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Pitching the value of your local authority grant application

StrategyRob Mulholland

McQueenie Mulholland helps charities raise funds to continue the great work they do in communities around the UK. A significant part of this income comes from grants; often from local authorities due to the support these organisations provide to the public.

This got us thinking: Are there any trends in how local authority funds are allocated to voluntary, community and social enterprises? And could these trends be helpful in informing the tactics these organisations use in the targeting grants from local authorities?

Using our local County Council (Devon), an authority committed to transparency and that publishes data related to grant distribution under the Open Government License, we analysed data on grants to the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector over 2014 to see what trends exist.

These are our key findings:

  • Most grants were between £1 and £1,000. This accounted for 431 grants - over  55% of all grants. 
  • Grants of £1 to £1000 only however account for 6% of the value of all money awarded. 
  • If we look at grants between £1 and £6,000, They represent nearly 90% of the total number of grants awarded but only account for 24% of the total value. 
  •  +£100,000 grants account for just 0.51% of the total number but makes up 27% of the total value. 
  • The data showed distribution peaks at £10,000, £15,000 and £20,000 award levels - this shows  more interest in larger projects with round numbers. 

To summarise the data: If your organisation is thinking of making a bid for a local authority grant it would be wise to aim low in the value you’re seeking (between £1 and £6,000). It was awards of this level that made up the majority of successful bids.

If your project requires more support you may want to consider aiming for a round number of £10,000, £15,000 or £20,000, as there were definite peaks in the number of grants awarded at these very specific higher levels.

Written by: Rob Mulholland
Data Analysis by: Anthoney Strowger

Client donations: Test channels not just the ask itself

StrategyRob Mulholland

In our work with charities (especially smaller ones) we see a lot of concern and reluctance to ask clients, who benefit from an organisation's services, for donations. It's understandable and we recommend that all charities consider key client demographic attributes before developing client-focused fundraising strategies. 

Recently, after analysing its client database and concluding its clients were suitable for a fundraising 'ask', a charity we've been working with decided to embark on such a test. 

However, rather than just focus on the obvious, we proposed the charity test not just asking for a donation but also testing the channels in which it used to do so. In doing so, we opted to test post versus email versus telephone all of which would utilise the same creative proposition (a client feedback survey) and fundraising ask - the results were compelling. 

Below is an infographic that gives the basic headline results of our test, from which we learnt:

 


1) This charity's clients are willing and able to give donations - 18.8% said they would do so.

2) While telephone performed the best in terms of clients completing the survey (26.7% did so), telephone also performed the worst in terms of actual donations received (0% - possibly due to the recent scandal and mistrust of telephone fundraising)

3) Email and post had equally the same number of donations but email out performed post in terms of the average donation value (£20 compared with £10 respectively)

4) Due to its non-tangible quality, email by far out performed post in terms of Return On Investment - with a positive ROI of 6.7 to 1.

 

As a result of this work McQueenie Mulholland is now developing a second test for the charity and re-examining its digital strategy for both fundraising and communications objectives.

It’s still all about the brand

Strategy, PREleanor Yeo

Whether it’s Marks and Spencer, Tesco or VW - we are surrounded by “brands”. They are an integral part of our daily life as customers, and crucial for helping businesses to grow, develop and maintain customer loyalty.

But a brand is not just a logo - far from it. A brand is the very heart of the company, the product, the reputation, the staff and the customers - a brand is a living thing, and its visual logo is only an element of that. Brands are the ‘X’ factor - they’re what makes your company stand out from the others.

My usual bleary eyed, early morning scan of the BBC news website, led me to two articles on well known British brands (RBS and Anne Summers), and how those brands have adapted to meet the needs of their customers. The RBS said:

"Our brands are our interface with our customers and through them we will be able to connect (with customers) and rebuild pride."

McQueenie Mulholland have recently been working on one of Devon's and Exeter's longest standing brands - the CVS (Council for Voluntary Service). Working to connect charities and businesses with the volunteers, staff or training that help them operate, the CVS has been in Exeter for about 70 years.

We’ve recently been tasked with starting this branch of the organisation off on the road to re-branding. We’re asking staff all about the organisation that they work for, how they describe it to others and what it really means to them and to the thousands of people that the organisation helps each year. After all, only by them all truly understanding what makes their organisation unique,  can they build a brand that can adapt to new challenges and responsibilities.

This change is not something that will happen overnight. But it will become something that takes this valuable organisation into 2016 with the confidence that their staff, stakeholders, volunteers, partner organisations, customers and the general public understand, and can use, with confidence.

And we can’t wait to get started!