Fundraising as a collaborative partnership. Strategy and a capital fundraising campaign for Ronald McDonald House South Island.
Ronald McDonald House South Island is a home away from home for the families of children undergoing treatment in Christchurch Hospital. More than a place to stay, it gives community to those who need support. Families are surrounded by people who understand what they’re going through, because they’re going through it too.
Local businesses rally round, giving money, time, and supplies to the House. A home cooked meal. A free coffee at a local café. A piece of cake. A hundred tiny kindnesses to support families in a time of uncertainty and fear.
The House has its own very capable fundraising team. So, we were honoured to hear from CEO, Mandy Kennedy, in early 2018.
A collective endeavour
Mandy wanted our help to refresh their fundraising strategy for the future. Our team worked alongside the House fundraising team and their Board to develop a two-year strategic fundraising plan. Mandy recalls that it was a valuable collaborative process.
“It was good for our team to shine light on other opportunities and look at other ways to craft our fundraising proposition. Fresh eyes are a wonderful thing.”
Mandy believes in investing in her team, saying,
“It was logical to me to invest in working with a fundraising team at the top of their field, which is how we see Barrer & Co. They provided on-the-job training and walked alongside our team, upskilling them along the way. That meant we could move faster. And we got the best advice and support and the best outcome for families.”
Last year Ronald McDonald House South Island cared for 1,206 families. This requires significant resource and the House receives no government funding. With this in mind, Mandy states:
“Our mission to serve families is always paramount. It’s vital for us to have a solid fundraising strategy to ensure that we take care of our families now and well into the future.”
Funding the Ronald McDonald Family Room
Once the fundraising strategy had been approved, our next collaborative mission was a capital fundraising campaign for a three-bedroom Family Room at the new Christchurch Hospital building.
Families of sick children can spend whole days (and nights) at the hospital. This homely space would provide a family haven. A place to relax, have a meal, take a nap, or stay overnight. All just steps away from their child.
The House has a strong community of supporters. But because they don’t often fundraise for large capital projects, their team felt they needed support to attract the major gifts they needed to make the Family Room project a fundraising success. The House had $600,000 to raise by Christmas 2019.
Mandy saw this as another chance for Barrer & Co to work collaboratively with the House team, so that they could gain experience in running a capital fundraising programme. Mandy explains:
“In the future when we go to do another capital campaign, our team will have the tools in their toolbox to enable them. Being a charity, we don’t have an enormous training budget. So, to be able to do a practical thing like a capital campaign, while at the same time upskilling our team, is so good.”
Together we built the capital fundraising strategy and created a case for support. When we build a case for support, we research first, and we test after.
First, we explore the project with potential supporters. This helps us identify what excites people about the project. It also helps us identify weaknesses in our proposition. All this feeds into the key messages we use in the case for support.
Then, once we’ve created a case for support, we test it to make sure it resonates with people who might give. We do this through more one-on-one interviews, or with a focus group. For the Family Room, we tested the ask with a group of corporate businesses, because they were one of our core target groups for major gifts. The focus group went so well that one business signed up for the top tier of sponsorship on the spot. It was a dream outcome to have $150,000 gifted before we’d launched the campaign. We also identified a project task force.
This is a committee of project champions and advocates who take responsibility for making the ask. We always try to find people who will lead the charge, and Phil McGoldrick was our Family Room star. He inspired the others to bring their networks to the table, and together they raised the money the House needed.
Providing a pathway for your team
This project is particularly close to our hearts. Not only because we’re wholehearted advocates for the work the House does to support the families of sick children. Not only because we’re proud to have been part of the team who made the Family Room happen. Those things are true. But we also love this project because it’s a pure example of partnership and collaboration. And it shows where we can add value by educating and sharing our knowledge.
The reason we get up every morning and do what we do, is to strengthen the not-for-profit sector in New Zealand. We want to help you have more impact, by teaching you how to engage your communities to support your cause. That is Barrer & Co’s real legacy. Not the wins on the board. Although they’re treasured too.
But the people we upskill and the knowledge we share with the sector.
That’s why when Mandy talks about the skills that we taught her team, our heart is full. Mandy agrees.
“We decided for a whole lot of reasons that Barrer & Co would work well alongside our team. I was looking at it from a long-term perspective, not just for the fundraising strategy, but to upskill our team to work on new opportunities that we had identified for the future. It’s really important to me that our team are focused and learn the right way to fundraise. So, to have Barrer & Co with their expertise come in and just shine the light … It was a lovely partnership and collaboration.”