Funding and Financial Sustainability for Non-Profit Organisations in Ireland

I attended an event advertised on Facebook and organised by Bluefire Dublin called ‘Igniting Change: Funding & Financial Sustainability‘ on Thursday 29th June 2017.

The event was aimed at voluntary and community organisation, social-enterprises, individual artists or community-based project managers, and small-medium NGO’s.

financial sustainability

Bluefire organises ‘igniting change series’ every last Thursday of each month: http://bluefiredublin.ie/our-programmes/igniting-change/

financial sustainability
The guest speakers at the event were a mix of social entrepreneurs and funding bodies:

• Ian Oliver (far right on the picture) from Centre for Creative Practices
• Eoghan Ryan (far left in the picture) from Social Innovation Fund Ireland
• Hazel Hill (right next to Eoghan) from The Community Foundation for Ireland
• Naomi Murphy (left next to Ian) from Connect the Dots

The purpose was for attendees:

  • to be aware of what is required to start up a successful business and
  • to know how to get grants from organisations supporting social entrepreneurs.

It started with a talk from each speaker, followed by a workshop and a networking session.

1. Eoghan from Social Innovation Fund Ireland:

Before launching Social Innovation Fund, he founded his own not-for-profit, Reimagine Cork to tackle issues around homelessness in Cork. Understanding the needs for Not-for-Profits, he felt he could help entrepreneurs best and joined Social Innovation Fund.

The company’s mission is to provide both funding and non-financial support to social entrepreneurs. It has also partnered with the government and every given Euro by SIFI is matched by the government.

Eoghan’s first advice was to think about ‘why’ you want to start up a company and why his company would fund you. He also strongly recommends:

  • having a clear plan in place,
  • having a good value proposition,
  • showing confidence
  • having good management skills.

When filling forms to apply for funding, keep it simple and answer the asked questions.

2. Hazel Hill, Marketing Executive and Programme Leader at The Community Foundation for Ireland:

Her organisation offers both open grants and private grants. The latter ones are given on a project basis with an end date. The organisation offers funds for mergers (shared between teams) to highlight the importance of collaboration and partnership between organisations.

You will be asked about what will happen at the end of the project to gauge how sustainable your business model is.

Her first advice was to not manipulate your core mission value (reason for existing) to get funding. Instead, only apply to relevant grants that fit your organisation. She also advised to:

  • have a clear mission statement,
  • document your research by backing up your project with analytical reports,
  • listen to your community/audiences’ needs,
  • take any constructive feedback on board
  • understand the impact your company will have.

3. Naomi AND MERISSA from Connecting the Dots, a start-up focusing on the community engagement in Dublin: 

Their company started off when there were many unoccupied vacancies in Dublin during the crisis by putting on events with artists, engineers, researchers. Over the time, they worked on a process for events’ organisation, i.e on improving the engagement with attendees, corporate donors.

Naomi’s advice was to volunteer for different organisations and network that way before you start up. She has been helping a lot at ‘Happenings’ organisation.

It is also important to speed up processes with a technology enabler. They are currently working on a software service (SAAS) application (transferring processes online for co-working events), in order to gain time and increase income streams and viability.

4. Ian AND his wife Monica from Center for Creative Practices, a company helping creative artists to come up with a more sustainable model:

His first advice was to start with a small plan before building a full-scale model and revisit this plan when necessary.

Instead of going through a lengthy business plan, they worked on a one-page business model. It detailed their business model and value proposition:

  • the company’s purpose,
  • what problem it is trying to resolve and,
  • the solution offered.

His first business model focused on having a cash projection, i.e ticket prices’ sales and getting people to utilise the space to generate further money. He feels it is best not to be over-reliant on grants for the day-to-day running of the business.

5. participants needing help on setting up their organisations, PLEASE get in touch with the following bodies:

 

 

 

Artists and charities collaboration: fundraising by downloading a song

Here are few general tips to follow to successfully fundraise through music. But remember, there are always many options to choose from when it comes to fundraising.

1. Write a song for the cause. You can directly raise money to support fundraising by publishing the song as a single and selling downloads to your friends, at a local coffee shop — anywhere! Don’t forget to advertise the song along with what it is supporting. If people like the song, they will be intrigued and more likely to check out the cause.

For that, you need to ensure that the lyrics aren’t inappropriate since you will need to target different age groups. Indeed, donors aren’t necessarily the youngest crowd. So, keep in mind that individual incomes are strongly linked to donated amounts and more often than not, the oldest donors are the most generous. Consequently, do not rule them out.

The song lyrics should also be strongly related to the charity message so that the message doesn’t get lost. Besides, your song must be strongly related to the charity message, so that the message doesn’t get lost. The song must strike an emotion, to appeal to the audience.

2. If you are not part of a charity and want to fund-raise for one, try to select a popular charity. Generally speaking, those who look after health matters are more praised and attractive than others.

3. Spread the words. If you don’t want to sell a song, post a link to it for free! The more you send it around, and encourage others to pass it on, the more you can increase awareness drastically just by getting people interested in a cool tune. Include a description or link to the cause with the song so people are inspired to click, read, and support.

As you understood, it’s highly recommended to have an online presence, whether through social media, or website. Having an interactive fundraising page with videos, pictures and allowing online payments by credit/debit cards or PayPal, would be greatly beneficial for your campaign. You need to remember to offer payment convenience to your donors. So, if you are not online, at least think about street collections and leaflets distributions. You can either offer an online download or physical CD. But as mentioned above, a shareable online link can spread faster and further and become more viral than a street campaign.

4. Send newsletters including ways to support, as well as a link to a song pertaining to the cause. Even if it is not your song, you can still inspire people to help by capturing their attention through the song.

Here, make sure your customise your message to each individual to appeal to their needs and interests.  Also, did you know that the most-read part of a letter is the PS? That’s why you should never omit it, and why it should say whatever is the most important thing you have to say. If you opt for direct mail, get friendly with the Postal Service. Learn their strange ways. Speak their language. It can save you a lot of trouble and money.

5. Put on a show! Find a few local bands or solo acts willing to do a festival or a concert event and sell tickets to raise money. The artists get to show their skills and have the opportunity to increase their fan base while playing a fun show that benefits a cause.

Coming back to the point we previously mentioned about age groups, remember to organise a family-friendly event by making the right choice of band. For more visitors, choose something all age groups can listen to, such as soft rock or choirs.

6. Look for sponsors, if you can, as this will spread the message to the community a little quicker. If you have Public Relations contact, reach them out to request a press release. Engage with both donors and sponsors, if you want to make this event successful. Try to meet their expectations and they will be more likely to contribute more to your organisation!

7. Create a songwriting contest to compete in to target a young audience. Encourage people to write and submit a song for the cause. You can sell tickets to support the cause. There can be a prize for the winner and the added benefit is increasing awareness for the cause through the mere interest and buzz about the contest. For an older crowd, you may opt for raffle tickets sales or ask them to vote for their favourite song, too.

8. Thank everyone. When you thank a donor or a sponsor, you complete the circle. When you don’t, you’re like a mail-order company that doesn’t send what people pay for.

9. Communicate the results of the fund-raising effort and be transparent how the money is going to be invested. The public will not trust your charity/organisation unless you communicate in a transparent manner how their monies will be used.

10. Remember the overall objective: fundraising is about passion, relationship, connection — and love. To avoid disappointing anyone, make sure you keep track of your budget. This will increase the chances of success and give your organisation a sense of reliability, responsibility and reputation. After the event, make sure you keep in touch with your donors and try to get them to subscribe for a long-term continuous contribution (instead of one-off).

11. f you feel stuck with time and uncertain about how to do an online campaign, you may decide to associate yourself with a social media/web design agency specialised in this type of music fundraising campaign like this one:

http://www.thebigmusicproject.co.uk/category/careers-advice/industry-insights/

For more tips on event timing and other online/offline fundraising tactics, check these links:

http://www.npengage.com/online-fundraising/top-4-online-fundraising-tactics/

http://www.ehow.com/info_7924790_nonprofit-fundraising-strategies.html

Finally, here is a good example of a musical collaboration between a band and charity members singing together:

I hope this article will be helpful to you. Do you have other ideas you would like to share with us?