Cochlear implants reconnect people with the world of hearing. It’s no exaggeration to say that SCIP are in the business of transforming lives.
In June 2017 we received a call from David Kent, Chair of the Board of SCIP, the Southern Cochlear Implant Programme. And they had an interesting challenge.
For 15 years they had been establishing their life-changing programme. They receive government funding to help people access implants, but it isn’t enough funding to pay for everyone who would benefit from the procedure. Their waiting list was growing.
This sat ill with their Board. They didn’t want people to have to wait years for the gift of hearing. They wanted to have more impact and help more people.
They wanted to know if they could fundraise. They never had before. They didn’t know if they could or even should. And they didn’t know where to start.
David said: “SCIP was an organisation with no publicity, no profile. If you went out on the street no one could have told you who we were. Until recently, people didn’t even know what a cochlear implant was.
“So, we wanted to uncover if we could fundraise, and if we could, how would we go about fundraising? We were looking for someone to lead us because we couldn’t do it on our own. Hiring Barrer & Co was one of our better decisions.”
ARE YOU READY TO ASK?
Not every good cause can fundraise.
An organisation needs to be ready to go out and ask.
Fundraising readiness means your organisation ticks important boxes. You need strong governance, clarity of vision, and operational integrity. You must meet a genuine need that no one else is addressing. And you need an audience of people who believe enough to give.
If you go to market but you’re not ready to ask, you put yourself in a difficult position. You may even be setting yourself up to fail. This can damage your organisation and your reputation.
So, when someone like SCIP comes to us with an idea, we say, that’s great. Let’s do a feasibility study to see if you’re ready to ask.
A feasibility study helps you understand if you have a solid proposition. We ensure that your internal structures, processes, and resources are robust enough to support fundraising. We research your audience, and interview stakeholders from groups that may be motivated to give. We test your case with potential donors.
Our goal is to understand if your project is considered worthwhile, and check that there is money to fund it. A feasibility study can help identify areas where your organisation may need to do more work. Also, it helps uncover points of connection for potential donors, which become key messages in your case for support.
For SCIP we conducted a full feasibility study, interviewing 25 stakeholders. Our research showed that they had a strong enough proposition and enough potential support to fundraise. Our next mission was to prepare them to ask.
A STEP INTO THE UNKNOWN
David recalls: ‘Barrer & Co came back with a strategy and a plan. And then we sat down and said, ok what’s next? We’ve got the strategy. We’ve got the plan. That’s fine, but how do we make it happen?”
After meeting with David and their GM Neil Heslop, to talk through the support they were looking for, we helped SCIP recruit a Fundraising Manager. This process involved input from the Board on what they wanted to see going forward into this new era.
David remembers how it felt to commit to fundraising.
“It was really a step into the unknown to put money towards fundraising when our role was to give people the gift of hearing. We were putting a lot of things on the line to create something that didn’t exist. And even with the input from Barrer & Co, we still didn’t know whether it was going to be a success. So, we had a lot on our mind.”
SCIP recruited Belinda van der Monde, former CEO of the Cystic Fibrosis Association and CEO of the Haemophilia Foundation. Belinda brought a rich institutional knowledge of charities in New Zealand. She was shifting her focus from senior management, to devote herself to her passion for fundraising.
Belinda remembers: “I really wanted the job because I knew that SCIP had put in all the hard work with Barrer & Co prior to even advertising. It made me want to be part of an organisation that would be so thorough and so professional.”
The fundraising strategy we put together for SCIP became Belinda’s fundraising bible (her words, not ours). She is candid with us about her initial thoughts on the strategy.
“I admit to a little bit of professional pride when I first started. I thought I don’t know if I need to follow a plan. I’ve been doing this for a long time. I know what I’m doing.
“But I did follow the plan. And it was funny because absolutely every single thing that Barrer & Co suggested, predicted, and directed came to fruition. It was so well thought out, and it worked so well.
“I would say to anyone considering using Barrer & Co that if they write a strategy for you, stick to the plan. Stick to the plan because it absolutely works.”
ASTOUNDING, EXCELLENT STUFF
During their first year of fundraising, SCIP exceeded their targets.
Belinda recalls: “We were incredibly fortunate with our grants and it really did come back to relationship building. Barrer & Co taught me that you cannot overemphasise the importance of relationship building. That’s something they do so well.”
David agrees. “It’s all about the people and tight relationships built up over years. It’s difficult to break in when you don’t have a profile. What we’ve achieved has been astounding, excellent stuff … well above what we imagined when we first started.
“We’re now receiving our second and third round of grants. And when you read what Barrer & Co said to us back in 2017, success was about getting those repeat grants. The importance of getting that consistent funding. And that’s about relationships.”
SCIP are now building relationships with corporate sponsors. Mutual Credit Finance sponsor them $100,000. And thanks to a fortuitous conversation on a plane, Forsyth Barr sponsor a scholarship for students with cochlear implants attending university.
David also believes that the work Belinda is doing has raised awareness of SCIP.
“We’re starting to get better awareness and a little bit more of a profile. In October for the first time ever, our annual appeal Loud Shirt Day, is going to be for adults as well as children. That’s really great. It’s getting our message out. But we need more. We want to get in front of millions because we need millions to clear our waiting lists.”
Belinda adds. “Barrer & Co are good for the not-for-profit sector. They make the rest of us look good. Without Barrer & Co’s input we wouldn’t have got to where we are. It’s going really well. We’re now in a situation where we’re getting some good wins. Looking ahead it’s exciting.”