Telling your fundraising story

22 June 2021

Before you rush to ask for donations, it is important to take the time to really think through your church’s project.

Miniature person on a work desk with a pencil, paper and laptop
To inspire people to give to your cause, you should be able to succinctly explain the need for your project, what your solution will be, and the benefits it will bring – or put simply your story.
Telling your story should inspire potential donors to support your cause. To help make your church’s stand out, it is important to demonstrate the need of your project. 

What is the need your church is addressing?

Are loneliness and isolation increasing? Has there been an increase in antisocial behaviour? Is your building at imminent risk of disrepair? Could this have a detrimental effect on the local community? Demonstrating the need for your project is vital. It the answer to why potential funders should care about your cause.
Data and statistics can highlight the need for your project and why you are trying to achieve your vision. Your denominational body can often help provide information on statistics, as well as looking at local or national government websites. 

Community consultations

Undertaking a community consultation can be another great way to demonstrate the need of your project. Some major UK funders, like the National Lottery, require evidence of consultation in the form of supporting documents to your application; but even smaller funders that don’t require this level of evidence, will want to see that you have consulted with a variety of people.
By consulting your community, you will be able to demonstrate to funders the local need you are meeting; how you will directly benefit the community; that your project is desired locally and has the backing of local people.

How to successfully consult your community

Talking to your community will help to build consensus, create cohesion, and avoid negative responses to your project. Ensure you talk to volunteers, beneficiaries and your church team to gain their views. 
Present your consultation period with people as ‘good news’, an opportunity to be involved in creating something good for the neighbourhood. Different ways to consult with people can include:
  • ‘Round-table’ in person discussion meetings 
  • Online surveys (best known is probably SurveyMonkey)
  • Social media polls and questionnaires using platforms like Facebook and Twitter
  • Questionnaires sent in the post, delivered around the houses in your neighbourhood, or placed in key community spaces like libraries, shops, schools. It’s important to think about how people will return these; you will need a reply-paid envelope or drop off points such as a local corner shop or a secure box next to your building
Make sure participants are aware that you are following GDPR rules by providing a tick-box for respondents to give their consent to data collection.  
The main questions you ask should help you understand:
  • What your local needs are in the community
  • How your projects can serve people better
  • Why might people want to be involved with your project – for example, would they want to volunteer in running activities? Or just participate as beneficiaries?
  • If your community will want to get involved in fundraising
  • What role your church plays for local people and how that might change as a result of the project
  • Make sure you also ask people their gender, age and ethnicity as an optional question (so you know how representative the answers you have are of the community you live in).
Consulting your community is not always easy. It can be hard to get people to respond and sometimes the things they have to say are not what you wanted to hear! Consultation, however is invaluable in helping you to build meaningful relationships and ensure that your church, and its projects, stay relevant to the needs of local people.
PC screen showing church fundraising