On 21-22 June, 14 participants from 11 countries gathered for a skill-sharing session on Fundraising at our premises in Brussels.
The session starts with some hot questions: do we need to raise funds? Is that the mission of a Food Bank? Probably not the first mission, but we need some money to pay the rent of warehouses, salaries, energy bills, etc. However, we need to pay attention on how and with whom we do it - in compliance with the Charter - and there are definitely do's and don'ts about it.
Fundraising should begin with some strategic considerations: what are the needs of our Food Bank in Euro? Which (limited number) of corporates will we approach? Unless we want to raise funds from the public at large? How much resource is needed in headcount, capabilities, available time, funds? What do our competitors do? Which are the risks we are ready to run?
General Mills and Fondation Carrefour, some of our main supporters, explained us how and why they want to help Food Banks... because Food Banks can help reaching Social Responsibility Goals, reducing food waste, providing their employees an opportunity to help a good cause, supporting their image towards the public. So, instead of presenting our projects upfront to a potential donor, we should first listen to him to understand which of these needs we might be able to satisfy. Think it over, come back to them again and again: success needs time.
Fundraising from the large public requires help from outside, like Direct Social Communications who explained how they manage to transform one-shot donations for the Belgian Food Banks Federation into a regular and predictible flow of money thanks to an adapted communication and a constant data management.
Participants of the session also shared successes and failures in fundraising: here is where the magic of skill sharing operates: ideas emerge, possible collaborations appear, traps can be avoided.
A few lessons learnt (see picture):
No improvisation: be professional, transparent, manage the relationship...
No quick wins: it may take two years from sowing a seed to harvesting a contract.
No illusions: exercise, persistence, resilience, and above all courage!