By Olivia Burns, EducAid Volunteer
Charities are rarely ever free from anxiety about fundraising. To trust in the sustainability of many projects, you need to have confidence in the sustainability of the funding. However this can be a hard task when, especially in the UK, much of the public feel overwhelmed by the number of charities appealing for money. How can your charity catch someone’s attention and keep it when there are so many other voices clamouring for the same thing?
I am not the one with the answer to this puzzle, but when I came back from volunteering with EducAid in Sierra Leone, I was keen to do what I could to alleviate some of these anxieties. In Salone, I had been struck by how careful EducAid was with its funds and saw how every extra penny always found a grateful home. After ten weeks of talking to the staff and students, there was no question that I’d try my best to make their everyday lives a little easier when I got home.
In August I held two fundraising evenings at my family home in London and boldly set a target of £2000. As the monthly salary of junior EducAid staff is roughly £35, I chose this as the suggested donation, but those who were able to give more helped me considerably in reaching, and then surpassing my target. I decided to give a presentation since, even if someone couldn’t afford to contribute much, they would leave with a good understanding of the organisation and would be able to spread the word. A group of nearly 20 people came to each event, made out of family, friends, neighbours and other kind contacts. Aged between 21 and 81, the motley crew nevertheless had a few things in common: a curiosity about Sierra Leone and EducAid, a philanthropic heart and a desire for beer and plantain.
The guests were welcomed with a rum and pineapple cocktail, cashews and cassava crisps before piling into my front room dotted with green, white and blue flags for a PowerPoint presentation. With copious photos breaking up the content, I focussed first on Sierra Leone, then EducAid’s amazing work and vision, and finished off with a little on the projects I worked on. After the presentation came a sit-down dinner in my garden draped with bright fabrics from Freetown market. Drawing from the meals I watched the staff at Maronka cook, and the few times I apologetically stood in, I prepared spicy chicken stew and okra with rice and fried plantain (I decided dried fish and cow skin would be less well received). Although I was unable to get my hands on any Star beer, I did find plenty of mangos and limes for dessert.
Having reached a grand total of £2,195 (£2,418.75 with Gift Aid), I’m delighted to call the EducAid evenings a success! If you fancy raising some funds for EducAid though a similar event, here are some tips:
- Be ambitious with your target but choose a reasonable suggested donation.
- Send out the MyDonate link with the invite – if people can’t come they may still want to contribute!
- Encourage people to pay online so that they can add Gift Aid.
- Contact EducAid for help with décor – I borrowed some lovely little flags, and some things to flick through.
- Include lots of photos if you are doing a presentation. It’s easier to get a message across when the audience can visualise the context.
- Provide something nice for the guests (drinks/food/other goodies). People are much more likely to contribute if you yourself have invested a bit.
- If you are cooking/cocktail mixing be as authentic as possible, but keep it simple. Don’t underestimate how long it takes to cater for large groups!
- Say thank you again! Your guests have each contributed to helping EducAid fight poverty in Sierra Leone through education, and that’s no small matter.
If you would like to learn more about fun ways to raise funds for EducAid, please email Farah (firstname.lastname@example.org) or come by our donated office for a cup of tea and a chat about how you can help.
Get involved at https://www.educaid.org.uk/get-involved/