Suzanne McCarthy, Depaul UK
My time as a charitable trustee has made one thing clearer than ever before: charities need both time and money from their supporters.
Asking people to donate their time is very similar to asking people to donate their money. Both require honesty and a little bit of creativity. Sometimes we make fundraising too complicated, so it’s good to remember that getting the basics right can make the funds flow.
Standards give you a solid foundation
It’s important to know what is expected of your organisation when approaching the public. By following the standards in the Fundraising Code, you can be confident that you won’t harm the trust you’ve built with your supporters. And with that solid foundation in place, it’s time to get creative!
Be creative - tell a story
Of course, you’re not the only organisation asking people for support – whether you need time from volunteers or money from individuals. Being creative will help you stand out, and you must always start with the cause.
At Depaul UK, we rely on financial support from our donors to help young people who are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of being homeless. We also rely on the time and energy of our volunteers.
In 2017 we were chosen to be a part of the Guardian and Observer Charity Appeal. We told the stories of some of the people we’ve helped, like 22-year-old National Youth Theatre performer Corey, and 18-year-old rugby player Stan.
Each story highlighted the work we do with services like Nightstop, which matches hosts with young people who need a place to spend the night. As a result, the appeal raised over £1.5 million split between Depaul UK and two other charities (Naccom and Centrepoint). It was our storytelling and our focus on beneficiaries that made the appeal a success.
There is honesty in showing your work
So we know storytelling works. It’s the best way to show what you do, creating a direct link between the supporter and the supported. There is honesty in showing people exactly where their time and/or money is going, and honesty is vital to maintaining support.
So when you’re looking for ways to encourage the public to either become a volunteer, donate money or join your trustee board, start with your beneficiaries. You wouldn’t have a story worth telling if it wasn’t for the work you do to benefit society.
Suzanne McCarthy is the Chair of the Fundraising Regulator Standards Committee, and Chair of Depaul UK.