Speaking notes - Hilary Garner, Love Kingston

Speaking notes from Learning from London's Giving event - 24th February 2015

Speaking notes – Learning from London’s Giving event 24th February 2015
Hilary Garner, Love Kingston

Love Kingston was launched in late 2012 to bring new sources of funding into the borough, and we just held our 3rd Love Kingston Day on February 14th.

We’ve raised £300,000 for the local community to date, have a further £20,000 in the pipeline and are aiming to grow this pot by at least £100,000 a year. It’s been a really exciting venture, underpinned by a strong partnership between Kingston Voluntary Action and The London Community Foundation and led by Elaine, our brilliant fundraiser.

We know we have a long way to go, but I’m going to share some of our learning to date with you. These are the things that I think have been key our success:

a. We started with a strong, trusting partnership that has remained and grown. Kingston Voluntary Action which it’s local knowledge, rooted in the borough and well respected by the community alongside The London Community Foundation, with an established infrastructure for borough level initiatives, existing borough funds, significant grantmaking expertise and a history of raising funds from private and public sectors. We have also built knowledge with our local authority, who fund our core costs.

b. We agreed a market and a product – this had to start with community driven fundraising.  Kingston does not have any established independent local trusts (hence the extra need for our work) and equally we wanted the initiative to feel like it really belonged to the borough’s people - we would aim our fundraising at individuals and companies in the borough, not at trying to secure trust funding from within or outside of the borough. This meant that the product had to be simple and easy to understand – something that would engage people, their hearts, minds and wallets! We needed to give people a strong sense of where there money was going and how it was being used. We also wanted to build something for the future.

Love Kingston was structured therefore to have

  1. 50% of money going to 5 projects covering the theme of Pathways out of Poverty
  2. 50% going into an endowment fund which LCF was able to match by 50% until this year.

We also incorporate an option for bigger donors to have their own pot for Kingston. LCF runs Donor Advised Funds for a wide range of donors and through Love Kingston, they can have one at LCF just for the borough.

c.       Then the next really crucial thing – the lead person. LCF was responsible for recruiting and employing a Senior Fundraiser to work on the initiative – people give to people, so we needed to find someone that people would give to. We were incredibly lucky to get Elaine Miller who has been employed for 2-3 days a week over the past few years and has been involved from the early days of designing the product to leading it now into a really vibrant and successful campaign in the borough. Getting the right person has been the key success factor. In Elaine we have so many strengths, pulling on just a few:

  1. Experience of major donor and community fundraising
  2. Personality that makes people want to give – she’s very difficult to say not to!
  3. Energy, passion and commitment to the cause
  4. Strong local connections
  5. And we have also benefitted massively from the fact that she volunteers much of her time in addition to the paid work.

My advice to others setting up a local giving programme is to be tenacious, and be prepared to be continually modeling and tweaking as you learn and develop.

For more information about Love Kingston visit the Love Kingston website