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2013: The British Science Association's first fundrasing strategy for Branches is launched!

Message from the CEO

I shall soon be leaving the British Science Association after 10 fascinating years and I wanted to take this opportunity to thank all our volunteers for the huge amount of work you have all done during this time in leading and developing Branch activity around the country and helping the Association advance its mission.

As an Association we have always aimed to support our Branches in any way we can, to strengthen our local presence around the UK and increase our collective range of activity. Funding is often a limiting step to realising this, and the Association is introducing its first fundraising strategy for Branches to help address this challenge.  The new strategy aims to provide training and support for Branch members and ultimately raise funds for the benefit of Branches.

Successful fundraising activity by Branches should produce significant benefits such as the ability to reach a much wider audience, better plan and increase future Branch activity, increase Branches’ independence from Head Office, recruit new volunteers, develop further skills and links with local organisations - therefore strengthening  presence in the local area and our overall impact.

I wish you all the best with this new challenge, supported by staff in London and regionally, and I am confident that it will be a great success.

Yours sincerely,

Roland Jackson

 2013: Our first fundraising strategy for Branches is launched!  

What does this mean for Branches?

The new strategy will be a new way of working in order for Branches to become more self-sustaining and less dependent on central funds. Increased fundraising activity means increased income for the Branch but it also translates in additional non-financial benefits – therefore having a positive impact even if your Branch does not currently need funding. Greater income will enable your Branch to widen its range of activities throughout the year, choose freely how to spend funds and avoid becoming over reliant on only a few sources of funds.   In addition, we will see new benefits as follows:

  • Branches will better plan their budget and activities;
  • increased and diversified fundraising activity will increase publicity and help your Branch raise its profile among a wider audience, recruit more volunteers, and reach other local organisations and potential donors;
  • volunteers will develop new skills;
  • resulting increased online activity will facilitate networking with other organisations and other Branches, it will help you reach groups that would be hard to reach otherwise, and gain greater and free publicity. In particular, online shopping will offer you an effort - and cost-free way to donate to your designated Branch.

What’s new?

(Please not that changes to the original strategy below were made following a survey performed in March/April 2013 and based on volunteers' feedback. The two rounds of strategic grants have been restored and fundraising activity is no longer a Branch requirement read more)

The success of the new strategy relies on our Branch volunteers and we would like to thank you all once again for the amazing help that you have offered so far! We realise that each Branch has their own needs and characteristics. Head Office and Regional Officers will support you throughout the process by helping you identify local potential donors, by providing on-going assistance, supervision, general ideas, information and material, and by helping you identify the most suitable type of fundraising activity for your Branch.

  • The two rounds of strategic grants will be reduced to one round per year (£1000 will be available in total, £200 per each grant).
  • A new capped match funding scheme will be introduced and a total pot of £1500 will become available for a maximum of 6 Branches per year.  This pot will be available throughout the whole year and you will be able to apply whenever necessary, without being tied to a specific deadline. Amounts raised through your Branch’s fundraising activity will be matched by the Association up to a certain sum.
  • The National Science & Engineering Week grant scheme will remain the same.
  • From 2014 onwards, Branches will be encouraged to actively seek funding and undertake at least one fundraising activity per year.
  • Fundraising training - delivered by external consultants - is planned in the very near future. This will allow you to acquire general and essential fundraising knowledge and skills to pass on to fellow volunteers and will give you an invaluable opportunity to improve your CV.
  • A new fundraising guide will be published.   
  • A new list of companies/grants in your local area will be available for Branches.
  • More active Branches will be encouraged to recruit a volunteer fundraising coordinator who will take the lead in supervising Branch fundraising activity.
  • In order to make fundraising activity easier and more cohesive, you will be encouraged to increasingly communicate with Head Office and your Regional Officer. To make this task even easier, a revised version of our quarterly reports – which now includes a specific fundraising area – has recently been introduced.

Building on our success

We want to encourage Branches to build on our past successes and perform even more rewarding fundraising activity. Some of our Branches have already performed successful fundraising activity which has focused on funding from corporates, trusts and science organisations. For example:  

  • Science London received funding from The Hargrave Foundation and the Public Engagement Scheme (IOP);
  • the Tayside and Fife Branch has obtained funding from a number of donors, including: a group of local investment bankers; BP; the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation; the Royal Society of Chemistry; the Leng Charitable Trust; and the Institute of Physics;
  • the Bristol and Bath Branch were successful in obtaining funds from the Heritage Lottery Fund and also recently received (2013) a donation from Toshiba Research Europe Ltd who decided to support their Café Scientifiques;
  • the Thames Valley Branch has recently received donations from a number of local companies (including Peprotech, Fisher, and Eppendorf) for an art exhibition which is part of Reading Science Week 2013;
  • the West Scotland Branch has recently obtained a £4000 grant from the Scottish Government to run a pop-up mini science festival in Crianlarich in May 2013.

Some Branches have already started to diversify their fundraising activity by employing additional simple fundraising techniques. For example, in the recently launched easyfundraising scheme, the Thames Valley Branch has already raised over £40 in a very short timeframe and other groups – including the Oxford, London and Bristol&Bath Branches – are also achieving good results. Other Branches have also been collecting donations during their events.  

New fundraising ideas

Fundraising can be FUN and can be as easy as simply collecting donations during your events or signing up yourself - or regular event attendees - to our easyfundraising  online shopping scheme.   In addition to more traditional fundraising techniques including trust/foundations and corporate fundraising, we are introducing a number of new schemes. There will be plenty of options for you to choose from and something for everyone, including:

  • Sport fundraising challenges for the most adventurous and fit and who feel like raising funds while running a marathon, trekking or cycling;
  • community and event fundraising for those who love their networking and social events;
  • nation-wide Branch challenges for those who want to get in touch with other Branches all over the country;
  • raffles and donations - one of the most effective and least resource demanding ways to fundraise;
  • online fundraising for those who love their shopping from the comfort of their home;
  • recycling schemes for the most environment friendly ones…and for a very productive way to dispose of your old cartridges, DVDs and mobile phones!

Your opinion counts!

We want to know your opinion about the new strategy, answer your questions, address any concerns and hear about your exciting new fundraising ideas. Therefore we will be performing two very short surveys throughout the year and we hope that you will all take part!


I want to know more, who can I contact? Please get in touch with your Regional Officer or the Regional Fundraising and Support Officer - Giulia De Matteis - at giulia.dematteis@britishscienceassociation.org  

THANK YOU! We would like to thank you all for your help and for the enthusiasm and support that you always show – it would be really hard to successfully advance our mission around the country without the invaluable contribution of our Branches. We wish you all the best and look forward to hearing some exciting news from you!

The Regional Team


Fundraising strategy for branches: Frequently asked questions

In what ways are we expected to fundraise?

In what ways are we expected to fundraise?

We know that all Branches are different and they all have different resources and needs. Fundraising can be very easy and fun and you don’t need to start big. You can choose whichever option(s) you think is/are best for your Branch and even propose new methods! You can decide to apply to trusts/foundations and corporates, join our designated online shopping scheme, take part in a sport challenge, recycle your old cartridges, sell raffle tickets, collect donations or charge a free donation for entry/consumption of food or drinks during your events. You will not need to change the format of your traditional events, if this is not something you feel comfortable doing. Please always make sure that you inform your Regional Officer of any fundraising activity that you will undertake or donations that you receive, and always fill in the new fundraising section of our revised quarterly report.

Will Head Office still be providing grants?

Yes. There will still be two rounds of strategic grants per year (£2000 will be available in total, £250 per each grant) and NSEW grants (£400 each) will remain untouched. Branches undertaking fundraising activity will also be eligible to apply for capped matched funding (up to £250) throughout the year and a total pot of £1500 will be made available. Branches that received a strategic grant in the previous 12 months can still apply for matched funding but not for the same project.  

We run cost-free events and don’t need to fundraise, are we still expected to do this?

NO. Branches are NOT required to fundraise althought this would help them become more financially sustainable and it would generate a number of additional benefits. We will in fact encourage all Branches to actively seek external funding and undertake fundraising activity - but fundrasing will NOT be a branch requirement. 

Increased fundrasing activity would allow Branches to build some reserves for the future, plan their activity in the long term, recruit more volunteers, raise their profile, create links with other organisations, and possibly enlarge the range of activities that they normally undertake. Your Branch can fundraise by simply collecting donations during events or by encouraging members and supporters to sign up to easyfundraising. By performing fundraising activity, your Branch will be eligible to apply for capped matched funding and will profit from the numerous non-financial benefits deriving from increased fundraising activity including team building, acquiring new skills, networking and publicity.

We are all volunteers and we don’t have anyone with any fundraising experience, what should we do? What type of support will we receive from Regional Officers?

We are here to help, you are not on your own! In addition to the fundraising guide and training received from Head Office, Regional Officers will always be there to help you and assist you each step of the way and mini-training sessions will be provided in your area if needed. Regional Officers will be happy to answer any questions, provide you with material and information, or simply have a chat and suggest new ideas, so please feel free to send them an email or give them a call. Some types of fundraising activities are more time-consuming and more resources-demanding than others, whereas other types can be as easy as just collecting donations during events or adding a donation to the final price of the ticket (if you charge an entrance fee or serve drinks and food). There is a wide range of activities that you can choose from and you will always be able to choose the one that best matches your Branch’s resources/characteristics and financial and non-financial goals.

How do we recruit a fundraising coordinator?

Recruiting a volunteer fundraising coordinator will NOT be a Branch requirement although this would greatly help your Branch and it would assist you plan, lead and deliver fundraising activity. A specific role description is available from Head Office so please get in touch with your Regional Officer if you think your Branch might benefit from recruiting a Volunteer Fundrasing Coordiantor. You can circulate the job descrition among your supporters and even advertise it on the local media and volunteer centres or mention it on your FB, Twitter or during your events.

Are there any legally binding rules that we need to know?

Yes, when you perform any type of fundraising activity, you will need to ensure that this complies with current regulations. You will find information in the fundraising booklet that will be distributed to all Branches and this topic will also be covered during the training session. Furthermore, you can always refer to your Regional Officer or directly to the Regional Fundrasing and Support Officer at giulia.dematteis@britishscienceassociation.org  

Can more than one Branch member attend the fundraising training?

This will depend on budget, but we aim to have at least two members of each Branch attending the training. Ideally those who attend will train fellow volunteers in the future.

Who will keep the proceeds of fundraising: the Branch, Head Office or will we split?

The new fundraising strategy was designed to encourage Branches to become more independent from central funds and extend their reach by organising diversified activity. Branches will only be fundraising for themselves and none of the funds raised will be kept by the Association. Here is an example: as part of our agreement with easyfundraising and in light of their referral scheme, HQ receives a 20% donation based on funds raised by Branches. We would be entitled to keep the funds centrally but we want to reward our Branches for making an effort to fundraise. Therefore, we have decided that the additional donation will be redistributed to all participating Branches based on their performance.