Jess Boyes was Arts Fundraising Fellow for Mind the Gap until September 2016, and has remained at the organisation as Development Officer.
In 2011, a child called Caine set up a cardboard arcade in his dad’s garage. By chance, a filmmaker who stopped by to buy some car parts was inspired by Caine’s story. Five years later, Caine’s Arcade has had tens of thousands of customers and over $240,000 has been raised to send him to college. Caine isn’t the only person with a story.
Your people are your greatest assets. They tell your stories like nobody else can, and storytelling is crucial for fundraising (as Felicity’s blog shows). We know it’s about relationships, and we know that people respond, and give, to people.
Kevin Baughen’s article, Letting Others Tell Your Stories For You, acknowledges the need for not just statistics, but emotional evidence; if audiences “feel it, they are more likely to engage with it”. I’m not suggesting we all launch huge campaigns like those he discusses, but I am interested in how this idea translates for fundraisers.
How do we put our people in front of those who make the decisions?
- Take people to meetings. Whether it’s a corporate sponsor, a local authority commissioner or an individual donor, give them the opportunity to engage with the people that they are directly supporting.
- Networking events and conferences are full of influential people, and at our recent training session with Frances Tipper it became evident that the most engaging people were those who told individuals’ stories. Recent work at Mind the Gap proves it’s even more engaging when people tell their own stories; so, our team rarely attend events alone and work on the basis that there should be “nothing about us without us.”
- Make the most of informal introductions. A colleague mentioned a Patron of their company who would spend the interval of any performance talking to staff about how brilliant the organisation was. This person is a brilliant advocate, and we know that peer-to-peer relationships are incredibly effective, so don’t overlook any opportunities for informal introductions.
- Think about the format of your applications. Recently I’ve been involved in a Stage One application to the Spirit of 2012 Trust, which welcomes applications in film format. Through filmed interviews with participants, we were able to say more in five minutes than we could have in 5000 words. This format was an exception, but demonstrated the benefit of using other voices. Be innovative: think about including quotes, pictures, testimonials or even interviews with participants in written applications.
- Case studies are an easy way to articulate change and individual journeys cialis generique en belgique. For me, this was vital in creating a compelling argument based around impact for our successful capital applications to the Garfield Weston Foundation and the Clothworkers’ Foundation. Lots of stories, however, can go under the radar so make sure you really get to know people – the more stories you know, the more you can tell.
- Make your social media fun. We already know that the work you produce is great. Show us the fun stuff that we wouldn’t otherwise see; let your social media communicate personality and demonstrate the impact you have on people everyday. Posts with pictures are proven to initiate more engagement, so show us rehearsal shots, participation activities, events and account takeovers. (I’m biased, but I think we do it pretty well.)
- Do your people have a voice on your board? Whether it’s as a board member or through regular presentations, discussions or debates, ensure that your board remain engaged with your people. Is your board representative of your organisation? And if not, how can you involve participants to ensure their voice is at the heart of everything?
- Send a thank you from your participants and keep your donors updated on peoples’ development; let them know what has changed as a result of their support.