Friday Reading Round Up
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5 things to do when you can't afford a fundraising agency

There have been a slew of great articles (see Alison, Derek and Gill for starters) about working with fundraising agencies recently, but what happens if you can't afford a full-service agency?

Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Look at your weakest areas and then use any budget you do have to buy specific project by project help.  There are some great freelancers out there working across all aspects of fundraising, design and strategy and you can learn from them and build capacity until you can do it yourself.
  2. If your manager or board are sceptical about the value of outside help then conduct a simple test.  For example, I believe copywriting is an area that my organisation is weak at, so I am currently testing some freelance help to see if it is cost effective to use an outside professional.

  3. Study hard.  If you can't afford to buy in help then try and learn as much as you can about the theory and practice of the area of fundraising you need assistance with.  The web is a great source of information, there are lots of free seminars and workshops and if you get really stuck then try e-mailing/tweeting someone you respect and asking for their advice (don't push it though as they won't have huge amounts of time to spare) but you might be surprised how far you get.
  4. Following on from this, keep an eye on the techniques and activities of other charities.  Learn from what they are doing and try and copy and adapt it to suit your organisation.  SOFII is a fantastic resource for inspiration.  Look at some of the most successful exhibits and see if you could make them work for your charity.
  5. Recruit volunteers with the specific skills you need. I've had a couple of great volunteers from the Media Trust in recent times, who've offered help to put together articles, style guides, conduct interviews and other work where we lack skills.  It would have cost hundreds (or thousands) of pounds to buy in this help, but we received it for free.  A word of warning - be wary of volunteers who offer to help in an area where they don't have clear, transferable, professional skills, as this can lead to frustration and annoyance on both sides.