I want to tell you a story!
Parish Fundraising Manager, Carol Ward highlights the importance of storytelling to show that your fundraising project matters and makes a difference to your church and community.
As a member of the youth team at my local church, once a month, I deliver the ‘children’s slot’ in the main service. On the second Sunday of January, it was my turn once again and I spoke about Epiphany, the journey of the Magi and their presents of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
A very well-known story. The challenge, as with most things ‘well-known’, is how to make this interesting and engaging? I started by asking how many of them still had their Christmas trees up? And then pretending to be surprised that they had all gone – I was told that they had all been sent to be flattened!
Interesting and engaging is also the challenge when sharing your fundraising story. Whether you need funding for a new or on-going project; for alterations, refurbishment or repairs to your church; or for a new building – the story you tell has to motivate. It must stand out so that others feel the urgency, passion, need – which, in turn, means they want to support and help you achieve your aim.
This is especially important if you are applying to a grant maker that will get many, many, applications arriving on their desks. Unless the information you send is eye-catching and inspirational (as well as meeting their funding criteria and guidelines), your application may never even reach the consideration stage having failed to make it past the gate-keeper!
When you are involved with a project and know it inside out, there is quite often an – maybe unrealised – assumption that the people you are sharing your story with have the same knowledge and understanding of what you want to do. Of course, everyone knows as well as you do why you are doing this work; why you need the money. You include some facts and figures for your area, how wonderful your church building is, share what you are going to do and how without providing the background history and the ‘why’ this is needed.
What this approach doesn’t have is the ‘human’ touch. It doesn’t include the ‘inspiration’ (the difference that what you will make to others) to help people buy into your vision. And even if your need is around re-ordering, refurbishment or repairs to the building – unless you can share the vision of why you need to do this and inspire others, (our roof is leaking – doesn’t quite cut it!) your FUNdraising will be far less fun and far more chore-like.
Andy Burns of Capital Mass encourages us to consider the Y Factor when approaching funders, supporters and volunteers to draw them into the vision and dream that we have for our community.
It’s the why-we’re-doing-this that drives the how-and-what-we’re-going-to-do.
By talking first about the situation that needs to be addressed (why we’re doing this) you are setting the scene for the funder and helping them to understand the bigger picture. Explaining the ‘how and what’ then offers them a solution to buy into and support.
And finally, my (longer than usual) top tip for this blog:
In the ‘top tip’ section of a previous blog – my very first in fact! – I mentioned signing up to receive different funding notifications.
Whether the information you receive is relevant will depend on what you need funding for and where you are based, but it is still one of the best ways to keep an eye on what is available. It can also be useful for monitoring the latest funding trends and maybe help inform the outreach projects in your parish.
A really good site to sign up to is The London Community Foundation which provides information about national funding streams such as the Youth Social Action Fund as well as much more localised funding in the different London boroughs. Their interactive funding map allows you to select your borough and see what funds are live and available.
Another interesting fund at present is for small grants in London to increase volunteering available from Team London Small Grants.
And finally, Church Urban Fund (CUF) have released the Common Good Fund to help fund projects not covered under their Near Neighbours scheme. This funding stream has a very short time span – applications must be made by 27 February 2017 at the latest. Once you have read through their funding guidelines to make sure you are eligible, contact their Link Officer for more information.
Carol Ward is the Parish Fundraising Manager for the London Diocesan Fund. See the pages Fund My Church for further information. You can also follow us on twitter @fundmychurch.