Fundraising on a Budget

23rd January, 2023

To see all the Rebuilding Heritage fundraising resources click here.


Let’s start by stating an obvious fact: it costs money to raise money!

All fundraising needs a budget, yet it’s often stated that organisations need to spend as little as possible in order to raise as much as they can. But turn it around: sometimes, spending more means that you can raise significantly more.

By investing in fundraising, the return on investment (i.e. how much you get back for every pound you spend) can be significantly higher.

Having a Strategy for Low-Cost Fundraising

Not having a strategy means that fundraising activities happen in isolation, often concentrating on quick wins rather than planning what else you can achieve from the activity.

Take donors and supporters on a journey so that they have a good experience. This helps you to secure their support and involvement for the long term, not just a one-off gift. Also by looking at things strategically, activities can be planned that may only just break even from a monetary perspective, but which will recruit you many new supporters. These supporters, in turn, will go on to give you cash and long-term support. Opportunities like this are easily overlooked if you are just looking for quick wins.

15 Top Tips

With this in mind, here are 15 tips, in no particular order, to help you fundraise on a shoe-string!

1. Understand the cost-effectiveness of different activities so that you can set realistic targets for what you can raise.

2. Know who your target audiences are, their motivations and the best way to communicate and engage with them – starting with your existing supporters.

3. Make the most of social media as a way to engage, raise awareness that you need cash and share how people and organisations can help you. The great advantage of this is that it’s totally free (on the whole).

4. Develop meaningful relationships with donors, funders and supporters rather than just treat them as an ATM, only going to them when you need cash.

5. Return to past supporters, update them and ask again – if you don’t ask, they will think that you have all you need (but don’t ask too often and do give them choices about how they can support).

6. Check out freebies – e.g. many funding databases that charge let you have a free ‘trial’ first. Make sure you tap into the free ones too.

7. Make the most of volunteers for fundraising, maximising on limited resources, as well as encouraging people and organisations to fundraise in aid of your organisation.

8. Establish a fundraising group/board that gets involved on a regular basis.

9. Check out what others are doing and how effective it is in terms of raising money and then ‘borrow’ their ideas (be aware of any copyright issues, etc.)

10. Ask existing trusts or corporate supporters to introduce you to another as this will increase your chance of success.

11. Aim to cover some of your fundraising expenditure by sponsorship so that more income turns into profit – basically a contribution to your charity.

12. Don’t try to spread yourself too thinly taking on too many activities, but don’t have all your eggs in one basket!

13. Set multiple objectives for each fundraising activity you are involved in, so you’re squeezing every last drop out of it, enhancing the cost-effectiveness of your initial time and financial investment.

14. Don’t just concentrate on ‘quick wins’ but also think about longer-term gains. For example, you can’t just start marketing legacy giving and expect a return in the next 12 months, but the longer you put off being proactive, the longer it will be before you will see results.

15. Have a balance of unrestricted and restricted income.


Remember, look for the things that people do anyway and try to piggyback on them. Register for everything you can so that it raises your profile and awareness around the fact that you need support, as well as helping to fill the coffers!

Above all, make it easy for people to support you, whether it’s using a QR code in your car parks or a contactless donation box on reception.


This article was written by Gill Jolly (of Achive Consultants Ltd.) on behalf of The Chartered Institute of Fundraising for the Rebuilding Heritage training programme.

Stock images from Pixabay.

More Resources

Sign up to our mailing list

If you would like to receive updates on the Rebuilding Heritage programme, please sign up for our mailing list