Most conservation groups will need to raise money at some point, e.g. for equipment or to cover marketing, operational and admin costs.
There are many different ways to raise funds and what works for you will depend on the size of your group, the time and resources you have, your location, and of course how much money you need and over what period.
Many groups apply for grants as part of their annual fundraising plan. Grant applications are usually open for a limited time and have strict criteria. For more information, see which funding options are available for predator control projects in your area and then have a look at our grant application tips.
Before you begin fundraising
- First, make sure that you actually need to fundraise – could you borrow equipment instead, or recruit volunteers?
- Write down some information about your group and your project plan (think about who’s in the group, what you’re trying to achieve, when and where you want to do it, why you’re doing it, and how). Whichever fundraising method you choose, people will need to know those details. Keep it short and to the point.
- Decide how much money you’ll need, what you need it for, how it will be spent, and over what period. Make a list and write down estimated costs. The clearer you are on this, the easier the fundraising process will be.
- Be clear about what you need the funding for and who can fund it – many fund sources are very particular about what they fund, e.g. it can be hard to get funds for some essentials like admin and people, but a lot easier to get funding for traps or plants.
- Gather together some fundraising ideas (see below) and make a plan with a timeline for the year (e.g. local events, high-expense periods). Make sure to run it by your board or committee for approval before you kick things off.
- Nominate a ‘fundraising team’ in your group – people who enjoy it, are good at getting things done, and have good contacts in the community.
Below is a list of different fundraising options. Try to pick ones that suit your group specifically depending on your size, location, project, and what your members prefer to do (and their skills). You can choose more than one fundraising method; in fact, it’s best to have a range of options rather than just depending on one or two things.
Telling people about your group and sharing information about the cause first will also help them care and feel connected, making them more likely to want to help.
- Host an event such as a pub quiz, bake sale, clothes swap, sausage sizzle, talent show, concert, auction, street party or movie night. (Consider the logistics first: the location, cost of goods, venue hire and promotional materials, who will run it and who will collect the money.)
- Join an event – e.g. set up a stall at your local market or school fair and sell something to raise money (see below), or take part in a sports event (e.g. a triathlon) and ask for sponsors.
- Sell goods e.g. t-shirts, mugs, toys, cards or tote bags branded with your group’s details and logo if you have one (consider the cost of manufacturing items) or sell used items on Trade Me (they offer support for charities and fundraising groups).
- Offer a service – e.g. gardening, painting, rubbish collection, car wash, guided nature walks, tuition. It could be ongoing or held as a one-day-only event.
- Keep it affordable and accessible – many people want to help conservation projects and their only way of helping may be a bit of funding or an in-kind contribution (e.g. fencing or trap materials). Consider how you can reach as many people as possible; small cash contributions are just as valuable as large ones to give people a sense of enduring connection to your project.
A sponsorship is a two-way agreement where both sides receive something: usually cash for the group, although it might be resources, publicity or volunteer work. Meanwhile the person or business that sponsors you gets to be associated with your project through branding or another kind of acknowledgement.
- Ask a local business to sponsor you such as a cafe or hardware store, especially those that ‘align’ with your vision, e.g. they sell eco-friendly products. In return, you could put their logo on your promotional materials (including your website) and on equipment such as traps.
- You could also find a ‘patron’ (a well-regarded community member) or ask a local MP to sponsor you.
- When approaching a potential sponsor, have a written proposal ready: a summary of your group and project, why you think they would be a suitable sponsor, what you would need from them, and how they would benefit. (It can be a couple of pages long – and don’t forget to include your contact details!). Benefits might include team-building days on your project and an acknowledgement on your website or pamphlets.
- Once you have an agreement, keep your side of the deal. If all goes well, they may sponsor you again in the future.
- Consider in-kind offers – some businesses may not want to/be able to provide money but have valuable products you can use, either on the project itself or to raffle to raise money. Always ensure you include in-kind contributions when you are ‘valuing’ the actual costs of your project.
- Bear in mind tax deductible income – some aspects of corporate giving is tax deductible. Targeting and knowing this is really useful.
The internet offers many free or low-cost fundraising options, which can be a good way to reach people who want to donate money but are short on time.
- Create a website (common templates are WordPress or Squarespace) and/or Facebook page with a newsletter sign-up form. This is an effective way to collect email addresses and share news about your group – and also to ask for donations (however, don’t spam your mailing list). Add a ‘donate’ button to your website and link to one of the options below.
- Create an online fundraiser on Facebook and also ask members to set up birthday fundraisers (when it’s their birthday) with your group as the recipient of any donations.
- Givealittle is a New Zealand-based crowdfunding option that connects charities with people who can donate or provide other resources.
- Kickstarter (or Pledgeme in NZ) gives people a chance to support your financial goal with a one-off ‘pledge’ – what they get in return depends on the amount they donate.
- Patreon is subscription-based donation software, with the monthly amount chosen by the donor. They have advice for non-profits.
- If your group is well-established, you could offer an annual membership package (‘Friends of [group name]’) – this might include branded items (see above), invitations to members-only events, a newsletter/magazine, and other special offers.
- Or you could simply introduce membership fees for existing members to help cover the cost of resources, venue hire, etc.
- Ask similar groups what has worked or not worked for them in the past. They might have fresh ideas you hadn’t considered. We also suggest you read Dan Henry’s document from Predator Free Miramar (Wellington region) on ‘How to Kill Rats and Engage a Community’ for insights.
- Do a mail drop with a letter outlining your project and asking for donations, with a variety of payment options.
- Hire a fundraising consultant. See the Fundraising Institute of NZ website for more details.
- Legacy donations. You can ask people to bequeath money to the group when they die.
For more ideas, CommunityNet Aotearoa has a comprehensive list.
Other fundraising tips
- Donors will expect regular updates on your progress. If you communicate well and keep them in the loop (and acknowledge their contribution), they’re more likely to donate again. Getting them actively involved in your project, e.g. checking traps, clearing trap lines, planting days etc. is a great way to keep them engaged as well.
- Some fundraising options, e.g. grants, have specific criteria or only offer funds for a limited time. Make sure you read all their t&cs before applying.
- Fundraising courses are available – see the Conservation Leadership Programme.
- Keep a record of all money spent and received. See our article on financial management.