As a charity fundraising platform, we listen to and work closely with fundraisers from a wide range of charities including Mind, DEC, Women's Aid, Make-A-Wish, Shelter and WWF-UK and we are constantly developing our platform to meet fundraisers' needs and the needs of their supporters. Many of the Work for Good team have also spent their careers working for charities both big and small, and we understand the challenges that fundraisers face. Plus as a small business ourselves, we are uniquely placed to understand the huge fundraising potential that small businesses and sales fundraising offers.
There are 5.6 million small businesses in the UK, many of whom are looking for causes to give to, and given the opportunity, would collectively be able to raise millions of pounds of income for the charity sector.
So to help fundraisers prepare for welcoming this growing supporter group, it's important that they understand the opportunity. Here are the most common misunderstandings and small business myths that we hear.
Myth 1: Small business means small income generation
There is a MAJOR difference between how the size of a charity and the size of a business is measured. The size of a charity is defined by income, whereas the size of a business is defined by the number of employees it has.
Myth 2: Startups should be kept at arms length until they’re more established
A start-up is a business which is no more than 3-5 years old, founded by one or more entrepreneurs to develop a unique product or service and bring it to market.
Some of the most profitable start-ups are also going to be those that are easy to get started, have low initial costs and that can capitalise on a market need or trend - which is why it’s super important to be open to innovative, solution focused small businesses wanting to help your charity. Look where the likes of Monzo, Bloom & Wild and Airbnb are now!
Myth 3: Individual givers should only be stewarded for individual donations
Small businesses also include sole-traders - individuals who own and run small businesses. They have the autonomy of making their own decisions and on average can give £5 more per month than individual donors. Plus they can add Gift Aid to their donations. How many fundraising teams know which of their individual givers or volunteers own or run a business?
If you think about it this way... if an individual wanted to give £50 a month to your charity – every single month – no strings attached; fundraisers would be thrilled! Now imagine they run a small business and want to raise this through their sales. Why should this change how we treat them?
Myth 4: Small businesses only care about profit
Businesses want to do good, help their communities and give back to the causes they care about. Purposeful business is not just a growing trend, it is essential to the success of businesses. There’s actually never been a more exciting time when people are increasingly recognising their social and environmental impact.
Our sector has a real opportunity to maximise the impact this highly engaged, purpose-driven and innovative supporter group can have for raising sustainable charitable income through sales fundraising; and now is the moment to seize it.