How Birmingham Children’s Hospital reignited its Big Bandage campaign

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How Birmingham Children’s Hospital reignited its Big Bandage campaign

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The Big Bandage campaign made a successful debut in 2006, but didn’t appear again until 2014. Vikki Savery explains how they brought it back.

The Big Bandage campaign was originally conceived in 2005 while we were trying to come up with a new fundraising activity that was closely aligned with the hospital, and that was inclusive and easy for people to get involved in. The primary premise of Big Bandage was simple: We asked participants to donate a pound or two to get dressed up in bandages, take some photos of themselves and share them with their friends, and make a small donation.

The first Big Bandage event took place in 2006. Backed by Heart FM, the campaign brought together staff, patients and the wider city, raising a phenomenal £35k. However, despite the success of the event, we didn’t repeat it the following year: changes in staff structure meant we had to shift our focus elsewhere. But eight years later, Big Bandage has finally made a comeback.

Bringing it back

In July 2013, we attended the Institute of Fundraising Convention, where we learned more about ‘flag days’ – a day dedicated to a particular cause. With a new Children’s Cancer Centre to fund, we realised we needed to bring Big Bandage back. It had been such a success for us back in 2006, it was really a no-brainer.

We began planning the 2014 campaign in early January. To get us started with promoting it, we covered the Bull – an iconic symbol in Birmingham – in bandages, which got people talking and generated a lot of press activity.

We took a more targeted approach with our audience this time around, focusing on getting groups of people involved, rather than individuals. We produced Big Bandage fundraising packs, which provided groups with different ideas about how they could get involved on the day – including the ‘Big Bandage Banquet’, which was a twist on the classic bake sale.

In the six weeks leading up to the event, we featured Big Bandage regularly on regional radio as well as mailing out our own e-shots and creating PR opportunities around the campaign. We featured people with close connections to the hospital who were taking part: patients, families and staff who were all getting wrapped up to support the cause. Having a specific project to talk about – the Children’s Cancer Centre – in the run-up to Big Bandage Day helped us to deliver targeted messaging, enabling us to tell people exactly what their money would be spent on.

Social media success

In addition to the ongoing radio and press activity, we were also lucky enough to receive free backing from high-profile local celebrity Emma Willis, which really helped bolster our social media activity.

On the day of Big Bandage 2014, we were trending on Twitter. We also set up an Instagram account ahead of the day, which enabled us to push out the hashtag further. We used the platform to encourage supporters to share their photos with us, and with each other, as well as posting photos of our celebrity supporters.

Our messaging last year – ‘pay a pound and dress up in dressings’ – was specifically targeted at individuals. This year, however, we chose to assign no specific monetary value to the campaign, instead asking people to wear the bandages with pride and donate an amount of their choosing. This enabled us to get much more creative with our messaging, as we were able to reach out to community groups, schools and corporate teams to encourage people to get excited about the day together.

Onwards and upwards

It was fantastic to see how many people got excited about the Big Bandage campaign this year; so far we’ve received more than £60k in donations, which will go towards our Children’s Cancer Centre Appeal – and there are still funds coming in. We’re already thinking about next year’s campaign and putting plans in place to make it bigger and better then ever.

Vikki Savery is public fundraising manager at Birmingham Children’s Hospital

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