Funders on the road: visiting funded non-profits


Getting out of the office to the food banks, community hubs, and city farms you’ve funded is a great way to bring your corporate giving programme to life. Companies like Nespresso, Impact Summit, and South West Water are meeting and volunteering with the non-profits they’ve funded. We spoke with the team at South West Water to find out more.

Olivia Crisp and Simon Wilkes from the community team at South West Water say that building face to face connections with grantees is really rewarding. According to Simon Wilkes (Community Engagement Lead at South West Water), every visit brings benefits.

You get a real sense of building up that relationship, really understanding what challenges the local community’s facing, and what’s important to them. I don’t see this working any other way now!

Taking the time to get out and meet grantees (even just stopping by for a cup of tea) helps the team at South West Water to understand local community challenges and priorities. As a major local employer that information is really valuable.

For every challenge the team hears about, there’s an opportunity to support the community through pro bono programmes, team volunteering, and donations. By actively listening to and helping come up with solutions, South West Water boosts their reputation in the local area. And the team comes away with positive stories to share with colleagues from across the company.

Beyond the wave CIC – Land and Sea adventurers project

Like the sound of visiting a grantee? Dive into these 5 tips for companies that want to meet the non-profits they’ve funded:

5 Tips for funders

  1. Don’t turn up with an agenda. Simply arrive ready to connect with the community and find out more. 
  2. You think your schedule is busy? Try looking at the schedule of a community leader! Organise your visit according to when works for the non-profit leaders.
  3. Know who you’re visiting. Look up what the non-profit does and remind yourself of the project you funded before heading out to meet them.
  4. Bring your boss to show the non-profit you mean business. By getting the people with decision making power into the room you’re upping your chances of being able to act on the ideas that crop up during the visit.
  5. Take photos and notes so that you can share stories about the visit with your wider team and on social media once you’re back in the office.

It’s important to remember that an overwhelming majority of non-profits need funding more than anything else, as shown in this 2023 report. But they want volunteers too! 80% of the non-profits on ActionFunder would welcome a visit from a company that’s funded them. So, why not take a project visit to the next level and volunteer with the non-profit you’ve funded? Get in touch with the ActionFunder team to find out more about how to use the platform to fund and volunteer with community projects.

Living Options Devon – Deaf Community Hub project

What’s in it for the non-profit?

We spoke with some of the non-profit leaders who have welcomed South West Water for a visit (and a sea swim!) in recent months. When asked if they appreciated the opportunity to receive a visit from South West Water the answer was unanimous: ‘absolutely yes!’ As well as being a great opportunity to showcase their work, the non-profit leaders said the visits were a valuable chance to develop funder partnerships.

Kirsten Pybus from the Dawlish Women Walking Football Team says:

I highly recommend organising a funder visit. It is a mutually beneficial event. We were able to show our gratitude personally and South West Water were able to see for themselves how important their funding was for us, and the difference it has made.

Is your funder asking to visit your project? Get 5 tips from the community below:

5 Tips for non-profits

  1. Be responsive. Answer emails and calls as promptly as possible to secure a visit.
  2. Ask questions. Find out more about why the funder is running a community fund and how else they might like to support you.

    During the day we talked about our Corporate Nurture Day events and how this supports our work by reducing financial barriers; which has led to South West Water booking a Team Nurture Day with us. – Lucy Green from Beyond The Wave CIC

  3. Communicate your passion! Passion is best communicated face to face so share why you do the work you do and its impact on the local community.
  4. Don’t worry about showing your best side. Funders want to see what you do, not a dressed up version of your non-profit. Simply chat over a cup of tea, give a tour of your premises, bring the funder along on your daily activities, or ask them to join an upcoming event.
  5. If you don’t ask you don’t get. So, don’t shy away from asking the funder if they’re open to supporting more of what you do. Visits occasionally result in more support , whether goods in kind, volunteer hours, pro bono work, or funding.

The funders have a better idea of what you are doing and so can build a better relationship with your work. – Fiona Hirons from The Hope Hub

Time to get out on the road!

A visit to a community project brings clear benefits to funders and non-profits alike. With the right mindset, a few hours spent face-to-face, talking about the project that’s been funded will result in a deeper and more valuable partnership. There’s nothing stopping you. Reach out today and get the ball rolling!

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