The Fundraiser - Practical advice and insight for the charity sector

Posted in Case Studies General Fundraising, Event Fundraising Innovation

Is your charity thinking outside the box?

Lockdown has forced charities to reconsider their individual fundraising plans and think outside the box...

We’ve seen amazing ingenuity and innovation from Facebook dog shows to online auctions, complete with magic shows and cocktail-mixing maestros, great use of video and much, much more. Now, with the end of summer approaching and charities beginning to think about the major Christmas fundraising period, innovation is going to be as important as ever. 

Great examples of this innovation come from how The London Marathon has now announced a road race for elite runners on October 4th and, alongside that, The 40th Race, which will give everyone with a place in the 2020 event the chance to run the 26.2 mile distance from home or, on a course of their choice, anywhere in the world. Participants will have 24 hours to complete the distance, with their efforts logged on a new London Marathon app, showing that digital technologies are indeed passing the baton and keeping up the pace. 

Event Director for the Virgin Money London Marathon, Hugh Brasher, said:

“We believe that Sunday 4 October will be a London Marathon like no other, and The 40th Race will take the spirit of the world’s greatest marathon to every corner of the globe, with runners raising vital funds for the charities that have been so severely affected by the economic effects of the pandemic.”Whilst the lack of mass participation marathons will be devastating for many charities that have come to rely on the money raised (£66.4m in April 2019 for The London Marathon alone), there will be many charities who seize the opportunity of the 40th Race.

Bishopsland Education Trust, a silversmithing school in rural Oxfordshire, has done just that. Glyn McIntosh, Director at Bishopsland said: "Having an ex-student participating in the London Marathon presents a smaller charity such as Bishopsland, with a fantastic opportunity. 

“Not only, in this tough fundraising environment, are we able to raise much needed funds, but participation brings a groundswell of support to our charity from students, previous alumni and the wider craft community."

In another example of ingenuity, the Bath Boules Charitable Trust has adapted its annual three-day festival event. Over the last30 years the boules tournament has been run between businesses in the centre of Bath, which brings the community together to have fun whilst fundraising. However, this year due to the pandemic, the 30th Bath Boules event, BoulesAid, was hosted virtually, with comedy, music and raffles taking place alongside.

The online event was sponsored by a firm with a local office, and all proceeds went to local charities,who, like the London Marathon, would have had the event in their long term fundraising plans. In changing plans and going virtual with their event and fundraising, the charity ensured that they kept the local community involved and eager to support local causes at a time where many would’ve been looking at ways to make up for that lesser income. 

The success of this fundraiser opens up doors to other communities to follow suit and look at how they can bring together the community whilst raising essential funds for local charities.  

The Multiple Sclerosis Trust has also been looking at ways in which they can make the most from us all spending more time at home, with their Home Festival.

The charity, which ensures that people with multiple sclerosis have the specialist care and information they need, has taken the initiative to hone in on those who have had festival plans cancelled this summer. By hosting a virtual festival they are providing a white-label festival packed full of family-friendly activities from accessible yoga to family comedy. 

Taking inspiration from the rise in virtual events, this home festival is a great opportunity to bring people together whilst fundraising, particularly as it can thrive on social media as people share their day - something that we can see could continue as we move into a new ‘fundraising-normal’.

The Ruth Strauss Foundation recently found new ways to bring in audiences to their cause as they promoted their #RedForRuth campaign across The Ruth Strauss Foundation Test Match at Old Trafford in late July.

The charity took advantage of the empty stadiums and used the space to promote text giving codes to support the charity’s work in supporting families who are facing the death of a parent from cancer, offering professional emotional support. 

This innovative idea brought in over £250,000 through such simple and memorable text giving keywords as RUTH20. This fundraising campaign worked particularly well as the charity knew their cricketing audience and were able to use interviews with ex-England captain Andrew Strauss to explain the work of the charity. The scale of the event and the power of radio and TV media captured the attention of viewers who are spending more time at home.

As we now start to see some fans attending sporting events, successful ideas like this are sure to provide new donation revenue streams for charities of all sizes. 

Looking ahead as a sector at the 'new normal' it's clear we must continue to innovate new ways of fundraising to ensure that our campaigns are engaging donors, as well as appealing to new and younger audiences at all costs.

Author: The National Funding Scheme

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