Raising funds for teams & individuals

Raising money to send individuals or teams interstate or overseas requires a different set of skills than raising funds for a not-for-profit organisation, school or other legally constituted body. If you ask the right people often enough, you'll get there. But there are no short cuts.

The school band has been selected to perform in Tokyo (say). Awesome! You're going!

Provided that you can raise $6000 each. Ouch.

Raising money to send amateur individuals or teams away to events – musical, sporting, adventure-based or otherwise – is a common problem. Australia is a big place that's a long way away from anywhere else, and it's hard to leave town without running up a big bill.

How do you cover those costs? There are a number of possible ways. None of them is easy.

Why is it so hard to get this sort of funding? There are reasons:

  • It's a one-off – you can't develop and refine your mailing lists, or gradually bring on donors over time
  • It may be harder for you to convince people who don’t know you that you can provide good stewardship of their funds
  • Many people think such trips are a luxury rather than a necessity
  • There’s an element in the giving population that believes in 'user pays'.

So why is raising funds for a trip even theoretically possible?

The main thing you have going for you is that it’s easy to explain what you want to do – and pictures of gratefully smiling beneficiaries are the bread and butter of charity fundraising. Tell the story. Make it interesting and inspiring and familiar.

Below we have outlined some of the main sources of funds for one-off needs, with each method colour coded for ease of success – beware, though, that when we say ‘easy’ we mean ‘relatively’ easy. Nothing is truly easy in fundraising.

Degree of Difficulty: HARD

We only know of one government grant program in Australia that will cover this sort of cost, and it’s only for sporting needs. The Australian Sport’s Commission’s Local Sporting Champions program provides funding for young people aged 12-18 to help offset the cost of travel, accommodation, uniforms or equipment when competing, coaching or officiating at a sporting event.

If you find another state or federal grant that sport or music groups could be eligible for, let us know by emailing the Our Community Grants Team so we can spread the good word.

Degree of Difficulty: HARD

This is going to be tough. Foundations generally have more interest in changing the world here rather than sending you there. Even if they did want to contribute, their tax status restrictions would probably prevent them from doing so.

You can look up grants in the Funding Centre grants database and you may find a few exceptions to the rule – Telstra's Kids Fund and the Education Foundation grants, for example, are two you might want to try. Bear in mind, though, that grants can take a long time to come through, and almost always require a degree of reporting back after you’ve spent the grant.

Degree of Difficulty: MODERATE

Check the website of your local government authority to see if they have a grants program that would help cover your costs. Some of them do, though that number seems to be falling every year.

If you can’t see anything that looks promising, give the council a call. They may have a fund they can use to make a contribution (though they probably won't cover the full cost).

Contact your local councillor as well and see if they have a ward allowance that they can tap in to. It shouldn’t be a factor, but it won’t hurt to let them know what you will do for them by way of publicity in return for their help.

There are a number of people out there who are closely enough connected to you or yours to chip in a small contribution. You have to find them and ask them for money.

It's not socially acceptable just to beg, so you may need to organise an event such as a fun run, a trivia night, a concert, a cookbook, or a celebrity auction.

OUR TIP: Be aware when organising a fundraiser that the event itself is not really the point; it’s simply a more polite way of asking people to give you money. You still need to convince people of the worthiness of this cause (among so many other worthy causes). You also need to wary of drawing from the same well too many times – aim for one big event, rather than lots of smaller ones that will exhaust and annoy your nearest and dearest.

Degree of Difficulty: EASY(ISH)

Sponsorship can include everything from asking your local butcher for a couple of kilos of free sausages for a sausage sizzle, up to a full-scale commercial commitment with something like the naming rights to the LocalCompany Mandolin Ensemble.

There’s also a possibility of fundraising in the workplace – that's where your family members ask their colleagues (or the company itself) to pitch in. Be aware, though, that it can be touchy to mix work, family and money.

OUR TIP: If you want to go down the path of a proper commercial sponsorship, you need to be able to promise a commercial return – publicity, customers – that’s at least equal to the amount of their donation.

Degree of Difficulty: MODERATE

There may be not-for-profit institutions operating in your community that might chip in if there's a sufficient connection to your cause – the school itself, if it's a school thing, or perhaps the Australian Peak Youth Mandolin Federation, if it's a mandolin thing, or perhaps (if you have very good contacts and a good story to tell) your local Rotary or Lions or Apex or Zonta or Probus or Soroptimist clubs.

Not all of them will have money to hand out, but they might be able to help in other ways (opening doors, for example). It doesn't hurt to ask, and it doesn't hurt (much) to get turned down.

Degree of Difficulty: EASY(ISH)

With crowdfunding, you go online with a crowdfunding company, say what you need the money for, and hope people respond. There are a large number of Australian crowdfunding companies. They generally charge (about 5% of your takings, on average) but only if you raise the money you’re after, so it’s a low-risk option.
OUR TIP: This works best if you already have an online following on Facebook and Twitter and can channel them to your appeal.

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