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Supporting Scotland's vibrant voluntary sector

Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations is the membership organisation for Scotland's charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises. Charity registered in Scotland SC003558. Registered office Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh EH3 6BB.

Individual and Community Giving

Individual and community giving can provide a significant income source that organisations can use to support core and running costs. Though often overlooked as an income source by small organisations because people have difficulty in directly asking for support, there are a number of ways people can give.

1. Donations

First rule is - make sure they're tax-effective.

Gift Aid adds additional 'free' money from the government at no extra cost to the donor

Payroll Giving allows employees to have charitable donations deducted from their salary before tax, so the charity gets more, and it costs the donor less

Individuals can also gift shares, securities, property and other assets. See HMRC for more details on any tax implications.

2. Membership or Friendship Schemes

These can provide unrestricted and ongoing income, help develop wider support, and create opportunities for further fundraising. You need to check your constitution allows for this, and it won’t always be tax effective as there are restrictions on the level of benefit that can be received by the member. But whilst they may not generate a lot of income these schemes can enhance your credibility and campaigning ability.

3. Direct mail and Telephone Appeals

Popular and traditional techniques that can also inform potential supporters about your organisation. Make sure you follow the Institute of Fundraising guidance.

4. Face to face

This method of fundraising and collections can be particularly effective. Make sure you have the right permissions and follow regulations and legislation.

5. Legacies

The largest source of voluntary income to the sector, but clearly a sensitive issue. See the Institute of Fundraising advice on how to ensure best practice standards are met.

6. Churches, other faith groups and local clubs

Some religions have set up charitable arms to give to projects that serve their membership and others give directly through the congregation. Also there are many clubs in every community ranging from the Rotary to the local Women's Institute. These social and business groups often raise money for local charities and can also provide local influence and support. The best approach here is through personal contacts, look to your board, supporters and volunteers to make contact with these groups.

7. Schools

Many schools will choose a charity to raise funds for, and some make connections through the curriculum. Providing information packs about the issues your organisation works with, and contacting the Head teacher and staff is a way in. If you're working with children it's essential to think about legal, ethical and safeguarding issues.

8. Other charities

Many fundraising charities are also grant givers, e.g. Age Scotland It's useful to develop networks with other charities doing similar work to your own. Find out who may fund what you are doing, and explore the option of joint funding projects.

9. Events

They can be time consuming with small return for a lot of effort, and the need to spend money upfront to prepare. But events can provide unrestricted income, help raise your profile, attract new supporters, and give you a chance to promote your work to a wider audience. Here are some of the things you need to ensure your event works well and makes a profit:

  • reliable and committed volunteers
  • local business and community support
  • a creative and fun theme, and enough time for proper planning
  • a record of who attends – so you can contact them later and build up a base of longer-term support, not just one-off contributors.

Check your legal position and whether you need appropriate licenses, e.g. for food safety and trading, raffles and lotteries, and serving alcohol. Check out local authority, police and fire notifications, venue occupancy levels, insurance provision, VAT liability, and make sure you've got adequate staff, bad weather contingency plans, and have considered traffic and parking. The Institute of Fundraising has a lot of useful information on event fundraising.

10. Digital fundraising

An increasingly important source of fundraising as well as a great way to connect with and engage audiences and potential supporters. New funding opportunities are springing up all of the time. Here are some to think about:

  • Your website – you should have a clear donation button and option to download membership and donation forms for those who would rather not donate online.
  • Email and social media
  • Text donations via mobile phone
  • Crowd Funding, where a large number of people back an idea by putting in relatively small amounts of money
  • Facebook – where you can generate interest in your work, events, draw in new potential members, and raise your profile with a new audience
  • Instagram – enables you to share photos and videos that highlight your work
  • LinkedIn – enables you to engage supporters, share news and advertise jobs
  • Twitter – enables you to share information and news about your organisation, engage supporters and build relationships
  • YouTube – enables you to share videos that highlight your work
  • Company websites – where visitors are encouraged to click through to trigger a donation from the company.
  • Google Ad Grants which gives nonprofit organisations an advertising allowance to promote their work on Google search pages
  • Traditional fundraising methods like auctions, raffles and paid advertising can be adapted to your website. Ebay has a dedicated part of its operations for charities

Fundraising through individuals can be time intensive. You need to cultivate, recognise and reward your supporters. The Institute of Fundraising has information on individual giving. Here are our top tips:

  • Do your research so you've got as much information as possible and can target your message
  • Make sure you have the right people doing the asking
  • Establish a budget, and a goal for donations
  • Thank each donor personally and take care of them
  • Keep records, so you can claim Gift Aid and also go back to them
  • Evaluate the campaign
Last modified on 19 August 2022
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