Raising funds and finance

There are a range of methods available to clubs and community organisations above and beyond the usual sources of support

Whilst most clubs and community organisations will often see all these methods as fundraising, some of them are better seen as raising finance.

The difference may seem like splitting hairs but it can probably best be summarised as:

  • Fundraising tends to mean raising smaller amounts of money over time, often for small projects, or to supplement annual income on a regular basis
  • Organisations can also secure more money for bigger (usually one-off) projects but need to think about how they finance such projects.

In general, fundraising is quicker but raises small amounts. It uses your existing network of users and supporters, who, rewards and use of your facilities aside, are supporting you because of who you are rather than what they get in return.

Fundraising is quicker but generally raises small amounts. Finance takes longer and involves some return to the finance providers

Finance takes longer and involves some return to the finance providers, which in turn requires you to demonstrate a more enterprising approach to your club's development.

It’s important to understand that fundraising and raising finance are rarely exclusive – many of these methods work together well, and indeed, undertaking one method can help you successfully utilise another.

For example, getting support via crowdfunding from your club’s users makes you more attractive to lenders or grant-makers because they take confidence that the club is being supported by the local community.

Secondly, different methods are more appropriate for some purposes than others, so it’s important to choose the right methods in terms of what you’re trying to raise money for and from whom.

What you need to know and why

Regardless of what method or methods you use, there are common features essential to every one of them that your organisation has to have a clear understanding of from the start.

What you need to know

Why you need to know it

  • How much do you need to raise?
  • Do you need a fixed amount, or is your target flexible?

The smaller the sum, the more fundraising or crowdfunding might get you what you need.

Projects which have phases or distinct elements that can be implemented separately can be broken down into smaller chunks. These might be able to be funded via different routes or sequentially in stages, so a large total can be made into more manageable smaller projects.

  • How soon do you need to have raised it?
  • What’s driving the timetable?

If you don’t have a timetable then you might drift and not be able to generate any sense of urgency, which in turn makes it harder to get people to support you.

  • What will you do with the money?

Will it develop your facilities and increase your capacity to deliver sport in your organisation? Or does it dig you out of a hole for less-than expected revenues?

  • Once you’ve spent the money, what difference will it make to your organisation in the future (or what happens if you don’t raise it)?

Being able to communicate what you’re trying to achieve and what the difference it makes is critical. If the money will increase your capacity to deliver activities, you might be looking at finance since you could show how the money helps you grow your income in future years.

  • Who will benefit from the changes the money will make to your club organisation? Just club members or the wider community?

Does the wider community benefit from what you’ll do if you succeed in raising the money? Or just those who are club users already?

People are less likely to support things they aren't able to see how it might benefit them and their community, so if you’re not clear about what impact you have, start thinking how you can tell the story of what difference you make to you area. This will broaden the number of people who will see your success as good for the area as a whole.

  • Who do you think will provide the money and why?

Are there enough funders, members, supporters in the community or investors with the motivations to support you and the ability to fund the amounts you need? Is there any evidence that this has been done before by your club, or clubs like you in communities like yours?

  • Who’s going to do the work at the club to make it happen?

Do you have enough volunteers to run all the events or fundraising drives you need? Will they get exhausted by the effort?

Do you have the right skills to deliver what’s needed at your end, which might be a business plan with detailed projections, through to having the marketing support to make your campaign fresh and standout?

Drive out wishful thinking

You desperately want your efforts to succeed, that your members and customers will support you, and the local community will see the benefit of what you’re asking them to help you create. While it is important to have bold aspirations, it’s equally important to keep grounded in the world as it is, not how you’d like it.

So, test those places where you make an assumption and check those assumptions have sound basis in evidence and experience. Make sure you're making as many pessimistic judgments about what could happen in the future as much as optimistic ones. It’s better to be pleasantly surprised that you’ve been more successful than you imagined than crushed by disappointment as people don’t get behind your club like you hoped.