If you need some convincing about the impact of a match funding campaign can have on an organisation, read Aaron Barbour's story of how he ran his first online fundraising campaign for the Katherine Low Settlement, in Battersea. There are plenty of tips and advice on how to start. Thanks Aaron.
Aaron Barbour, Katherine Low Settlement's Director, explains
“At KLS we support children, young people and their families, older people and refugee communities. Our building is used for community activities and events by over 500 people a week, and our rooms are available for hire at really affordable rates.
When I started as Director here at KLS we had no online fundraising strategy – our first step was to set up a donation platform on our website. We use Charity Checkout – which for a monthly fee will receive and process any donations into our account.
This has worked well and remains an important means by which people can give and a way to keep in touch with our community. However in the current climate where there is less funding and increased demand for our services, I needed to diversify our income and find other ways to add to the coffers. I started researching what was out there and talking to other charities about online fundraising. It is really important to ask around and get advice from people you trust.
We have a very good relationship with the Childhood Trust and their Director advised we should look into match funding as research shows that people are 36% more likely to donate if they know that every penny they donate will effectively be doubled and have an even greater impact. He suggested that the Big Give Would be a good place to start.
I was quite frankly terrified at the prospect, as I had never done any thing like this before. Firstly, we had no real supporter base set up to go out to ask for charitable donations on this scale and second this targeted fundraising approach was not something traditionally KLS had done.
There are broadly 3 steps in the process of match funding...
Step One – Find a supporter to fund the campaign
You need to find an initial amount of money as your core pot to match against. We have a very long-standing relationship with Francis Holland School going back 94+ years as well as the Childhood Trust. Both agreed to provide the core funding we needed to get the ball rolling. The good thing about this funding approach is if you don’t raise a matched amount – neither of our ‘backers’ would be required to pay this initial promised amount. Your initial match fund can be as little as £100. So with the approach of “what’s the best (not the worst) that could happen”, KLS set out on the next stage of the project – contacting our supporters to ask for donations.
Step Two – Get a list of potential donors together
Over many years we have collected the contact details of many different people who are either interested in the work we do here; book our rooms; attend events; work with us on different partnerships and networks. With this mailing list and by utilising local networks, we composed a very persuasive email to let them know about the new fundraising campaign. It is really important to stress two things.
- Any donations they make will effectively be doubled by the match fund
- The need for immediate action as the fundraising campaign is time limited (3 or 4 days) in which they can donate once the fundraiser has been launched
Step Three – Make a communications plan for the match fund
It was really helpful to use the Big Give’s templates for our communications around this project - including a mini strategy, messaging, frequency of mailouts, materials (social media adverts, videos, case studies, quotes, photos etc) routes to follow up any enquiries and thank yous. And also to think about how people could donate who were not online."
"We were literally blown away by the support we received. People have been so generous. We emailed one week before the event opened, 2 minutes after it went live and followed up with more emails and phone calls. And made sure we contacted everyone to thank them for their support at the time and when we reached our target."
- We now have an active donor list that we maintain
- We find new donors every time we have run one of these online fundraising campaigns
- We have much stronger relationships with our donors and the local community now. We find different ways to involve them in the work of KLS. For example, we invite people to come and find out about our projects – for example attending the homework club and holiday activities we run with young refugees; or encouraging them to volunteer
- We are very conscious of promoting the impact of the money that we receive through donations on our service delivery. We make videos and write up case studies to show rather than tell the story
- This has helped us to position ourselves as a fundraising charity, which we never did before. Some local people, particularly those not online, have given us cash to add to the fund
So my final advice, having run 3 Big Give campaigns now, would be:
- Do a feasibility study first
- Be prepared – go into the venture with your eyes open to the amount of work you will need to do over a short period of time in the run up to and during the campaign
- Consider your first match funding campaign as a pilot
- Set up an evaluation process to look at the impact of the fundraiser on your organisation. It’s not just about the money, it’s also the impact on the staff team, stretching resources and finding new ways of working
- Grow it, if the long-term benefits of increased income outweigh any downsides
Director Katherine Low Settlement
About KLS: Katherine Low Settlement (KLS) is a much-loved busy charity that has been at the heart of the community in Battersea, South West London, since 1924. With a few staff and a lot of volunteers, it runs a range of community projects. Its mission is to reduce poverty, isolation and bring the local community in Battersea together.