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Funding Diversification: QAHN Launches New DREAM Project!

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--September 28, 2016.

We’ve all heard the words, but who heeds the advice?

The financial health of Quebec community groups – including those active in heritage and culture – would be a whole lot brighter if ordinary people could be persuaded to give just a little bit more.

Or, to use the current parlance of public funding agencies, if charities and non-profits would somehow manage to diversify the sources of their revenue.

The problem is many groups already feel ill-equipped to carry out what most regard as the loathsome chore of raising money, whether it’s applying for government grants, seeking corporate sponsors or creating special events.

“There’s no doubt, fundraising is hard work,” said Dwane Wilkin, projects director with the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network (QAHN). “But there is also a perception that the effort outweighs the reward. I think that’s taking too narrow a view of what it means to succeed.”

Wilkin and his colleague Heather Darch recently began conducting a survey of non-profits across English Quebec to learn how different approaches to fundraising can influence the community sector’s overall financial fitness. The online Community Fundraising Survey is part of QAHN’s new project aimed at stimulating greater charitable giving and community engagement, called Diversifying Resources to Ensure the Advancement of Mission (DREAM). The 15-month long initiative has been supported with a grant of $123,000 from the Department of Canadian Heritage.

“Anyone working with a community group that involves or serves English-speaking Quebecers is encouraged to share their views and experiences,” said Wilkin. The survey contains 13 questions and should take between 15 and 20 minutes to complete.

Responses will be used by QAHN to develop learning tools and training events for volunteer fundraisers attending the DREAM regional conference series in 2017.

Finding innovative ways to attract new donors in support of local heritage and culture is a particular challenge for small museums, historical societies and arts groups. Many operate outside of major urban centres and face significant barriers to public funding at the best of times. Reducing services may be their only way to adjust to a sudden economic downturn or change in government funding priorities.

Early responses to QAHN’s fundraising survey shows that there is a strong appetite for practical ideas that might help groups avoid the risk that comes with dependence on just one or two big donors.

“Some groups are telling us they need more private donations, some would like greater municipal support. Some have quite a lot of experience doing more traditional fundraising, but they’re reluctant to adopt new techniques, such as crowd-funding. Others have created successful events in the past, but would like to try something new and are looking for inspiration,” Wilkin said. “These are the issues we’ll be exploring in the DREAM conferences.”

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If you would like to receive notice of upcoming conference dates from QAHN, please send an email to Dwane Wilkin at dwane@qahn.org. Or call toll-free 1-877964-0409. Add your voice by taking the Community Fundraising Survey.