We thought it's a great time to share a good news fundraising story.
Lyndsey McLellan from ASSIST Sheffield attended our Is for me?... Making the Ask: Making the Move training session in July 2019.
Bianca King-Smith, SYFAB Training Manager, talked to Lyndsey to find out what happened after the session…
Before attending the SYFAB Training session ‘Is for me?... Making the Ask: Making the Move’ had you (Lyndsey) or ASSIST Sheffield approached businesses before?
No, we have worked with businesses that have approached us and very occasionally might have asked for support with raffle prizes but nothing beyond that.
What was your motivation for attending the training session?
Wanting to gain a bit more confidence in talking to businesses. Also, sessions like this are good for making you think about something without the distractions of the phone and email.
Why did ASSIST Sheffield decide to approach businesses?
We put together a fundraising plan last year after attending the SYFAB Training session Diversify your income in June 2019. We looked at all our income streams and how we could develop them. This area seemed to be one we didn’t have a lot of experience in so decided to find out more. In the last couple of years, the number of houses we run has increased quite quickly and with each house a new set of bills needs to be paid each year. Also, for me personally, I am the only one at ASSIST solely focusing on fundraising. I’ve been at ASSIST for 4 years and I wanted a new challenge.
You said that the thinking for your ‘Lunch and Learn’ event and ‘sponsor a room’ idea happened as a result of attending the ‘Is for me?... Making the Ask: Making the Move’ in 2019. How did attending the session inspire you?
I used to work for a Community Food organisation in Edinburgh and there we used to go into businesses at lunchtime to talk about healthy eating and it was something that I really enjoyed. While I was at the session, I thought why not try the same but talk about asylum destitution. The Sponsor a Room campaign was an idea I had at another SYFAB training session, Social Media Strategy Master Class, which I attended in May 2019. It seemed to make sense to include businesses in the campaign when we were putting it together.
After the session how did you put into action your ideas?
I mentioned the idea to Sheffield Businesses together and they help us advertise the initiative. I worked with Sheffield university volunteering department to get a bit more support in the office.
How did it feel to approach a business?
Well luckily once the advert was put out there, I was contacted by someone at ARUP who turned out to be a friend of an ASSIST volunteer. He was then able to offer a venue and food and help us advertise to other local businesses. Once we’d found the contact it was straight forward.
Was there anything you had to do that you didn’t expect when approaching a business?
They seem very interested in the personal individual story rather than the broader context of why this is happening to people and the scale it’s happening at. I sort of knew this was probably the case before but maybe wasn’t quite prepared enough.
Did anything surprise you when approaching a business?
Even though they wear suits they are still super friendly!
How long did the whole process take, from planning out your idea to ‘making the ask’?
4 months from planning and advertising the talk. It’s not finished yet though. I still have contact with a couple of the businesses.
Why do you think you were successful ‘making the ask’?
It was quite a broad ask and we were offering something rather than asking for something.
What advice would you give to other groups thinking about diversifying their income and trying something new?
Go for it! If it doesn’t work, learn from it and try again.
Is there anything else you would like to tell us that may be useful to other groups?
Get in touch with Sheffield Business together. They have some great events and ideas. Make time for training, it really does get you thinking.
Do you think SYFAB has helped ASSIST Sheffield to diversify its income and help you to successfully approach businesses for support?
Yes. It’s given me confidence and made me think harder about approaches I make. There is still a long way to go but we are better set up to make approaches now and it’s included in our fundraising plan for the years ahead.
To find out more about ASSIST Sheffield, and the work they do, please visit their website here.
To find out more about any of the fundraising training sessions at SYFAB, please visit our Training and Events page here.
If you have been inspired after one of our training sessions to tackle your fundraising, or maybe to try accessing a different funding source, we would love to hear from you. Our ‘What happened next…’ series aims to share good fundraising news and share tips on how groups achieved their fundraising successes.