We spoke to our very own Emma Rawlingson (Programmes Manager at Localgiving), Localgiving member Hannah Rowan (Project Manager at West Rhyl Young People’s Project), Mike Lewis (Grant Manager Wales at Lloyds Bank Foundation) and Neil Pringle (Fund Manager at Gwynt y Môr Community Fund) to get four different perspectives on digital fundraising.
Raising money for a charity online has the obvious and instant benefit of swelling the coffers - but it’s not a quick fix. It takes a little time and effort to get digital fundraising right.
“Online fundraising can be difficult for ultra local organisations, especially those that lack time and resources. Add financial pressures into the mix and it can lead groups to focus heavily on grant funding,” explained Emma Rawlingson , Programmes Manager at Localgiving.
That effort to make digital fundraising work pays dividends, though.
“However, online fundraising provides an easy, quick and secure way for groups to raise additional, unrestricted funding - the type of funding that can be difficult to secure through grants,” Emma said.
Digital fundraising isn’t a panacea for all our funding worries - but neither are grants. In a persistently challenging economic climate, it’s important for charities to have multiple income streams. Think of fundraising, grants, and other sources of money as jigsaw pieces that, when joined, form a wider plan for how a charity generates its income.
“With the current funding climate placing significant pressure on charities, we know it’s important that organisations have a mix of ways to raise money,” said Mike Lewis, Grant Manager Wales at Lloyds Bank Foundation.
It’s tough out there! Our 2016 Local Charity and Community Groups Sustainability Report found that 76% of groups surveyed highlighted "competition for grants and contracts" as a financial concern. Relying on a single income source is risky, and a boost from online donations can bring some welcome breathing space when things get a bit tight.
To succeed at online fundraising, a charity must first reach out to people, develop relationships and build trust - and when they do that, they get more than donations in return.
“Fundraising and digital fundraising in particular is an important way charities can reach out to and engage supporters in a cost effective way so they are better placed to help the disadvantaged people they work with,” Mike added.
West Rhyl Young People’s Project (WRYPP) is testament to this. They’ve received support through Localgiving’s Big Lottery funded Wales Development Programme to set up a donations page, develop new marketing materials and tap into new audiences.
“Since joining Localgiving, we’re more active online and we’re enjoying an increased profile locally. Because of that, we’ve been able to connect with supporters we didn’t know we had,” explained Hannah Rowan, Project Manager at West Rhyl Young People’s Project.
WRYPP has used the money raised on Localgiving so far to reach and support more young people.
“With our LGBT project Viva, we have grants to work in some counties, but not others. Donations through Localgiving have helped us meet the costs of travelling to support young people in need right across North Wales, in areas not covered by our funded projects,” Hannah said.
At Localgiving, we’re passionate about helping local charities like WRYPP feel empowered to take advantage of the opportunities presented by digital, and to use the tools available to get the recognition their cause deserves. It’s a passion shared by Lloyds Bank Foundation.
“As a Foundation we are keen to support charities develop their digital capacity and we can fund marketing and communications consultants, website and social media developments through our grant programmes,” Mike added.
We’ve established that it’s important to think of fundraising and grants as separate pieces in a larger income generation puzzle. But when the time does come to apply for a grant, don’t discount the value of your charity’s digital activities and online fundraising efforts.
“Demonstrating a contribution to a project, like donations raised through online fundraising, sends a strong message to a funder that the applicant is committed,” explained Neil Pringle, Fund Manager at Gwynt y Môr Community Fund.
If a charity can independently raise even a small percentage of the project cost, they can then ask for a bit less from a grant funder. That means the funder’s pot goes further, enabling them to support even more projects. Perhaps more importantly, it’s a way to show grant funders that theirs is an idea local people are genuinely interested in.
“Building buy-in, and raising awareness and funds through an online campaign says to a potential funder ‘everyone is involved’. It shows that the project has credibility in the local community, and people want it to happen," Neil added.
Not only will online fundraising help your charity raise some extra cash (that you can spend on the things your charity really needs), it could also help you to become more financially sustainable, expose you to new supporters and opportunities, and give you an edge during a competitive grant application process.
Thanks to our Wales Development Programme, kindly funded and supported by Big Lottery Fund Wales, West Rhyl Young People’s Project is benefitting from:
If you represent a local Third Sector Organisation in Wales and would like to take part in the Wales Development Programme, head to join.localgiving.org/wales and register your interest today!