Collections can be an effective way of raising money. They can be cheap to run and can also help raise your profile within your area. Standing on your local high street means you can directly talk to people and let them know what you do.
How to run a collection
Other than the initial costs of buying tins/buckets for people to put their money in, there is little financial outlay. There is a big cost in time and people.
Think about the following to get the most out of your collection:
- law: follow the face-to-face fundraising code (Institute of Fundraising)
- location: where can you find lots of passing trade who are likely to give money? Think about your cause and where you can find people who are likely to be sympathetic to it.
- permission: get permission from the supermarket/station where you plan to stand
- timing: 9am on a Monday morning may not be the best time to stand outside a station. Think about when people will have time to engage with you.
- people: finding people to volunteer to rattle a tin in the rain can be a hard ask, agree how long they will be needed for and promise to buy them a cup of tea during/afterwards!
- getting donations: make it clear what you are raising money for. You could wear tabbards/t-shirts with your logo on, get a sign, wear costumes or do something to show people what you are about.
- information: if you have flyers or promotional items to give away (even stickers) people are more likely to remember you. Be prepared to answer questions about what your organisation will do with the money.
- the money: who is going to sort and bank all the coins?
Other types of collections
- House-to-house collections: knocking on doors asking for money.
- Paid for collections: paying people to rattle tins for you.
- Leaving collecting tins in shops/schools/churches where people are likely to donate spare change.
Successful collections: a case study
The Venturers Drama Group
The Venturers Drama Group of the Visually Impaired is a small, London-based charity. We provide amateur dramatic opportunities to blind and visually impaired people in the area. We are not specifically a group for visually impaired people, anyone can join us, but our constitution states that the majority of actors on stage in any play must be visually impaired. We have been performing plays for over 30 years.
Our fundraising attempts
We’re not a very big organisation so we don’t attract a lot of money through subscriptions and donations. We raise a little bit of money from entertainment evenings and an annual Christmas party. Putting on plays does not come cheap.
We’ve tried writing bids to some of the major funders in the area, but so far we’ve not been successful. There is so much competition for charitable money. No-one just wants to give money for group of blind people to put on a play.
They want us to have a political voice or be involved in long-term educational projects or work with young people - we don't do any of these things. Its difficult to raise money for what we want to do - provide acting opportunities for people with disabilities.
But we haven't given up and we continue to write funding bids in the hope that at some point we’ll hit the right note with one of these funding bodies.
In the last year we’ve stumbled across what seemed to us, like a goldmine. We’ve started holding collections at underground and over-ground railway stations in London. The response has been very good, especially when we’ve had some of our four legged friends with waggily tails to help us. Many of our members have guide dogs and we’ve found that they attract the public to us. However we make very sure that people know we are collecting for a drama group and not the Guide Dogs Association.
Despite our initial concerns, we soon found that setting ourselves up to do station collections is very inexpensive but does mean a lot of hard work by the members themselves. The main expenses are:
buying high visibility tabards
getting tabards printed with our logo
buying collection tins
getting labels and badges printed up with our logo.
We were lucky that our members mostly donated our supplies so we’ve had to pay for very little. One of our members is a whiz on the computer so he does most of the label printing! The hardest part of station collection is getting enough members to agree to come along on the day.
On average we raise £600 per collection, our figures have ranged from £350-£780 in the past. We find the bigger stations are better and that it pays to avoid places like South Kensington where all you get are students and tourists, most of whom don't look twice in your direction, or if they do, give you foreign coins!!!
These days a play costs about £5,000 to put on so we have to aim to do about ten collections to be able to do one play. Its worth it though as it means we can continue to do what we love.
The station collections have been a success for Venturers at a time when we are really struggling to raise money in any other way. We are enjoying doing the station collections and we will continue to write funding bids, but we’d really appreciate any other fundraising ideas that other organisations have found successful.