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Local/community fundraising

How to raise money in your community.

A local or community approach to fundraising is by definition very specific and targeted. It involves building a relationship between your organisation and the people who give you money and support your aims and activities.

Top tips for community fundraising

  • Know your message: can you explain who you are, what you are all about and why someone should support you in 15 seconds? Perfect your 'Elevator Pitch'
  • Develop a fundraising plan to work out what activities you can run and how you will manage them.
  • How you implement the plan and what you do afterwards are vital for future success.
  • Remember FUNdraising is FUN! 

Getting buy-in from your community and developing a network

You, your volunteers and supporters should always be selling your organisation within your community. It is critical that you can tell people what you do and by doing this pursuade them to support you. Tell them:

1. Who you are

  • Do people know you exist?
  • What relationships have you developed within the community?

2. What you do

  • Have you clearly identified your target market of supporters and donors?
  • Are the aims of your organisation clearly defined? How well have you communicated these?

3. Who benefits

  • Why is the need important? What is the urgency?
  • What exactly do you need the funds for?
  • Why support you, rather than another organisation?
  • Have you a compelling, emotional, message, for example, Barnardo’s  “Believe in Children” can you not?

Remember: Who What Why or for simplicity WWW.

By connecting well with your community, you give them a sense of ownership and help them to feel more involved. They are more likely to act as ambassadors for your organisation.

Your community

Think about your community in broad terms. It could include:

  • individuals: how are you targeting them, communicating with them?
  • companies: approach companies for sponsorship as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives.
  • government/grant making bodies: what are you entitled to?
  • other organisations: who complement your work. 

It is essential that once you have formed relationships, you must work hard to retaining them. How well you know and communicate with them will determine how sustainable your revenue stream will be.

Your fundraising plan

Several key elements are critical for success.


You cannot plan activity until you know what resource you have and how you are going to staff it.

An old adage in the world of commercial organisations is that “People are our number one asset”. This is often espoused but infrequently delivered. As nonprofit is based almost entirely upon the GOODWILL of its volunteers and supporters,you must have a clear plan to:

Recruit: who are these volunteers? Have they worked in non profit organisations before? How much time can they commit to?

Develop: how do you motivate them - put the FUN back into fundraising. Train them in key areas. Optimise their skill set.

Retain: how do you ensure against 'burn out'? Vary activities, reward and praise.

Replace: by definition, volunteering can be transitional, how are you planning and identifying replacements?

Choosing fundraising activities

There is a multitude of potential fundraising ideas on the how2fundraise website with an A-Z of Ideas available.

Key points to remember with fundraising activities

  1. Have you run these activities before? Have they worked before? It is safer and normally more effective to improve and expand on an existing method rather than developing new ones which are not tried and tested. However, if you are reliant on only one method, then add another in case your main method hits a downturn.
  2. How suitable are your activities? For example, a faith organisation may not want to run lotteries as gambling is against its principles.
  3. Manage and predict your budget. This is crucial and has to be realistic based on previous activities. If it is the first time you have run something like this, then ask other organisations for their figures and reduce the figure by 30-40 per cent. You will need to think about:
  • What is your total projected income?
  • What is your total cost?
  • What is your net contribution (that is, the money that you have available to carry out the aims and goals of the organisation ) or why are you fundraising in the first place?

4. Work with your community to develop a plan of activities which appeal to them! It's all very well coming up with a great plan, but if it doesn't work for your community, it doesn't work.

How many fundraising events/size of fundraising events?

Numerous small events are labour intensive but can turn around money quickly. Examples include:

  • lotteries and raffles
  • fairs, street parties and bazaars
  • collections: street, in churches/shops, house-to-house, work
  • sponsored events (swims, walks, pub crawls, etc)

Large events are complex to organise and plan but can generate significant money. Examples include:


  • Tell people about what you are doing: get local press involved, include community leaders, pay for advertising.
  • Use your website if you have one: people use the web to check information and pass on information.

Celebrity fundraising

If it is possible to engage a celebrity living in the community to endorse the organisation and its aims and be its patron there are numerous benefits to this:

  • awareness: good for advertising and communicating
  • adds credibility: that a celebrity wants to add their name
  • involvement: may lead to a greater participation in key events...'turn out'.

Implementing your fundraising activities

Operationalising your fundraising activities is similar to running anything else. Make sure:

  • someone is in charge
  • that they know the budget and the limits of their authority
  • that they have a timetable of what needs to be done by when
  • that they have a team of volunteers helping them
  • that they know to whom to turn if they have unresolved problems or need to check something out or just need support
  • in particular that they have the name and telephone number of the person who ran the activity last time
  • that they and their team are always thinking of what the people who are likely to give are wanting from the activity – they have to be donor focussed.

TOP TIP – spend half of your planning and implementation time on how to ensure that you will have enough people (potential donors) coming to/being involved in the activity. The most common mistake is to put on a really well run fundraising activity with insufficient punters.

After your fundraising activities

  • Thank everyone - donors and volunteers.
  • Keep information on the activities – especially the names, addresses and if appropriate email addresses of all people who came/were involved/donated.
  • When the dust has settled, review how the activity went. What went well, what not so well, what would you do differently next time?

Remember the PARETO principle:

  • 20 per cent of your customer/donor base will generate 80 per cent of your revenue and vice versa
  • 80 per cent of the work will be done by 20 per cent of your volunteers
  • you cannot afford to lose any of those 20 per cent!

Give enormous recognition and thanks to the key leader of the activity. After the activity they will be completely exhausted and will be swearing that they will never do it again. But, if they do it will be twice as effective because they will know so much and have learned so much. So do everything you can to keep them on board!

Page last edited Dec 13, 2016
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