Basic Management and Fundraising Tips for Community Groups
Community groups are volunteer led organisations, generally small or midsize, that provide support and services to people in their immediate environment and sometimes beyond. According to Trust for London, between 600,000 and 900,000 groups exist under the radar in the UK, which is an underestimate as many more groups are hidden below the surface, while some pop-up in response to a particular need and then disband afterwards. There are also online community groups like Facebook Groups, Forums, etc. All these groups benefit all sorts of people in the community including young people, families, older people, low-income groups, faith groups, minority groups, ex-offenders, among others. However, community groups do not just stop at the community level. They also contribute to the economy in ways that are not always easy to measure. Find out what you need to know about community group management and fundraising, below:
Things to Consider Before You Start
Community groups provide different services for different reasons. Whatever your services or reasons, there are a few things to consider before you jump in. They include the following:
- Where the idea came from
Whether the idea to start a community group came from you alone or a group of like-minded individuals will have a bit of bearing on how the group is run. So, it is advisable to consider this before you progress.
- Check for other groups
Before going any further, research and find out if there are other community groups in your area doing the same thing. You need to be sure what you are offering is not the exact match.
- Offer complimentary services
If the group in your area happens to be offering the same services you are considering, try going for something that compliments what is already on offer.
- Evidence of want:
Your research should at least yield some evidence that what you are offering is needed and wanted. This will ensure that there is an actual gap for your group to fill.
It is important to consider the kind of personnel you would need to run and sustain the group. Do you have access to those people? Who will be your members? Can you get them to buy into your cause?
Culture and Ethos
For your community group, there should be some fundamentals that point to the core nature of your group and what you are looking to accomplish. It is a bit like constructing a building in which different elements, each playing a vital role, contribute to the whole building as a single entity. With your ethos, you can spell out the principles you want your members to embody. Consider adopting the following:
This empowerment is more psychological than physical, which does not in any way negate other kinds of empowerments. To achieve this, you must make them feel like they have some form of control over their actions. This, in turn, creates the feeling that they are acting of their own volition and that what they are doing is important, a contribution to the smaller and greater good.
- Inclusivity and Diversity
If you are to build a strong unit, you need to weave inclusivity and diversity into the makeup of your group through your words and actions consistently. At the heart of diversity and inclusion is a level playing field that values every member equally, irrespective of who they are or where they are from.
- Planning and Preparation
Each problem you take on will present different challenges, so you must foster a culture of meticulous planning and execution. This means taking the time to study what you want to do, why you want to do it, and then coming up with effective ways to do it. This can sometimes be a long and arduous process but eventually, you will see that it is better than going in blind.
- Character and Appearance
Physical appearance may seem superficial to many, but it is important if your group operates in a community where appearances tend to act as identifiers. This means that certain appearances and characteristics either makes you stand out or blend in. For example, most Islamic groups and communities will avoid interest related funds and alcohol.
- Collaboration and Participation
A community group, as the name implies, requires people coming together and contributing their different levels of expertise to a cause they believe in. Simply put, participation and collaboration are at the very heart of community groups. So, you should be opened to reaching out to other groups and taking in people from different walks of life.
- Transparency and Trust
Transparency and trust should be one of your group’s non-negotiable principles. Without transparency and trust, anything that involves a group of people is doomed to fall apart and the same goes for a community group. Every facet of your operation should be done in a transparent and trustworthy way, including your leadership, other team members, people in the community and every other person who might be impacted by your current project.
Assigning Roles for Governance
Members need to know and understand their roles so that others can know who to go to for certain things and when to expect feedback. If the community group is a big one with many affiliate groups, there may be similar post holdings in the different subgroups. Here are some roles your officers might play:
- Role of the Secretary
The secretary is responsible for taking minutes in meetings, preserving past reports and minutes, keeping a record of membership and important phone numbers, preparing agendas in collaboration with the chair, sending and receiving correspondence.
- Role of the Chairperson/ President
The role of the chairperson is to make sure the group is run smoothly and efficiently. During meetings, the chairperson deals with difficult members, helps reach decisions and makes sure to involve everyone while also moving things along on time.
- Role of the Treasurer
The treasurer oversees the group’s money. The treasurer’s day-to-day responsibility includes monetary transfers, end of month checks and balances, keeping a record of money spent and received, and audits at committee meetings.
- Role of the Vice-Chair/ Vice President
Not all community groups designate this role, especially when the Chair is almost always available to carry out their role. For communities with a Vice-Chair, the role involves acting as the deputy to the Chairperson, stepping in when the chairperson is indisposed. Other duties could be assigned to the vice chairperson.
- Role of the Community Relations Officer
It is the job of the Community Relations Officer to ensure that your outreach missions are working and reaching their target, all without smashing your budget for the mission. The role also involves helping give your community group project a positive image to the public through group activities, media events, and public events.
- Membership Officer
The primary role of the membership officer is to ‘recruit’ new members and to manage the membership.
- Empowerment/ Training Officer
The role of this officer is to ensure that within constraints, the membership optimize their full potential. This will usually be done by researching relevant training and development activities that could benefit members.
- Strategic Officer
The role of this officer is to be the think tank of the post holders. He will think-out long-term strategies and generally find intellectual solutions to problems and challenges faced by the officers, by carrying out adequate research and proffering solution.
- Role of Fundraising Officer
The fundraising officer or manager oversees the fundraising department of your community group. The fundraising officer is your go-to person when your group is looking to raise funds. This officer oversees grant writing, budget management, creating strategies effective for raising funds, organizing fundraising events, managing volunteers, and donor development.
- Role of Asset Management Officer
Your Asset Management Officer is the person who takes stock of your group’s asset and then points out how to invest and make returns. The responsibilities of your Asset Management Officer include analyzing asset performance, analyzing operational performance, budget generation, cash flow forecasting, and contract negotiations.
- Role of Administrator
This is a more generalist designation, which you can go with if your community group is just starting without the manpower it requires to break down roles. This allows you to handpick specific duties you can hoist on the Administrator.
- Role of Events Officer
When there is an event on the horizon, the Events Officer works with different departments to manage the event through pre-planning, risk assessment, marketing, and budget management. Other responsibilities include developing plans for events, securing sponsors, researching venues, and recruiting support staff.
- Role of IT Officer
Your IT officer is responsible for managing all your technology infrastructure. It is the job of your IT Officer to design IT operations, suggest changes to your group’s IT architecture, implement suitable technology, maintain systems, software installations, and database administration.
Training Your Community Group Officers and Members
Training gives your group members the skills required to carry out their respective roles. You may not always have the means to train them in-house. In that case, consider getting them the training they need from experts outside. Below are specific areas you might want to focus on:
- Finance management
- About the community group
- Public speaking
- Team building
- Conflict management and resolution
- CPR- Emergency Resuscitation
- Time management
- Risk assessment
- Goal setting and achievement
- People skills
- Research skills
- First aid
- Crowd management
- Business skills, etc.
Ultimately, you must check which skills your group needs before deciding the kind of training to provide. When you have settled on the skill you want your members to acquire, the next thing is to decide how they can acquire such skills. Here are a few ways to do that:
- Development Conferences
Most conferences are led by industry experts and thought leaders, people who have walked the walk and have a wealth of experience to share. During conferences like that, innovative and compelling topics are discussed, interactive workshops take place, and panels debate.
A workshop is another medium through which you can maximize the potential of your members to boost productivity. Usually, workshops happen within a few days, allowing attendants to take in bites of knowledge and discuss in groups. Workshops could happen online or offline, depending on the scope.
- Sponsored Online courses
This is one of the most convenient ways of providing training to your officers and members. Online classes are geographically flexible and convenient, plus the low cost of enrollment. Another wonderful thing about online courses is that they give you so many options. There is hardly any course you would not find on Udemy, Skillshare, Thinkific, Teachable, and others.
- Peer coaching
You can take advantage of peer coaching to train your team members so they can reach the standard required to move your group forward. The idea is to have two or more persons from the group to conduct research, bounce ideas off each other, teach and refine each other’s skills. Alternatively, there could be skill shares amongst team members.
If you do not have the resources to enroll your members in online courses or workshops, you can get the more experienced ones in your group to teach the less experienced ones whose skills need a bit of refining. This way, they can mentor them for some time and transfer some of their skill for the betterment of your community group.
Tips on How to Raise Money
To effectively raise money, you must know why you are raising the money and know exactly how much you need for it. This is something you should discuss with the group. Knowing how much a project will cost will help you figure out the medium through which to raise the money. Below are a few ways to raise money for your community group:
You should consider crowdfunding as a means of raising money if you have a specific purpose for it and have a wide reach with your social media networks. There are websites you can then use to crowdfund. All you need to do is register your group on the website, write a brief funding appeal with how much you want to raise, and then your page is ready. You could also have a video to compliment this.
- Appeals for Funding
Fundraising appeals involve driving publicity and then asking the public for donation for a specific project. You can use media like your website, TV stations, radio stations, social media channels, press releases, blogs, and event flyers.
Some events like bazaars let groups have stalls where you can have a collection tin for people to make donations to your group. However, if you have a stall like that at your event you should have large buckets labelled and use online service so that people can donate by text too.
Raffles are an easy way to collect donations and they do not need to be registered. You can create raffles at an event or on your way to an event. You can also print draw tickets and draws can last for some time. Society Lottery is another kind of raffle that allows you to ask local businesses to donate prizes like food hampers, boxes of chocolate and even haircuts.
- Event sponsorship
You could get high net worth individuals, and/ or businesses to sponsor events. In return, you could acknowledge them and advertise their products and services.
- Complimentary cards/ flyers/ post cards
You could have relevant information on these, including donation options, and share with potential donors.
- Regular donations
Regular donations involve asking people to make donations of any amount. Usually, if you do it with robust publicity, irrespective of the low amounts donated by individuals you will achieve your goal because enough people will have contributed. Ways to ask for donations include standing orders, payroll giving, direct texts, and direct debit.
- Pledge fundraising
Pledge fundraising involves asking people to donate pledge that can be redeemed once you hit your target amount. This method of fundraising is dependent on how many people pledge because you can’t begin to collect until you ‘re certain that the amount already pledged will be enough for your project.
- Raising funds through local businesses
Funds can be raised through businesses in your neighborhood who want to give back. It does not have to be cash. It could be clothes, flowers or whatever they are selling. This is especially ideal if you have a project that requires certain materials that a particular business sells in your neighborhood.
- Fundraising through members
Your community group can raise funds through its members. Ways to do this include membership fee, community shares, and club lottery. To establish membership fees, you can ask your group members to pay a certain amount regularly. You can produce membership cards that can help track each member’s fees. You could also capture this digitally on computer spreadsheets.
- Fundraising from selling goods and services
This is a great way for your community group self-generate income. You can fund it from your purse, but if you don’t have that means, you can ask members or other organisations for funding, which you will pay back when the business is established. Some merchandise you could sell include badges, t-shirts, CDs, DVDs or vinyl records, keyrings, baseball caps, pens, and jewelry.
The success of your application for a grant depends a lot on your letter, constitution, and other supporting documents. Funders expect to know how your organization is run, your aims and objectives, mission and vision, and your accounts. An application for a grant is typically addressed to businesses, organisations, grant-making trusts, local councils, etc.
Popular Fundraising Platforms
In cases where you want to do a virtual fundraiser, you will need the best online fundraising platforms available. The importance of virtual fundraisers became even more apparent to many non-profit organisations because of the advent of the coronavirus pandemic. Most of these sites are flexible with donor management, with mobile-friendly and customizable donation pages, and auction tools. Here are some popular fundraising platforms you might want to consider:
- Fundraise Up
- Just Giving
- Double the Donation
Events for Fundraising
Fundraising events can be very tricky because it can very easily go both ways. You may raise money or end up losing some of your own. Which is why you must plan for every event very meticulously. Below are some fundraising ideas you might want to consider:
- Mystery tours and treasure hunts
- Musical performance and karaoke nights
- A fair or fete
- Fun walk or run and litter picks
- Race nights, quizzes, and bingo
- Bag packing or car washing at supermarkets
- Jumble sales
- Mountain climbing
- Tea parties
- Networking events for professionals, entrepreneurs, etc.
Best Practices of Governance
Management is so important to community groups because it is one of the deciding factors between remaining active and going extinct. Your management committee should be made up of people who are committed and available. And for them to manage your group successfully, power, accountability and governance must be portrayed and deployed in a balanced way. Below are some of the best practices of governance:
- Put administrative systems in place
Administrative systems should be in place. Administrative records, historical records, list of assets, financial records, minutes of meetings, hand over notes, best practice, etc. This should all be well documented and stored in not less than three places such as cloud storage, hard drive, computer, Dropbox, and hard copies.
- Evaluate and re-evaluate
There should be regular evaluation and re-evaluation of the Community group. You need to keep yourself in check. What are you doing well, or not so well? What could you do to improve the community group and its membership? Are your practices out of date? Are you still relevant to your members? Are you getting the best out of your members? Do you add value to your members? These are all relevant questions.
- Document everything
Documentation should be at the Centre of everything you do as a community group. Documentation is not just a tool for transparency but also governance. While documentation provides transparency, it can also serve as a benchmark and reference for future projects, and activities.
- Effective communication channels
Communication is key to successfully running your organization. So, you must set aside channels of communication, so everyone is clear how to reach other members. This will help avert or reduce confusion and misunderstanding, saving you time and effort.
- Encourage constructive criticism
Constructive criticism aids growth. It will bring out the best in members, its leadership, and the community group. So do not attempt to stifle it. Your members need to understand that if they think their input can help a member, they should not hesitate to give it respectfully.
- Seek professional help
Some projects will come as something completely out of your league. In cases like that, you should seek professional help. Professionals have great skill sets like research, intelligence, administrative skills, communication skills, problem-solving skills, IT skills, literacy skills, resourcefulness, resource management skills, etc. Find someone who has the necessary expertise required for the project. Work with and learn from such people.