Posts Tagged: fundraising

Tea with Simon Cowell, and why the Health Lottery is no bad thing

Simon Cowell asked me to go to tea with him this week. Actually that’s only partially true: more accurately, I was invited by a PR person to a rather civilised afternoon tea hosted by the TV talent guru and the media mogul Richard Desmond to celebrate the Health Lottery.

The lottery, which manages 51 society lotteries across Great Britain, has ruffled some sector feathers since it was set up in 2011, but it has also raised £50m for charities, CICs and other organisations working to combat health inequality. That’s good going: of course only a nasty cynic would point out that Desmond, who launched the game, had said it would raise £50m in year one alone. Read more on Tea with Simon Cowell, and why the Health Lottery is no bad thing…

Why do some causes raise more money than others?

Last week, Cass Business School published its new Charity
Market Monitor
, which looks at the most successful fundraising charities in the

One interesting factor was the differing success of
different charities. By far the most successful sector for fundraising was
health, with Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation occupying the
two top spots, and health charities accounting for more than a quarter of all

Read more on Why do some causes raise more money than others?…

The Standard Chartered Great City Race featured the best-dressed audience I’ve seen on a sporting occasion

Last week, three months almost to the day
after the London Marathon, I took to the streets of central London once again,
surrounded by thousands of people running for charity. Roads were closed, and
people gathered around to cheer on the runners.

Read more on The Standard Chartered Great City Race featured the best-dressed audience I’ve seen on a sporting occasion…

Fundraising and finance: the oddly successful couple

A while ago, I interviewed a finance director who claimed
she could tell which department of a charity she was in, just by looking in the

Go into the finance department in her organisation, she
said, and the fridge was full of sensible sandwiches: ham and cheese on plain
brown bread. The fundraising department fridge, on the other hand, contained
only tofu, humus and sushi. The PR department fridge was always empty apart
from a bottle of sparkling wine.

Read more on Fundraising and finance: the oddly successful couple…

We survived the Homeless Hacks challenge…

On Friday night, my fellow reporter Sophie Hudson and I slept rough in Spitalfields Market.

Homeless Hacks ChallengeNo, it wasn’t because times are tough in the journalism business these days. It was a fundraising event held by the charity Action for Brazil’s Children.

We managed to smash our fundraising target of £150 each: so far we have raised £456.65 between us, and there are promises of more now that we’ve done it.

The challenge was tough enough to warrant the sponsorship. Sleeping on a cardboard box on a concrete floor in the middle of November, even with plenty of layers, is not easy.

The next morning we felt groggy, dishevelled and very conspicuous as we walked towards Liverpool Street station with our sleeping bags and ruffled hair, smelling rather stale. We realised how quickly a homeless person could become a social outcast.

But we also realised how much potential there is for charities to raise funds by holding events that have a strong connection to their cause.

About 50 people were willing to sleep rough on Friday night, many of them socially aware, campaigning students looking for a new experience. It’s an exciting market for charities, and one that could probably be tapped into further with more unusual, attention-grabbing events.

Homeless Hacks Challenge 2But one thing did strike me about the event on Friday: there was little connection between the event and the charity’s cause area. Action for Brazil’s Children funds education projects in Brazil – a worthy cause but one with little connection to sleeping rough in London.

The experience has made me much more likely to give to charity, but I will probably choose a UK-based homelessness charity rather than Action for Brazil’s Children.

It begs the question: Should charities hold exciting fundraising events for their own sake, or should they hold off, in order to avoid saturating the market and to leave the space free for charities to whom the events are more relevant?

PS: Visit our Virgin Money Giving sponsorship page if you do still want to sponsor us.

Read more on We survived the Homeless Hacks challenge……

Homeless Hacks fundraising challenge Day Four

We did it! Yesterday Kaye and I smashed through the £300 fundraising target and managed to raise £335 – and that’s without counting any of the Gift Aid.

I would not necessarily say this is down to any particular genius on our part. Echoing what I wrote yesterday, I think it has been largely down to the very generous nature of our friends and family.

So…with the challenge itself still a couple of days away, what now?

Do we sit back on our laurels now we’ve managed to reach our target? Or do we continue to push as hard for more sponsorship now as we would if we were still barely half way to reaching it?

As much as I’d love to be an idealist and say I will continue to push as hard as ever for more, the truth is, now we’ve broken the £300 barrier, I just do not believe we will be putting the same amount of extra time and effort into generating more funds that we would be had we not got there yet.

It begs the question whether setting targets like this is a good idea.

Action for Brazil’s Children did, of course, use the words ‘or more’ when setting the £150 per person, but having the figure there at all gives you a goal which is hard to ignore once you’ve managed to hit it.

At the same time, I don’t criticise the charity for setting one. Without it, many would probably be satisfied having raised half this amount, without realising that had they pushed a little harder it would have been possible to double their sponsorship.

It’s certainly something for charities to consider very carefully, though. Perhaps in some ways it may be better to set a slightly ludicrous target of, let’s say, £1,000.

Or is that even so ludicrous? If that had been the goal all along would we have just knuckled down and made sure that we hit it?

Read more on Homeless Hacks fundraising challenge Day Four…

Homeless Hacks fundraising challenge Day Three

So, Kaye and I did well with our fundraising yesterday. We’ve managed to raise £265 in two days. In fact, with the Gift Aid, we have already broken through our £300 target.

We’re both lucky to be surrounded by a group of very generous friends and family, who have been incredible with their support. But personally I have still found it to be quite an unpleasant experience asking people for money.

This is not because I thought any of them would mind me asking, or begrudge giving the money to charity, but because it is just not a very natural thing to ask people for their hard earned cash without feeling a degree of guilt at the same time.

The only thing which has made it bearable is the fact that I have been able to explain that I am going to be putting myself through a slightly unpleasant experience for this cause.

Tell anyone who cares about you that you will be sleeping outside during November, and they are pretty willing to pay some sponsorship towards it. It’s almost as though they feel this is their way of giving you a warm blanket for the night.

I know that’s not the point. The point of the sponsorship should be all about the wonderful things the charity is doing, and I’m sure that helping a good cause is at least one part any sponsor’s motivation.

But look at any JustGiving or Virgin Money Giving page and most of the messages from sponsors will be words of good luck for the people raising the money rather than heart-felt thoughts about the good work the charity does.

That’s just the reality of the situation and charities need to tap into the fact that although the people who sign up to take part in events may feel some kind of connection to the cause, the people sponsoring them may not.

I think that both the events themselves and the ways that participants can ask for sponsorship need to be tailored to make the most of this reality.

Read more on Homeless Hacks fundraising challenge Day Three…

Homeless Hacks fundraising challenge Day Two

Day two of the Homeless Hacks fundraising challenge, and things are proving difficult.

I’ve created the Virgin Money Giving fundraising page – the charity we’re supporting, Action for Brazil’s Children, asked us specifically to use the Virgin site, not Justgiving (I wonder how many other charities do this?)

But the site is driving me mad. Parts of it are ‘temporarily unavailable’ whenever I try to use them. The site froze up when I tried to save the blurb I had written, so I lost it and had to write it again.

It took about half an hour to upload a picture onto the site. And the function that lets you email your contacts directly from the fundraising page is so frustrating that I ended up emailing my friends and family from my own account, and pasting a link to our page.

When I was writing the email, I had a bit of a dilemma: how strongly should I ask for sponsorship? I’ve heard plenty of people complaining that they’re inundated with sponsorship requests and feel guilty turning people down, so I didn’t want them to think I was pestering.

In the end, I opted for a clause at the end of the email saying people shouldn’t feel obliged to sponsor me but that if they did it would be much appreciated.

It’s been a day since I sent the requests, and we’ve had some really generous donations. But I’m very wary of not wanting to let the charity down by missing the £300 fundraising target we’ve been set, so we can’t afford to get complacent.

Sophie and I will keep blogging and tweeting and see how far that gets us. If the cash flow has dried up by tomorrow, we’ll have to think of offline ways of raising it – and pronto.

If you do want to sponsor us, visit our page.

Read more on Homeless Hacks fundraising challenge Day Two…

Sleeping rough for charity – a good idea?

Every now and again, it helps to look at things from a different perspective.

By covering the fundraising patch at Third Sector, both my fellow reporter, Sophie Hudson, and I have grappled with the arguments for and against various forms of fundraising, the complex regulations that surround raising cash and the various fundraising strategies that charities adopt.

In short, we’ve become fluent in the language of the professional fundraiser: we know our PFRA from our FRSB and our ROI from our attrition rate.

But this week we’ll be seeing things from the other side: that of the beady-eyed, enthusiastic donor. We’re taking part in a charity challenge – to sleep rough in Spitalfields market in London. In November. Oh, and to raise £150 in less than a week.

The event takes place on Friday, and it’s for the charity Action for Brazil’s Children.

We’ll be blogging, tweeting and sharing photos and videos during our week of frantic fundraising and on the night. Our attempts at sponsorship and sleeping rough might be an invaluable chance to see what donors really think and how charities could improve their events fundraising. Or they might be a disastrous, humiliating failure.

Either way, it’s for a good cause.

If you’d like to sponsor us, go to our Virgin Money Giving page.

Read more on Sleeping rough for charity – a good idea?…

‘Micro-volunteering’ highlights positive impact of technology on voluntary sector

It’s easy to become jaded by the endless stream of technological advances we see practically every day.

But one piece of technology I recently became aware of that made me sit up and take notice is an app which allows people to donate just a few valuable minutes of their time to charities in a quick and convenient way.

The Extraordinaries is a micro-volunteering network website where not-for-profit organisations can register and post challenges they need help with.

Individual volunteers can also register with the site and they then receive an app which allows them to browse the challenges on their phone and volunteer to help out with the projects which match their skills.

A quick internet search has yielded results of other apps out there doing similar things, such as iVolunteer.

However, the uniqueness of the Extraordinaries is that people can volunteer just a few minutes of their time to give their expertise towards a challenge a charity is facing. It’s know as ‘micro-volunteering’.

One charity was recently trying to find an inexpensive way of digging a well in Kenya, and through the network was connected with a US-managed but Kenyan-based well digging company within a week.

The creator of the App, Jacob Colker, recently won a Rolex Award for Enterprise, which provides support for innovators ages 16-30, for the project.

It seems to be well-deserved recognition, as the app really highlights the hugely positive impact that technology can have on the sector during a difficult economic time.

It may be harder to secure monetary donations from people, but securing donations in the form of time are still more than possible, if you do it in an innovative way.

Read more on ‘Micro-volunteering’ highlights positive impact of technology on voluntary sector…