Innovative Councils are helping to build resilience, sustainability and impact in their local not-for-profit sector, even when budgets are tight. The current environment is particularly demanding for key funders.
Did you know New Zealand has 500,000 volunteers in sports and recreation alone? Imagine how many there are across every industry and sector. Volunteers are crucial in driving social, environmental and economic transformation through organisations like those in the Funding HQ family. We can all be inspired by the loyalty, generosity, and skills they offer without any expectation of pay.
Have a plan that recognises the value of volunteers
Every organisation that works with volunteers should have a volunteer management plan which recognises their contribution. Funding HQ coaches you through the essentials of setting up your plan – and for good reason. The value of volunteers is immense. We encourage you to think about volunteers as a type of fundraising income stream. After all, the donation of time can save you a lot of money and generate awareness, further support and positive reputation.
A volunteer management plan will help you steward your volunteers through every stage of the volunteer management cycle. This cycle has five key stages, and each is an opportunity to recognise and celebrate your volunteers’ importance.
- Identification: When your organisation looks at where volunteers could help, look at what skills they have and how they can help fill in the gaps you have.
- Recruitment: When you ask someone to volunteer, it’s an opportunity to show that you respect and know the worth of what they can bring.
- Induction: Welcoming your volunteers to the team and giving them what they need to enjoy and thrive in their role is essential.
- Management: Good communication gives volunteers a sense of community and allows them to stay connected with your organisation’s purpose.
- Retention: Every volunteer deserves to be appreciated and your stewardship programme can recognise their efforts in a whole range of ways.
Show your appreciation regularly
There are opportunities to acknowledge your volunteers at different points in your work and throughout the year. Project milestones, season kick-offs and Christmas might be good times to reach out.
When you show your appreciation, think about why your volunteers were first attracted to help you. If the social aspect is important, volunteers may welcome a casual get-together. Others may appreciate a personal note from your team, Board or those at the front line. Volunteers usually appreciate thoughtful gestures like these more than gifts.
However you choose to acknowledge and thank your volunteers, do it with sincerity. Volunteers are the hands and hearts in so many of our organisations. Let’s take every opportunity to celebrate the way volunteers enrich our lives and help our communities thrive.
We recently completed the second webinar in our series. This time we focussed on sharing inside tips for developing an effective funding relationship with your Council. Our Funding HQ in-house expert, Craig Ireson has over ten years’ experience in local government and has worked with councils of every size. He shared his best insider’s insights.
Funding HQ helps you develop your funding plan; and as part of this we help you look at different funding streams. One of those streams is local government: working in partnership with your council. Here’s a snapshot of insights from the webinar.
Get to know your council plan
The majority of council funding is allocated and distributed through the Annual Plan (yearly) or the Long-term Plan (three yearly) process. The timing of these cycles will vary depending on the council.
Every council has a set of guiding plans and documents which set out their priorities and direction: underneath these is the detailed layer of business unit plans, for example the events team, the marketing team, the community development team, the parks and recreation team. These teams outline how they’re going to implement the strategy. These plans will feed into and are fed into by community-driven documents such as community plans.
A good way to get to know your local council is by reading these plans and strategies to understand the priorities. If you get the chance to contribute to consultation and community planning make sure you do. It’s a great way to increase your visibility within council.
What type of council funding?
Most council funding comes through the long term and annual plan process. Other future-building initiatives will often have a 20 – 30 year development lens. At this level of funding you need to be looking well ahead and positioning yourself as an organisation who can help solve the problems the council will face in decades to come.
To secure this long term funding, you need to start small and build credibility through the funding process. By applying for and delivering on smaller funding asks with council you are developing your ‘credit rating’ and credibility as an aligned community partner.
Here are some of the alternate funding opportunities.
Contestable funding is usually administered on an annual or biannual basis. Councillors will sit on a committee which oversees this funding, and they will be thematically grouped according to council priorities or strategic focus. For example, Wellington City Council themes their contestable funding by the four well beings; social, cultural, economic, and environmental.
Every council in New Zealand also has Creative Communities funding. This is administered locally by the council on behalf of Creative NZ. The panel which makes the decisions for this fund is made up of community members and council representation. Each council is allocated an amount based on their population size. The funding will often have a youth and participation focus.
This funding will normally sit within an activity budget, and can be usually signed off at the officer level, without councillor involvement.
Examples of this type of funding are:
- Event funding or sponsorship
- Business improvement fund
- Innovation and sustainability fund
- Youth development fund
- Strengthening communities fund
This is an extremely valuable resource, and the support of your council in this way is often seen by other funders, especially central government, as carrying significant weight.
In-kind support can be represented by venue use, equipment, resources, people and volunteers, marketing support, or having the council sit alongside your organisation to offer guidance and support therefore building your capability.
In-kind support should be highly valued. For councils there is a transfer of costs somewhere in their budgets. So, although it’s not cash it should be recognised as a valuable and valued source of funding.
How to work with your council champion and find funding success
Like any funding partnership it’s important to build a relationship with your council, and work together to develop solutions which work for both your organisation and the council.
Make sure you have done your research and have a clear understanding of the council’s strategic priorities and what funding streams are available at your council.
Check that there is alignment between your organisation and the council. If there is, then think about how to demonstrate that your work will enhance their work, and will help them reach the community and deliver on their objectives.
You will need to be open-minded, flexible and innovative in how you are willing to work with your council to get the best out of their support.
Give yourself time to make sure you put the best plan forward, and make sure the council knows about your work, the impact it is having and your plans. Don’t let the first time the council hears about you be when your funding proposal crosses the table. By the time your proposal reaches the decision makers you should have workshopped it collaboratively with your champion within the council.
Tips to remember
- Not all councils are the same – get to know how your local council operates
- There is a huge amount of funding and support available from a council, In-kind support has a cost to the council – value it
- Find an internal council champion – work with them to collectively to steward your project through the process
- Take care of council like you would any other funder or sponsor- don’t take their support for granted
- Allow time, and lots of it to build a relationship with your council
- Start small; build up your credibility by showing you can deliver Know the timing of funding round opportunities for your council – Getting in at the right time is a big part of whether your approach will be successful or not.
With these points in mind long-term planning season is just around the corner so now is the perfect time to start engaging with your local council and finding your champion.
Funding HQ has many more ideas, and advice for approaching councils for funding, and to help you build a successful case for investment. Find out how Funding HQ can help your organisation here.
Funding HQ I was born from a desire to help not-for-profit and community organisations to be financially stable so that our communities can thrive. When I’m talking to organisations about Funding HQ, I can see how passionate they are about their communities and how innovative they are with the projects and activities.
Five months on from our launch, the feedback and work we’re doing with Funding HQ clients confirms my instinct; Funding HQ’s innovation has the potential to really change the way people seek funds and the way funders will distribute funds in New Zealand.
Collaborate to innovate
We’re an innovative bunch us Kiwis. Communities throughout the country are demonstrating this with their innovative programmes and platforms for change. One driver of our innovation is our ability to collaborate and to partner with other community groups and funders; it can be the cornerstone for success for many fundraising projects.
Often organisations are so focused on their own outcomes they forget that an easy win might be right in front of them with another organisation, corporate or individual. It’s heartening when you see community organisations come together to provide better outcomes for the wider community.
We worked with Taranaki Regional Council to help with funding for the new Yarrow Stadium. Whilst it will be a sporting facility for high performance athletes, it will also cater for a broad range of sports disciplines, schools, and grass roots sport clubs, as well as a wide range of community events and activities. What a great win for all the community!
Trust builds innovation
Trust also plays a big part when it comes to collaboration and innovation. It’s one of the core values that Funding HQ is built on.
Kiwis have a reputation for trust. Our innovative care-centred approach in our management of Covid is a great demonstration of innovation, trust and collaboration. At a community level trust is key to building a relationship with your funders and your collaborative partners. When we have this key component magic starts to happen and we see projects come to life. Funding HQ steps you through how to build trust with your funders through relationship building, community engagement and authentic collaboration with your partners. Check out this case study to see a triple collaborative win when two charities shared one sponsor.
Funding HQ has many more ideas and gives you frameworks to help you succeed. Find out if it’s a fit for your organisation here.
It’s essential to be open and flexible in your approach when working with a large donor or philanthropist, especially around what motivates them to give. You may be surprised. Being open and attentive in early meetings will help you to respond to a donor’s needs. It can even uncover exciting new benefits.
Jenni Giblin recalls working with the owner of a business who had given a lot to local projects over the years. She believed the owner was ready to leave a lasting legacy by donating a significant amount to help build a new sports complex. In a series of meetings over several years, a strong relationship was built. This benefactor became ready to commit the funding to help build the facility.
The donor accepted traditional benefits like branding and naming rights, but he also explained that he was looking for something future. What he really wanted was to use the process to help educate his family about the power of philanthropy and sponsorship. This insight enabled Giblin Group to tailor the process to help.
His children were brought into the conversations and took over much of the negotiations towards the end. New skills and connections were established that will extend beyond even this great project. If we had not listened, we may have missed a vital clue; this was about more than just a logo to this benefactor. Now, the relationship is stronger than ever.
When you’re deeply involved in making a positive impact, it can sometimes be hard to explain it with a few concise messages. Where should you start? We’ve put together five questions to help you think about your impact so you can talk about it with funders.
What are the monetary benefits?
Not-for-profits and community groups are exceptional at creating non-monetary benefit. But, they can create monetary benefits as well. Consider how your work might reduce societal costs like in healthcare, or waste management. Also, many community groups indirectly lift the economic potential of their target community. Impact like this all adds up.
What are the non-monetary benefits?
When you think about the non-monetary benefits, don’t stay too narrow. Explore where you can make an impact beyond the main community you’re focused on. Perhaps others in your region could benefit from what you’re doing. Maybe the whole country could! As an example, facilities in a community can often become a hub for all kinds of interest groups to build broad social connectedness and wellbeing.
How can you show there’s community support for the impact you’re working towards?
Not-for-profit and community groups work best when they focus on doing something ‘in’ and ‘with’ the community; not ‘to’ it. Potential funders will also want to know the community is behind an organisation they’re looking to support. Funding HQ has thorough guidance on demonstrating community support to win funding. The platform also includes insights about working with people of influence.
Who are the ‘faces’ of your impact?
Any good story is brought to life by its characters. The same goes for talking about your impact. When we can empathise with real people, it’s easier for us to understand and engage with something. So, look for those in your community who can talk about how your work has affected them. Their stories are a great way to unlock people’s compassion and support. Check out our blog on finding and telling stories for fundraising here.
How will you measure your impact?
You need to be clear about how you’ll monitor the success and progress of your work. This helps you plot the journey towards your organisation’s goals. It also shows potential funders what positive and sustainable change you’re delivering.
Funding HQ has comprehensive guidance on measuring and reporting on impact. Also, the Funding HQ Template Pack has a Reporting Template which is a useful place to start with preparing reports to your funders.
Reach your funding potential
In conclusion, when you talk to funders, don’t get so focused on the ‘what’ that you forget the ‘why’. Keep your goals and outcomes top of mind. It helps to be ready to explain what funding means for your organisation’s impact on the lives of those in your community.
Funding HQ has many more ideas and gives you frameworks to help you succeed. Find out if it’s a fit for your organisation here.
When you’ve had a long-term sponsorship, any changes have the potential for headaches and heartache. But, if you’re prepared to step up, innovate and collaborate, there are wins to be had.
In 2011 AMI Insurance had a long-term charity partner in the Malaghan Medical Institute. When AMI began sponsoring Wellington Round the Bays Fun Run, The Institute saw an opportunity. They noticed the event organiser is a fellow not-for-profit, Sport Wellington.
Together, the three organisations set themselves up as equal major partners of the event. Co-operative planning saw them pool ideas and resources for shared activation. They developed messaging to meet the vision of all three, Run For Research.
The partners all gained more value by collaborating. For example, as the event began to sell out, Sport Wellington let Malaghan take the final 200 tickets. The Institute was then able to sell these ‘last chance’ tickets to their database at premium prices. They created packages with special after-run extras like foot massages and a BBQ. So, those who bought the tickets got great value too!
All the partners came out as winners through this collaboration. The Malaghan Research Institute was able to raise a lot of money and increase its membership database. Sport Wellington had amazing activations at their event for no extra cost. Finally, AMI Insurance was able to give effective support to two charity partners at once. This created synergies for both causes and reduced the time the sponsor spent in managing its two sponsorships.
Source: Sport New Zealand Sport and Recreation Awards 2013 – Commercial Partnerships Excellence Award
Writing a compelling case for funding support and investment can feel like an overwhelming exercise. This is made even harder for community organisations that have competing priorities, limited resources and time constraints. It’s one of the key reasons I developed Funding HQ. Working with local community organisations and not-for-profits over the years, it became clear that many organisations didn’t know where to go for funding or how to ask. This has become more of a problem in the last few months as some funding streams have dried up and funders are requiring more detail and better relationships with organisations.
However when you get your case for funding right it will provide a key stepping stone in building your relationship with a donor, helping them to capture the spirit of your campaign or project, and demonstrating how their contribution will help grow a vibrant community.
Start with ‘Why’
As you begin to write your case for investment, keep your goals and impact front of mind. Think about what investment will mean for your organisation and especially for the lives of those in your community. Explain why it is important to solve the problem now. A sense of urgency is vital, but you must also allow the community an opportunity to get involved and help shape the project. Show that you’re working ‘with’ your community, not ‘on’ them.
Developing a case for investment will help you identify a wider spectrum of funders who may be interested in supporting your organisation. The charging environment means you might have to look at a number of different or alternative funding opportunities. You may not immediately see a need for your organisation to have all of the streams of funding, but building an understanding of how they all work together is valuable.
When you are considering funding sources, look for alignment between your goals and that of the funding organisation. Funding HQ can really help you demonstrate how your organisation aligns with a funder’s priorities and requirements.
Building your case
One of the key watch-outs when building your case is to check that you meet the funder’s criteria. Understanding what a funder wants to hear is more important than everything you might want to say.
Make sure you are:
Don’t forget to show that your organisation is well-managed, well-governed and has the ability to achieve the desired outcomes.
Be sure to identify what other community support you have. Even the smallest of contributions can have a strategic influence and signal to larger funders that your project has community support.
When you’re demonstrating the outcome make sure you highlight what it will mean for the funder and how their contribution will impact the community. If you have any impact stories, share these with your funders as a clear demonstration of what you can achieve.
If you need help building your compelling case, Funding HQ has many more ideas and gives you frameworks to help you succeed. Find out if it’s a fit for your organisation here.
We’ve faced a lot of changes this year, and some of them have been pretty tough. Resilience has become one of the most important qualities we can nurture. At Funding HQ, we know that careful planning, community focus and holding your values close can lift your ability to face challenges. Below are some of the things we have learnt about building resilience in our sector.
Planning ahead helps build resilience
If we’ve learnt one thing in 2020, it’s to expect the unexpected!
Having a plan in place means that when things are going well, you can spend less time worrying about ‘what if’. When something challenging does come up, a sound plan can make it easier to take things in your stride.
Funding HQ, helps you make a plan to diversify your income streams to reduce your level of reliance on any single source, and thus your risk. Of course, there’s more to building a resilient project plan than finding funding.
Funding HQ’s modules cover areas such as sponsorship and philanthropic partnerships, and local government funding. The modules offer tools to nurture sustainable relationships and help you handle the unexpected.
Community connections support resilience
Community connections have a pivotal role to play in resilience because they’re a source of social belonging. That’s so important in these times of social distancing!
If your work focuses on meeting a community need, then you play a unique role in building community resilience. Enjoy the relationships you’re able to create. These networks give you access to new ideas, skills, connections and opportunities.
Clear purpose builds resilience
Values orient and anchor us. So, it’s vital to connect with the values behind your project to embed resilience. When your work has a clear sense of purpose, and it fits with what matters to those involved, you’ll find it easier to bring people together to deal with the tough stuff. Clarity on values is like a compass that helps you find your way in storms of change.
You’ll find plenty of ideas on this throughout the Funding HQ coaching content to bring your values and purpose to life. This blog also has ideas about supporting your team’s motivation.
Keep moving forward
If you’d like to work on raising and diversifying your funding streams, Funding HQ has everything you need. However, your personal passion and energy is important too. If you’ve found this year tough on your mental wellbeing, don’t hesitate to reach out to someone who can help. It’s not an indulgence; it’s essential. The Mental Health Foundation has some useful resources.
If you find the right fit corporate sponsorship can offer win-win opportunities for not-for-profits and businesses alike. Here, we share our insights on identifying the right sponsorship partner for your organisation or project.
Look for an alignment of values
When you set about choosing a sponsor start by looking for businesses who share your understanding of what really matters. This alignment is essential.
One of the reasons many commercial organisations consider sponsorship is to leverage the clear values of a not-for-profit. When there’s an insincere match, both parties lose. For instance, if you’re working for environmental protection, an irresponsible corporate sponsor may undo all your hard work – and discourage your other supporters.
Some corporates take on generous sponsorships to mitigate the harm they create. In this case, you’ll want to be sure their values are real and not superficial. You can look at a company’s website to see how they like to be perceived. However, the way organisation lives its values says much more. Keep your ear to the ground and check out reviews or social media comments too.
Think beyond the big brands
Well-known corporates get the most requests for sponsorships. They often have sophisticated programmes or strategies with little flexibility. On the other hand, smaller organisations may have more agility, enthusiasm and connection with local initiatives. Look for business leaders in your community who share a passion for your cause. Right now, supporting local is one way that businesses can show their care and gratitude to their communities. So, don’t overlook the potential beyond big brands.
Don’t forget the competition.
If you’re considering a new sponsor, make sure you don’t alienate those you already have by courting the competition. It’s always worth checking with current sponsors before you invite another brand on board. Although the final decision is yours, it’s useful to know where your partners stand.
In fact, your existing sponsors may have ideas for prospects too! There may be an organisation they’d like to build a working relationship. They may be able to bring intros or intel.
We know of one organisation who talked about their need for more sponsorship with an existing partner, only to have the partner offer more funds for additional branding!
Complementary audiences have a benefit for everyone.
If you can identify a sponsor who has a similar audience or target market to your own, then there’s great potential. Exposure to your respective followers may grow your fan base with just the right kind of contacts.
When your audience and your sponsor’s audiences align, it’s easier to find benefits that give real value to each of your communities. You’re also likely to find your sponsor is more actively engaged, which is what makes any sponsorship really thrive.
Cash is not the only thing of value.
Yes, cash is king. But there’s more to success than that. In the current environment, innovative and collaborative solutions are vital. In-kind support can help ensure your success and create strong new relationships. For instance, technology resources or expertise could give you the edge in adapting to the Covid-19 environment. Access to office space could remove massive stress from your budget.
Funding HQ has plenty of other ideas about how to find and nurture sustainable corporate sponsorships. Our sponsorship module has detailed guidance to help you:
- follow key principles of success
- develop your sponsorship offering
- find the right business
- approach your prospective sponsor
- build a compelling proposal
- make the ask
- activate the sponsorship
- look after your sponsor.