Fundraising is a funny old game. On one hand fundraising is simply a numbers game; as the Development and Fundraising Manager I know what our budget is for this year (and for next, and increasingly for the year after that too) and I know what my teams target is in terms of raising money. In simple terms, money going out of the organisation has to equal money in. In fundraising there is nothing like getting a win, partly because the amount of effort that goes into developing a bid and partly because inevitably you don’t win every time (if only we did!!).
We were recently awarded a really generous grant by the Leathersellers’ Company Charitable Fund, for our schools work in Birmingham; this is great for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is a multi-year grant, those are great because it means that we have confirmed income for our work in Birmingham for the next four years and it means that we can budget and plan with a degree more confidence. Secondly, it is great because the Leathersellers are fantastic funders; beyond the financial support that they give they really see their role as being a partner with their grantees. That is exciting because it is through those relationships that new opportunities arise – both programmatically, and also in terms of new funding opportunites. Thirdly, it is really positive because they are a new funder that have not funded us in the past. It is so important to the sustainability and growth of the organisation that we engage with and get the support of new funders.
As part of the process of winning the grant we had a visit from the Leathersellers. Yasmeen and Rich talked in detail about the work that we are developing in Birmingham. Even now knowing the outcome it felt at the time like a really positive meeting. As the Leathersellers team were leaving, their Grant Manager told us that they liked to live tweet the meetings where funding decisions were made; he said that they did this to create a buzz.
At the time I must admit that I was a little sceptical, surely this was just a gimmick? Scroll forward to earlier this week when we spotted the tweet announcing the grant and I must admit that I was wrong, it did create excitement, but more importantly it taught me a lesson.
At 3FF, part of the fundraising challenge is that what we do is seemingly abstract – we are not saving pandas or curing a disease. Making the case for our work, and for the limited funds that are out there, against more seemingly obvious issues can be a challenge. More than that, I think that sometimes it leads me to undervalue the work that I do, that 3FF does. However, seeing the tweets detailing all the other amazing charities and projects that the Leatherseller’s were supporting allowed me to see the work that we do alongside the work of other charities. In doing so, it reminded me that I work with an amazing group of people and that they do incredible work, day in, day out.
So yes, fundraising is a numbers game. But it is also more than that. It is a vote of confidence. It is recognition of the work that we are doing now, today. It is someone saying, “Yes, this is great, now do more”.
So, thank you Leathersellers, and Dulverton Trust (who recently extended their support for a second year), thank you John Lyons, and the Pears Foundation (for your amazing support), and the Maurice and Hilda Laing Charitable Trust and of course the Sigmund Sternberg Charitable Foundation for all your support, and thank you also all the individuals over the years who have put their hands in their pockets to give us whatever they can: we really appreciate your support! Thank you for recognising the skill and care of the team and also the importance of the work! We could not do it without you!