Helping small charities to raise funds

Leaders Together is a project designed to help small charities and social enterprises in London to become more sustainable by matching them with mentors and also giving them free training courses at the TimeBank offices.

A month after our first session about fundraising we returned, with a few new guests, to sit back down and learn about approaching local businesses.

There are many different fundraising methods out there, but talking to people in the community seems the hardest to do. Donations from individuals ok - but what about that local business that just opened around the corner or the coffee shop where you’ve bought your pastries for years?

It is scary and it can go wrong - but it can also go very right and you have not only created a possible income for your organisation, but made your community involvement greater by increasing your supporter base.

To do it right, we tried to draw up some kind of step by step explanation to put five hours of role playing and brainstorming into perspective:  

Step 1: Research your target business

Find out everything about them. You need to know if they have ever supported a charity, and have the time, the capacity and the money for it. Secondly, you need to find out who the decision makers are. That might be one person, a group of employees or stakeholders. Whoever it is, that's who you need to sweep off their feet.

Step 2: Ask the right questions

You did your research, so now you know everything there is to know about the company. You're ready to ask the right questions - informed questions that show you have done your research and that you are serious about working with them.

Step 3: What is in it for me- WITFM

As much as you need to know what you can gain from partnering up, you need to know AND tell them what benefits they will gain. Whether it is volunteers you are after or money, you can tell them that if they work with you, they can polish their image, give back to the community, develop employee skills or help with employee retention.

Step 4: Protect your image

Your research should have shown you if the company you are trying to approach has a bad reputation. You don’t want your own image to get hurt. If you find out that the company you are approaching is obviously not interested (mind body language) while you are having the meeting - leave graciously. Thank them for their time and make sure they remember you as that ‘nice person with great ideas’ even if they couldn’t help.

Step 5: Closing the deal

Imagine everything went alright; you like them, they like you and you are about to leave the room. Make sure you have the next meeting already scheduled, ask them how long it will take for them to make a decision and what you need to do in the meantime. Exchange all possible names, mails and telephone numbers to stay in contact and thank them for their time.

If you need help making your charity sustainable or know a social enterprise that could benefit from Leaders Together, do give us a ring or drop me an email at The fundraising training session will now be accompanied with a monthly coffee morning at the TimeBank London office, open for all questions on fundraising, including bid writing and reporting. The sessions are available to all Leaders Together participants.