A fundraising case example

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Figure 12 Windmill Hill City Farm website homepage.

Windmill Hill City Farm in Bristol is a registered charity with a very diverse and sustainable mix of income across all the four income categories. This includes:

  • Gifted income: Requests for individual donations and a farm membership scheme.

  • Grants: From a range of funders for projects such as their ‘People Grow’ project to develop community gardens engaging families, schools and the community in general.

  • Contracts: The charity delivers services for the local authority including a drop-in mental health group, two groups for older people and several sessions of supported volunteering for people with learning difficulties or mental health issues.

  • Trading: They sell a number of things that contribute directly to their mission (on-mission) and those that are purely to raise money (off-mission). The on-mission trading includes courses and workshops, nursery and other childcare and services for schools. The off-mission trading includes venue hire, a gift shop, café and meat production.

As you will have already noted from the previous topic, the financial history from the Charity Commission website shows that the organisation increased its income from £917,226 in 2011 to £1,326,342 in 2015. In the context of the recession during those years, when many charities struggled to maintain their levels of income, this was an impressive increase of over 40%.

In order to raise more money for their work, the staff and trustees of Windmill Hill City Farm have squeezed as much value as they can out of both their physical space and the relationships with their supporters. This is a great strategy: making the most out of the assets they have.

One of the key fundraising relationships that they have maximised was with parents of young children living in the Bristol area. They have increased the lifetime value of those relationships by offering lots of opportunities for the parents to engage with the charity and to donate money and purchase goods or services.

On their first visit to the farm, as well as visiting the animals and playground, parents can:

  • buy lunch or a coffee in the café

  • buy a gift from the shop
  • take part in one of the free or charged-for children’s activities
  • drop some coins into a donation box.

Hopefully, they will enjoy their visit and have a good impression of the farm. And because there are lots of different things happening at different times of the year, parents are likely to return regularly with their young children, spending money each time.

The parents’ relationship with the farm may then lead them to:

  • choose to send their children to nursery there
  • recommend the farm to friends and school teachers
  • join the membership scheme
  • choose to hire a room at the farm for their child’s birthday party.

When there are special appeals, such as to renovate a pig sty, these parents are already supporters of the farm and are likely to donate.

The farm has a very broad appeal. Their strapline is ‘A place where people grow’. This shows that the farm is a physical location, where people grow things and look after the environment, but that it is also where people themselves are nurtured and grown. This will help them to be flexible in their grant applications and to find a good match with funders.

Ethical considerations

2.4 Key points from Section 2