4 Things We Can Learn From Small Charity Fundraisers

Small Charity Conference

Smaller charities are the heart of communities across the UK that keep tummies full, families connected, and kids playing.

And during the pandemic and continuous lockdowns, it was smaller charities that used their networks and reach to support people in their communities that were cut off, isolated, or at risk.

They keep the country moving and should be applauded for everything they do.

When we’re putting together webinars or virtual events on Fundraising Everywhere we see small charities as an excellent source of insight for the wider sector. Sure, they might not have the big teams or big budgets to do all of the flashy digital things but there are plenty of ways they’re amazing at the fundraising fundamentals.

They are small yet mighty.

Here are just four reasons that small teams and budgets help small charities play big when it comes to fundraising – and what we can all learn from them.

1. They move and pivot fast

Thanks to smaller teams and increased trust in colleagues from closer working relationships, small charity fundraisers are the best at making decisions fast and getting the most out of an opportunity.

In 2018, Tiny Tickers spotted a PR opportunity on LinkedIn with an ad agency wanting to work with a heart charity. Within an hour the decision had been made to partner up and twelve days later their campaign went live with a Christmas light switch on in their local town. It raised an extra £3,000, reached new audiences including international, and won awards – all before the bigger charities had received all of the input they needed internally for sign-off.

I’m not saying you should keep your staff numbers low, but there is a lot to learn here about the internal processes we have and whether they’re the right ones for fundraising. Review your processes with quick, informed decisions being your top priority.

2. They are connected to the community around them

Smaller charities have the benefit of working in the community and meeting with the people they exist for every day. Everyone from the receptionist to the CEO is able to talk to people impacted by the cause and share what they’ve learned with the wider team.

During my time at St Oswald’s Hospice this connection was key and many fundraising opportunities came from the visibility we had in the local community and the familiarity that came with it. Whether it was invite to feature at a fair or an opportunity to pitch to a local corporate, having a face for the brand meant we were front of mind for DIY fundraisers looking to work more closely with the charity.

If you want to improve your connection to your local community, join local Facebook, networking and corporate groups to hear first hand about what matters most to the people who live where you work.

3. They have powerful stories to share

It’s also because of this more direct connection with the community that small charity fundraisers are some of the best storytellers you can ever meet.

Through their increased interaction with beneficiaries and front-line staff, collecting and understanding stories is an every day occurrence that means they’re equipped for those, ‘tell me what you do?’ moments.

A few ways you can improve your storytelling is to create more opportunities to talk to front-line staff, start a diary of stories you hear in the news or updates to share with supporters, or seek out your own using these interview questions created by copywriter, Jen Love.

  1. What was your life like before being involved with our charity?
  2. Think about someone who has helped you, how did it make you feel?
  3. Tell me about your life now.

Three storytelling interview Qs by Jen Love: 1. What was your life like before being involved with our charity? 2. Think about someone who has helped you, how did it make you feel? 3. Tell me about your life now.

4.They are brilliant at stewardship

And finally, small charity fundraisers are great at stewardship.

Because of their direct contact with supporters and beneficiaries, their empathy and connection to the people who make it happen means they will do almost anything to remind them that they’re appreciated.

Viki Hayden-Ward regularly hand-writes her appeals, thank you letters and Christmas cards as a way to connect with supporters and humanise the organisation – and with great results. Her 2020 hand-written campaign resulted in an 86% response rate from donors and an increase on 2020’s fundraising.


If you want to connect more with donors, implement small and interactive ways to stay connected that go beyond digital comms. Pick up the phone, write a postcard, or make the most of our increased virtual world and arrange a video call with key supporters you’ve not checked in with for a while.

You’re invited! Join us at Small Charity Legends

We’ll be celebrating, upskilling, and platforming small charities at the Small Charity Legends virtual summit on 7th July 2021. The first 35 JustGiving blog readers to sign up using discount code FIRST35 will get a free ticket, and after that you can use it to claim a 50% discount!

Join us for two-hours of jam-packed sessions designed specifically to what small charities have told us they need, including maximising resource, coping as a solo fundraiser, and growing digital fundraising from scratch. 

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Nikki is the co-founder of Fundraising Everywhere and Everywhere+, featured in 2021's Digital Womxn to Watch, and an international speaker about building innovative and inclusive teams.