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  • 03 Apr 2017
    It’s easy to be a better donor. All you need to do is ask for your donation to be used for core costs. Why 'core costs'? 1) Because if you ask any charity* what they need and what they find hardest to fund, they will always reply “core costs”. Take this diagram from the recent State of the VCSE Sector in Somerset report which shows the responses to the question ”what three areas do you find it hardest to raise funds for?” If you trust the charity to deliver positive social change, then why not trust them to know what they need to spend your money on. 2) The clue is in the name ‘core’. These are all the things at the heart of a charity that they need to pay for before they can do any good. They are often not very interesting: electricity bills, auditor fees, rent, IT support contracts. The largest cost is usually staff wages – vital if you want to build trusting relationships with the most vulnerable people in society. Staff salaries, including for senior managers and CEOs, are not a ‘nice to have’ – they are fundamental. A charity cannot commit to supporting a care leaver for the next few years as they transition into adulthood, if they don’t think their team or even their organisation will still be around to see this through. Neither can they commit to providing vital community transport or counselling for someone with a life limiting condition or being there for people in recovery from mental ill health. They need a solid core to offer consistent and long-term support. And surely that long-term help is what any donors wants to support? 3) Charities are experiencing many demands – loss of statutory funding, increased demands for services, changes in technology. They need to adapt – to work with others, to deliver services in new ways, to grow or develop. If their core is wobbly then it is hard to find the time, the headspace, the resources needed to make good decisions about how best to change. There is a need to invest in the core of any charity to ensure it continues to focus on delivering relevant, quality services – and if it is looking to grow then, of course, the core needs to grow too. Source: 4) And finally, as a donor giving core funding, you can feel reassured that you have done the most good you can with your donation. You will have demonstrated your trust in your chosen charity, your commitment to their future and your understanding of what they need. I have no doubt that you will receive heartfelt thanks. * I am using ‘charity’ to mean any social purpose organisations including voluntary groups, community interest companies and social enterprises. Emma Beeston advises philanthropists and grant makers on how best to direct their money to the causes they care about. Support includes strategy and programme design, scoping studies, assessments and monitoring visits.;; @emmabeeston01  Found this blog post useful? You may also like:    Do you have the courage to let your supporters own their story? 7 digital tactics for small charities in volatile times       4 Steps to the perfect charity Video  
    6243 Posted by Emma Beeston
Tips & guides 5,195 views May 11, 2016
Don’t save your pitch for the elevator

Emma Beeston is an experienced grant maker and philanthropy advisor. She advises funders and philanthropists on how best to donate their funds to effect social change.

The 3-minute pitch is a fundraising classic

Everyone involved in a charity, whether a fundraiser or not, should have their compelling ‘case for support’ ready to go at a moment’s notice. You never know who you will meet at a conference, on the train, or even in a lift, who may be in a position to donate to your charity if you just get the pitch right.

However, time and time again, at funding fairs, workshops and events and even when visiting a charity to conduct an assessment, this is a common exchange:

Q: Tell me about your charity?

A: We were founded in 2006 and became a charity in 2007...

I appreciate that I am a funding officer and not a major donor, so you don’t need to persuade me to hand over my own money. But I am a person who, alongside all the questions about finances and governance, really wants to know why you do what you do and the difference it makes. Once you have told me that, then you can go on and tell me about your background and how long you have been established. Or even better, just tell me that when I ask.

The same rule applies as for all effective communication: be led by the audience. Don’t tell me what you want to say, tell me what I need to hear.

And more importantly I have also facilitated meetings and network events where charities get to meet with MPs or other such high profile people and the same thing commonly happens. The charity representative starts with the history of the charity. If this is you and your staff, you need to break this habit and start talking about the purpose of your work. And even though they are unlikely to donate, that is exactly what an MP wants to hear too. In fact that really should be the first thing you tell pretty much everyone you meet.

So next time you meet a funder, MP, neighbour, friend at a party and they ask what you do, please be ready:

Q: Tell me about your charity?

A: We work towards the eradication of slavery wherever it is found. We provide survivors with safety, hope and choice (from Unseen UK).


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