About a month or so ago, we welcomed the Cronulla Sharks as one of our newest fundraising partners. They are just beginning their fundraising journey and have some exciting fundraising plans underway. With new organisations signing up with us daily, we wanted to explore the journey that takes place in preparing an organisation for fundraising.
We spoke to Jonathan Prosser, Sharks Group GM – Strategy and Business Development, to get some of the inside goss on what it is like launching a fundraising program or campaign and some of the most important aspects to consider when doing so.
Finding your why- It is crucial to decide what you are raising funds for, but equally important is being able to describe why. Jonathan tells us: you can have a laundry list of things that you need, ‘I need some new equipment, I need a new facility’, that sounds great but why?
Fundraising can be competitive, I can walk down the street and be asked by numerous charities for $10, which can be a pretty expensive week if I say yes to everything. It is all about why is this particular charity important? Who is going to get my $10? You need to be really clear on WHY your project is important.
ASF: So Jonathan, what you are raising funds for and why?
JP: The sharks have a real benchmark community program, I think in our sport we do this quite differenlty. We have formed 4 pillars as the core of our foundation: Building Healthy Communities, Our Heart, Developing People, and Elite Performance.
Our community program is focused on creating a bullying free community. This is something we are really excited about, as it supports not only our kids today but when they have their own children in years to come, we will achieve a change in their generation, a lasting change, not just a short term impact. It is about resilience and standing up for each other as a community. We want to use our sport to inspire people through our heroes and getting them to understand the importance of being fit and healthy not only in NRL but in whatever sport you play and whatever you do in life.
With building our people, very often our players, and professional men and women from all team sports, find that the first two years out of the game are the hardest, possibly of the player’s life. The key is to get our players thinking ahead before they reach the end of their NRL careers, and provide them with the support and tools to plan ahead for a fulfilling career when they hang up their boots. It is very hard for anyone to think about a second career while they are in the thick of their current career, so this is where our welfare and education programs will provide the support that is needed.
Mental health has been a point of discussion for the NRL in recent media and we don’t want any of our guys to battle with those issues, we want to create the right environment so they can thrive and be really happy and fulfilled, and healthy both physically and mentally.”
ASF: Why fundraise with the ASF? What do you aim to achieve through our partnership?
JP: We have had a community program prior to partnering with the ASF but the scale and the impact this program can have for our players and the wider community will only be improved with the amount of money we can raise, and the ASF is an avenue we believe will provide us with more opportunities to raise those funds, so that we can take our social impact to a whole other level.
Continuity and support from stakeholders- Fundraising is a team effort. Support from stake holders will benefit you in the short and long term. In the short term, supporting stakeholders can help spread the word of your fundraising efforts, donate time, and share potential ideas for fundraising plans. In the long term, supporters can be used for networking, promotional content, as guests at events etc. It is vital that all stakeholders have continuity in their understanding of why you are fundraising so you can all work together towards the one fundraising goal.
ASF: Was it hard to get all your stakeholders and committee members working together on what to fundraise for?
JP: We have spent a lot of time working out all the ways that we can play a positive role in our community and be a vehicle for social change in our community and beyond. Some of it is what we already doing but would like to do better or on a bigger scale. Others, such as ‘our people’ pillar are still in their infancy. With ‘Our Heart’ we want to be able to offer the help if and when our community ask for it, such as fundraising for Kurt Drysdale, a former Sharks Junior player, who was sadly injured playing in the Sydney Shield and left paralysed.
One we got to those four pillars through a collaborative process involving the CEO, the Board, and many others in our organisation, from asking the question ‘how can we do more’, everyone was very aligned on our objectives and fully supportive. Our Board have been hugely positive and are playing a key role in the launch of our Foundation. This is key to who we are.
Rolling out the plan in stages- The Sharks have a long term plan to incorporate giving through membership, regular giving, community giving, bequests and a founders club, however, they do not plan to launch these all at the same time. Each option will require lots of planning, time and effort. The Sharks have defined a phased approach to the launch of their Sharks Have Heart Foundation, so that they can test the water with friends of the club first, see what works and what doesn’t, and slowly add more additions to the fundraising strategy. We suggest that all of our partners choose one fundraising option to begin with, concentrate all your efforts on making this a success before you include additional options.
ASF: How and who do you plan to ask to become part of your Sharks Founders Club?
JP: Our board members to get in contact with their warm networks , done over several cups of coffee, to allow them to get into the detail on specific projects and to say ‘this is what Sharks Have Heart is all about and these are our four pillars are, this is what we are passionate about and this is what we want your help.
ASF: Do you have any advice for other partners currently launching their project?
JP: Hard work. The more work you put in up front, the more iterations you do on your wording, the more planning that you do, the more of your trusted peers, friends and colleagues you get to give it a once over, let them make their queries, listen when the tell you they don’t like some bits or that they love others, the more compelling your words will be, and the more motivated your potential donors will be.
There is no substitute for hard work. The more you put in up front, the more you will get out down the line.
Passion. Never forget why you are passionate about your project, I think if you can tell anyone about that passion, people sit up straight and listen.
We will speak to Jonathan again in a few months and see how fundraising for the Sharks Have Heart Foundation is going at a later stage of their fundraising journey.
View the Sharks project here.