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What is it?

Fundraising for donations can include a wide range of activities. Donations are unrestricted funds that are given voluntarily by an individual or organisation to support your cause. Fundraising could include anything from standing in the street with a bucket, to running a sponsored event or a global social media campaign.

As technology has made it easier for even the smallest organisations to communicate with potential donors, voluntary organisations are finding more and more inventive ways to fundraise.

Donations are usually in cash, but many charities rely on in-kind donations, such as equipment, premises or advice. These should be part of your fundraising plan.

Why do it?

Donated income is ‘unrestricted’, which means that you can choose how you use it, as long as you are meeting your charitable objectives and fulfilling any promises you’ve made to donors.

Unlike grants or contracts, a donor will not require you to sign up to a specific project plan or set of conditions for funding.

Some organisations find it easier to attract donations than others. For example, if you work with children or animals, or your organisation supports people with conditions that many people can relate to (such as cancer) you may find it easy to attract donors, as people like to give to a cause that they have a personal connection with.

Unfortunately, less ‘popular’ or more contentious causes, such as supporting refugees or people with alcohol and drug issues, can be harder to fundraise for. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it, but you’ll need to have a very targeted plan for recruiting donors.

When are donations useful?

Donated income can be very useful to support your core costs, help you get started or let you try something new. It can also be useful for a one-off project (such as a new building) as it can be easier to fundraise for a specific, tangible objective. However, recruiting and keeping donors can be very time-consuming, and it’s not always easy to predict donor income.

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