Have you got a great idea for a social enterprise but you’re being held back due to lack of finance, or maybe you’ve begun your venture and you want to take things further? This recipe may help if you need to create a good impression to attract funders. Also don’t miss our recipe: “Funding a social enterprise” to show you where to go for funding.
Serves – any social enterprise or charity
Preparation – time taken to prepare your social enterprise vision
Time taken – from seven days upwards
- Business Plan
- Written Application
- First, take your Business Plan (if you haven’t got one, see our Recipe; preparing a Business Plan, or get in touch as we can help). Your Plan should set out how your priorities over the next 1-3 years. The Plan should contain evidence of the need, and the gap in the market you are addressing, and how your particular approach will fill this gap, together with your projected income and expenditure. As your venture develops, the Plan may need to be tweaked, but having all this written down helps to convince funders that you are not working on blind faith (!) Also it helps firm up your own thoughts on how to proceed.
- Use networking. The key skill here is less about establishing what you need from others, it’s more about working out what others might need from you. Great networkers are as generous to others as they hope others might be to them, that way they build productive relationships. Use a mixture of online social networking and face to face meetings. Always be on the lookout for events, trade shows and meetings to build your network.
- Use these networks to help you punch above your weight as an organisation, by building your profile and credibility; having a profile helps a funder to feel more confident about you. Think about how you can generate media and social media interest in your work and if possible use the stories of the people you are helping through your venture.
- Having built a relationship, the next step is to sell your organisation, your mission and your plans. This might take the form of an informal chat, an extension of your networking, or it might require a formal pitch to the funder or their representatives, or you may be asked to make a written application (or all three of these).
- Of course, in some cases you may be asked to make a written application without being given the opportunity to network or pitch to the funder; but if you can find any way of having a preliminary discussion with the funder face to face or online that may well help your chances.
- Whether the format is by means of a meeting or a written application it’s vital to show familiarity with every aspect of your Business Plan, be honest about what you are offering and what you want, and have the right attitude. Accept that your organisation doesn’t have the right to exist. From here, the right attitude involves a level of enthusiasm and enjoyment. Funders can detect this – it inspires them. They like individuals and organisations that present themselves in a positive and compelling way.