Independent Living Institute


Disability Awareness in Action
Resource Kit No. 5

by Agnes Fletcher
© 1996 Disability Awareness in Action, All rights reserved

Download the "Fund-Raising Kit" as a PDF file (120 KB)

About this Kit

"Disabled people should move away from charitable behaviour. We should do away with being dependent." Beatrice Ngobo, South Africa.

No Money: No Dignity, No Democracy, No Rights

The greatest problem most disabled people have is poverty. A disabled person with a job or an organisation with money is in a far stronger position.

Organisations of disabled people need funds to:

Many institutions give funds to organisations to help them run projects and activities.

This kit gives ideas about your funding strategy - how to raise and use money effectively.

Organisations of disabled people need to have the skills to:

This kit shows you how to raise and use funds for the work of your organisation - by finding out about funding agencies, sending good funding proposals and managing your money well. You can use it to help you put together a funding proposal. At the end, you should be able to show the answers to all the questions given on page 21.

Ways of Fund-Raising

Companies give in different ways. They give cash or "gifts in kind" (resources other than money - anything from paint to paperclips). Large companies may even let members of staff work for you full-time, "on secondment", paying the whole of the employee’s costs.They believe this to be the most cost-effective support for a project in which they want to make a real impact.

Businesses may also help to run training sessions for members of a voluntary organisation -for example, in basic bookkeeping, management or public relations skills.

Most companies prefer to support local organisations in the communities in which they operate, leaving national support to public and grant-making bodies. Many companies also prefer appeals that are relevant to their business, perhaps a project of interest to the users of their products or services, and to appeals in which a member of staff is involved.

All companies get more appeals than they can possibly hope to support. Because of the administrative tasks, most have to make almost instant decisions on which appeals to reject without further consideration. Many reject appeals that are obviously sent in the same form to large numbers of companies, poorly presented appeals or appeals which are obviously inappropriate. This is why it is so important to think very carefully about whether a company might be interested. Use any contacts you have to find this out. Write a brief personal appeal letter, highlighting the benefits to the company (good public relations, potential new clients, coverage in local media, etc.).

Imagine someone having to read 60 funding applications a week and only being able to give two or three hours a week to this. The easier you make it for them to read and respond to your appeal, the easier it will be for them to say yes.

Companies Give

Companies don’t like to keep refusing worthwhile causes, so keep trying. Don’t pester but politely try, as often as funding applications are allowed - unless you know the company just won’t give to disabled people or you can’t afford the postage. One charity recently got a big donation after more than 10 years of trying! Most of us wouldn’t want to continue trying for that long. But if you are turned down, think about ways to improve your approach.

Sponsorship by a business is, for the business, a form of advertising: they pay money to have their product or company advertised by you in your publication, at your conference, on your envelopes or in other ways. If you want sponsorship, you have to be absolutely certain that the company you are approaching will benefit. For instance:

Many larger voluntary organisations get paid-for advertising for their annual reports, for brochures for special events, and in other printed materials which are going to a large readership or to a selected readership. Offer advertising space to particular companies. If, for instance, a special issue of your newsletter is on transport, speak to approved car companies.

Some organisations have gained sponsorship for aids and equipment by agreeing to put the name of the sponsor on the equipment. In Colombia, the cost of making dropped kerbs has been paid for by local businesses who put their names as plaques in the kerbs as a reminder of their sponsorship!

For sponsorship, you approach the marketing or advertising part of the company. Ask for the marketing or advertising manager. Give them information on how many people are likely to see the company’s name or how many areas you can cover

For instance, if you are trying to find sponsorship to buy a vehicle, say where you will be taking the vehicle (which can have the sponsor’s name on it) and how often it will be out and about. If you want sponsorship for a publication, say how many people will read it.

You can ask people to become a ’friend’ or supporter of your organisation. This can be an easy way of asking for money, though it does not always bring in a lot.

Most disabled people do not have the money for subscription but some do. You can have different subscription rates for different groups of people. For example, disabled members, non-disabled family and friends, non-disabled benefactors ("friends") in the community.

Make sure the subscription rates are reasonable.

You can make titles for people who wish to give different subscriptions and set a price on each of these titles, with different benefits, such as getting the newsletter, coming to meetings, using a particular service that you run. Titles might be:

Consider whether a subscription scheme is going to be worthwhile.

Remember you have to collect the money, send out reminders, keep an up-to-date list. All this takes staff time - which is money. So work out a rough budget - how many possible members against time spent - and see whether it is worth it.

If you have a large readership of a newsletter, and therefore already have a list and can easily contact your members, then a subscription may be worth it. But if you have only a few members and cannot make enough contacts in the community, then a subscription may not be worthwhile.

Local Sources of Finance
Raising money locally should be a big part of your fund-raising strategy. It provides money but it also helps your relationship with supporters in the local community. If people have helped your project, they will feel a part of its success. This is as important as the money you raise.

As long as what you do is legal and upholds the dignity of disabled people, there is no reason why you should not use a variety of methods to raise money.

Fund-Raising Events
Here are some ideas for events and activities that you might organise to raise money:

Arranging Things Making it Successful:
A good idea + good organisation + hard work = SUCCESS

Fund-raising events have one drawback - they take time. Build your activities around people who want to do them and who have the necessary skills to organise a successful event.

Donations, Wills and Covenants
If you build up a list of supporters which includes people who have given you money in the past, your membership and others who may be interested in supporting you, you can ask them to give you a donation.

If you can’t make personal contact, then write. If you are writing to lots of supporters then you will have to send out a standard letter. Your chairperson, a celebrity, the mayor or a well-known businessperson might sign it for you. The letter should tell people why it is important to give and what size of donation you are looking for. Give examples of equipment you can buy or services you can provide for, say, a week with an indication of the cost. By showing potential donors that specific results will be achieved, you may persuade them to give more than they might otherwise have done.

You might like to invite potential funders to a meeting or presentation. The more personal you can make the approach, the more likely they are to give.

This is arranged through a "deed of covenant". The donor agrees to support you over a period of several years. This agreement has to be made in writing using the correct form of words. The donor pays tax at the basic rate. Your organisation reclaims the tax using the necessary procedure.

Funding Agencies
These are organisations set up privately or by governments to distribute money for charitable purposes. Usually, income from the investment of a capital sum is distributed in the form of grants. Also known as grant-making trusts, many have particular areas of interest - for example, women’s projects, children, disability, arts, education, social welfare and aid and development programmes. Many libraries have directories or lists of these agencies.

There are always large numbers of applications to these agencies and limited funds, so many good proposals, even if they meet all the criteria, still have to be refused. Contact them first to ask how they want applications to be made. Some have application forms; some like an introductory letter and some just ask for a proposal.

Further information about funding proposals is given in FUNDING APPLICATIONS.

Why A Self-Help Group Appeals to Funders

Many organisations of disabled people form income-generation projects that not only support the organisation but give increased training and employment opportunities to disabled people. Over and above this, some organisations are now selling their expertise. They realise that, over the years, disabled people have acquired knowledge and experience that other people want. For some time, we have been giving that knowledge away for nothing, but now some organisations are selling their time and work as professionals. Other professionals charge for their advice - why shouldn’t we?

Some Examples

continue...Effective Fund-Raising

Contents Fund-Raising