Raising money in addition to that funded by government is an ever present reality for aged care providers, particularly those operating in socio-economically disadvantaged neighbourhoods. Low bond related income and a higher percentage of assisted places mean community support is required to meet funding shortfalls.
The worst position an organisation can take is the ‘cap in hand’ approach. As we outline below, aged care is a community service – ownership over its success should be shared by the community. Working with different providers across the aged care sector we are constantly amazed by the creativity invested in campaigns by our clients. The best campaigns share hallmarks and core components which boost the chance of success. Any fundraising activity must be supported with ongoing, programmed, genuine community engagement activities to ensure a foundation of strong relationships and awareness. Fundraising should always be viewed as an extension of the company’s marketing, public relations and engagement activities and, as a result, should be linked via strategies and plans to other communication activities. Adopt these principles and actions and you’ll get results.
Telling a story.
If people do not know money is required, they will not give. Telling the full story and making it personal is central to an effective campaign. Use imagery, video and testimonials. It is important to articulate:
- Aged care is a community service, inferring that people have a responsibility to give.
- The funding constraints all aged care providers face.
- The impact extra moneys can make on older people, many of whom may be facing significant disadvantage.
- Everyone has grandparents, parents, and older mentors. After a life’s contribution, older people deserve an investment in their wellbeing.
- We do not suddenly change when we enter aged care. We all expect to enjoy the same activities and respect we have previously in our lives.
Consider the use of video diaries.
Invest in and resource communication to all stakeholders during and after the appeal. The fundraising team must remain focused on the ultimate goal which is not to raise money but change people’s lives for the better. This is a key reason why people will give – because they believe their money will make a positive impact.
Financial targets need to be set and shared. Donation meters should be hosted online and in all print communications. The clearer and more tangible the purpose for the money, the more likely people will feel comfortable giving:
- They can see the result
- They can feel ownership over the impact the investment is having
- They can be confident the money is being well spent
There is a joy in giving.
Whether $2 or a $10,000, the overwhelming majority of people give money to causes they believe in. There is a joy in giving. Key points:
- Asking for money to bring about positive change enables people to realise self-expressive benefits: to feel benevolent, proud, successful.
- The approach to donors should be that of ‘enabler’ not ‘beggar’. The messages conveyed are that donors can be change agents, catalysts for creating a better life for their older community members.
Setting expectations from day one.
Successful campaigns are not just about creativity and execution but the groundwork that has been done to create the right environment for giving. Upon entry families should be provided with information about the company’s giving program and have it explained to them that the program has resulted in outcomes that will directly benefit their family member.
A number of aged care groups run an annual telethon. The most effective use volunteers to make the calls to family members because they can speak from experience about the results that will be achieved.
Establishing a trust.
It has become increasingly common for larger community organisations to establish a trust into which older people and families can bequeath funds. The trust is administered by third parties such as The Trust Company with dividends allocated toward different capital and non-capital projects. Trust administrators apply financial management knowledge and expertise necessary to secure the long term success of the trust. Establishment of the trust is usually supported by a drive to raise a significant initial amount.
Legal, banking, health services and other contractors.
Ancillary service providers make significant amounts of money each year from the services they provide to the company and/or residents. Many also have an emotional connection to residents, caring for them over time. Providers of services to an aged care provider should be approached annually with the opportunity to give back.
A well known, well liked and influential patron will encourage other people to give. A patron must be willing to their name applied to fundraising campaign materials and take an active, if not intensive, role in events and communications.
Pareto’s rule applies: 20% of your donor base gives 80% of the money. Focusing on a smaller group of donors also saves time and resources. The strategy for high net worth individuals and community organisations is different and more intimate – often called a Major Gifts Strategy. Donors may not have a relative in care.
- Find people who will benefit from a strong reputation among communities connected to the facility – ethnic, social or local residential. For example, if there is a large Greek population in a home, wealthy Greek business people should be approached.
- If influential politicians or business leaders can be secured for a dinner, tables can be sold at a high value. The venue should be intimate and the invite list well chosen.
- Relationships need to be genuine and developed over time. Board members should take an active role.
- Do not be afraid to spend money on entertainment. This is common and, to a certain degree, expected.
- Consider the home of a patron as the setting for an intimate giving evening.
The more you know about donors, the better you will be able to tailor your approach to them and appeal specifically to their needs. People are becoming more used to providing information if it is to be used in ethical and beneficial ways:
- Online, via phone or via print, survey families stakeholders.
- Ask them what it is about aged care they feel most strongly about or what they would like to see changed.
The numbers game.
The 8o% who give a little are more important as advocates than contributors. The strategy is build a referrer network be efficiently managing the donation process. Managing a broad group of diverse requires a system to reduce the resource load on staff. The fundraising team needs to:
- Source donations electronically.
- Continuously add new people into the database (special event sign ups, names from board members, mail list purchase, contacts from meetings and conferences, etc.) which also means educating and systemising the contributions of other staff.
- Resource effectively and communicate creatively so every donor, no matter how small the gift, feels acknowledged.
The acquisition of non-cash (in-kind) gifts should be strategic and driven by the company, not the community. Few aged care organistions are as resourced as the Salvos to sort the rubbish from the saleable and useful! Determine what is needed and match the request to the database.
The offer of permanent recognition should be given to families that donate to a capital project: a new wing, office, piece of equipment. Options are printed names on:
- A facility, wing, vehicle or office with signage.
- Donor bricks: added to a wall over time.
- Community relations or aged care program
Read Part 2 here.
Do you have a fundraising success story? We’d love to hear it. Please comment below.
Ellis Jones developed community engagement strategies for the aged care sector.
Image credit: DollarDrip, Flickr Creative Commons