Sean Tully

“The most important skills to make fundraising successful are research and communication.”


Many roles, one thread. That’s a good description of my work – both with Action Planning and alongside. These roles include (in no particular order) bid-writer, proof-reader, researcher, relationship-builder, trainer, blogger (sort of), administrator, problem-solver…and probably more besides.

So the idea of an ‘average day’ is slightly alien, but held together by that golden thread: 90%+ of my work helps churches and Christian charities to resource their mission.

With Action Planning this means coordinating the Church Capital Appeals work; helping churches to work out how they will raise the funds they need to undertake a building project – whether that’s renovation, reordering, restoration or new-build. This is never as simple as telling them where the money will come from, or how to raise the funds from other sources. Pretty much always it means helping them to identify the wealth of support that already exists within their congregation and community, and to communicate their vision in such a way as to inspire and attract generosity and philanthropy.

This work includes delivering one-day workshops so that those responsible in their church for the building project can learn (in a safe environment) how to apply very practical tools to maximise the funding potential. It sometimes includes researching grant opportunities and drafting Case for Support materials. It often includes visiting churches and talking to those involved about their hopes/fears/expectations and working with them to identify what’s possible and how to get there.

Part of my working week is in the role of Trusts Manager with the charity Cinnamon Network. I oversee the grants fundraising within a supportive team that understands the key ingredients for success: a patient, methodical approach, underpinned by a culture of whole-organisation fundraising and inspired by a clear vision for change. Cinnamon Network is a champion and resource for church-led social action in the UK, working in partnership with around 35 Christian social franchise charities in order to make it as easy as possible for any church of any size to meet the most pressing needs of people in their communities.

I’m also a volunteer Trustee with Hope Nottingham, which coordinates 15 foodbanks across my home city and runs a local resource centre that offers welcome, community, food, training, support, and… hope to anyone who cannot find these things elsewhere.

The most common need I come across in all these contexts is a need for help with fundraising as a means of solving a problem – a need to address an issue in a community, or a need to fix a building, or a need to realise a vision. The most important skills to make fundraising successful are research and communication.

Put simply, fundraising is asking the right people for the right thing at the right time and in the right way. Oh, and being resilient when they sometimes say “no”.

It’s a fact that if you can’t communicate well you can’t fundraise well. And without research to show you who are the right people, what is the right thing, when is the right time and what is the right way, your communication with miss the mark.

Action Planning can help you with all of these things and more. We offer multi-disciplinary support delivered by associates with the right skills. We understand the sector, we’ve honed our skills, we’ve been where you are and we’re ready to help you move forward.

The answer's yes.

What's the question?

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