take away from, or occur in place of, ongoing giving. 

“From COVID-19 to a devastating humanitarian crisis caused by the war in Ukraine, we’ve seen donors respond to disaster relief needs in inspiring and meaningful ways,” said Vanguard Charitable president Rebecca Moffett. “In fact, this data reflects that disaster relief support is an integral part of the giving landscape, often increasing total generosity as donors look to give when and where support is needed most. And because the money in donor-advised funds has already been set aside for charitable purposes, donations from DAFs tend to be more responsive in moments of crisis, and more resilient during moments of economic uncertainty.”

(Photo credit: Getty Images/Drazen Zigic)

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Trust in nonprofits fell slightly last year, survey finds | Philanthropy news

While there is room for U.S. institutions across the board to increase public trust, a majority of respondents believe nonprofits will do what is right for society, a survey conducted by Independent Sector finds. 

Conducted in February in partnership with Edelman Data & Intelligence, the third-annual Trust in Civil Society survey found that 56 percent of Americans said they trust nonprofits, down 3 percentage points from the 2020 benchmark study (59 percent). Trust in philanthropy edged down from 36 percent to 34 percent during the same period. According to the survey, financial well-being and education are major drivers of trust, and trust of nonprofits among women fell during the pandemic.

Given the findings, Independent Sector recommended that nonprofits work to make greater progress to support and strengthen the country, for example by leveraging trust in the social sector to strengthen U.S. democracy, deepening engagement with communities and institutions, and upholding public expectations of government accountability.

“Increasing public trust of institutions and the social sector is a pressing issue for the U.S. We all benefit from strong public trust,” said Independent Sector president and CEO Daniel J. Cardinali. “Trust is the priceless currency for nonprofits, philanthropies, business charity programs, and all of us to build a healthy, equitable society. We see what happens when trust breaks. Our 2022 Independent Sector Trust in Civil Society report elevates important data and recommendations for conversations about how the social sector can engage more deeply and do better so everyone in our country thrives.” 

(Photo credit: Getty Images/SDI Productions)

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Digital, other channels of giving are expanding, study finds | Philanthropy news

Emerging trends in the United Kingdom and Brazil reveal an expansion of digital and other types of channels for giving, including online giving, crowdfunding, charity rounding up, and social impact publishing, a new research series from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI finds.

The research series, Digital for Good: A Global Study on Emerging Ways of Giving, builds on the school’s Global Philanthropy Environment Index and Global Philanthropy Tracker and will be released in phases over the next five months. The first two studies examine philanthropic engagement in Brazil and the UK prior to and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, with profiles of China, India, Kenya, Singapore, South Africa, and South Korea to follow.

Based on an analysis of three case studies in Brazil, the first profile found that prominent emerging ways of giving include charity rounding up, crowdfunding, and social impact publishing, which involves the production of inspiring, revenue-producing editorial content. Donations collected through rounding up for charity via Arredondar increased from BRL1,091 in 2013 (equivalent to $590 in 2021, adjusted for inflation) to more than BRL1.6 million in 2020 (equivalent to $330,186 in 2021, adjusted for inflation). In addition, the study found that the most successful initiatives prioritized transparency and accountability in giving.

Based on an online survey of nearly 3,000 individuals in the UK, the profile found that prominent expanded methods of giving include online giving and crowdfunding. Among donors interviewed between May and July 2021, 60 percent reported that gifts they had made in the past year had been made online, with the most common way being through a third-party app. In addition, researchers found that 63 percent of people who used social media to request donations also made requests in person.

“The results of the first two country profiles suggest an evolution in giving practices and highlight a significant expansion of digital giving practices and peer-to-peer giving,” said Amir Pasic, the Eugene R. Tempel Dean of the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. “While these findings are the first in a series, the documented growth in digital giving and shifting donor expectations in the UK and in Brazil reinforce existing evidence that digital practices can help democratize the practice of philanthropy. Digital innovation makes philanthropy accessible and fosters greater transparency and accountability for how gifts lead to impact.”

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

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