At a time when fundraising creativity has been at an all time high, our Fundraising Manager, Millie Walsh (pictured right), tells us about some of the lessons we’ve learnt during a year of COVID-19…
In a survey conducted by the Institute of Fundraising, NCVO and Charity Finance Group in March 2020, it was found that charities in the UK were expecting a decline of 48% in voluntary income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite this prediction, emergency appeals outperformed their forecasted expectations by 40%, and the fundraising climate changed and adapted to accommodate the new socially distanced and digital world – and so did WeSeeHope!
From online fitness events and auctions, to raising donations with their shopping, our amazing supporters took virtual fundraising in their stride. With their help and generosity, we made it through a difficult year – thank you!
In a year when fundraising changed so rapidly, here are five things we learnt that we’ll continue to put into practice…
1. DIGITAL COMMUNICATION IS KEY
With restrictions meaning that in-person events were cancelled and face-to-face time with our supporters was no longer possible, staying in contact with them digitally was more important than ever.
Increasing updates on our blog, shouting louder on social media, encouraging people to sign up to our ENEWS, and frequent video calls were key to keeping supporters regularly updated on our programmes across Southern and Eastern Africa, our finances and fundraising opportunities. This helped them feel part of our response to the impacts of COVID-19 on the vulnerable children and communities we work with.
Key Takeaway: Whilst we always love a coffee with our supporters, we can use our digital communications even more effectively to keep them updated.
2. KEEP THINGS SIMPLE
The shift to working from home and juggling homeschooling and family life meant it was important to find quick and easy ways for everyone to get involved in our fundraising.
Easyfundraising turns supporters’ daily food shop or monthly treat into free donations for us whenever they buy online at over 4,000 stores! In the past year they raised over £600, and we had a 24% increase in supporters joining and raising money for us with their shopping!
We also signed up for Facebook fundraising tools to make celebrating a birthday or special event a super easy way to fundraise (you can set one up here if you’d like). The new features meant supporters could fundraise for us on Instagram as well, and add the donate sticker to their stories!
Key Takeaway: Fundraising doesn’t need to be complicated – simplicity is the way to go!
3. THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX
We always knew we had the best supporters, but their generosity and fundraising creativity during the pandemic made us realise it even more – take a look for yourself:
- One of our long time supporters, Sarah O’Neill, hosted a fitness class live on Facebook, raising £570 along the way!
- Following on from 2019’s successful Vätternrundan, 20 cyclists took on the virtual challenge in June, cycling 325km in a week. Across five countries and four time zones, together they cycled over 6,000km and raised £34,000! (Pictured below left)
- After the April London Marathon was cancelled, James Bowd was keen to take on the virtual alternative in October, running the 26.2 miles around his local 400m athletics track.
- As with the London Marathon, the August 2020 RideLondon was also cancelled. One of our amazing supporters, Charlie Groves, decided to take on the 100 miles during the same weekend of the event, cycling 130 miles and raising £1,475! (Pictured below middle)
- The Hope Classic Rally held a virtual “All-Star” Celebrity Auction with calls with the likes of Jenson Button and Richard Hammond up for grabs. Long time supporter Nicki Shields announced the winners during a live Q&A with Formula E star Dario Franchitti, and the exciting event raised over £10,000!
Key Takeaway: It’s time to think differently so we can motivate and help our supporters to be creative with their fundraising.
4. DO THINGS WITH A TWIST
The shift to virtual events got us thinking – what could we rework or take online?
For starters, we created our new virtual fundraising ideas to help inspire supporters to try something new or change up their usual fundraising activities.
We also adapted the events that we hold annually, such as our Golf Day, which had a socially distanced twist last September. Teams were staggered throughout the day on the Walton Heath Golf Club’s course, and a silent auction was held rather than a live one. The incredible golfers raised £25,492 during the fun day out!
Dealing for Donations Day (DfDD), a full-day fundraising event held by our corporate partner Mako, turned virtual last October. With activities such as online fitness classes, a kick-up challenge, a pub quiz, a marshmallow eating competition and a virtual live auction, the team had a great day and raised an amazing £19,707!
Key Takeaway: Being flexible with our fundraising and embracing the virtual is key.
5. EVERYONE LOVES A CHALLENGE!
Last summer, we held our first ever virtual event – the HOPE10,000! We challenged our supporters to help us collectively cover 10,000km in the month, which is the average distance from the UK to the five countries we work in.
Creating the HOPE10,000 from scratch and trying out a completely new way of fundraising for WeSeeHope was a great opportunity, if a little daunting. We were absolutely amazed with the response – a HUGE thank you to everyone who took part and helped us cover an amazing 14,874km and raise an incredible £13,097!
Two of our corporate partners also ran the HOPE10,000 themselves. Icon Solutions took on their challenge alongside ours, doing 833 activities that covered 10,414km and raised £4,497! Their incredible efforts helped us to double our distance to 25,288km, with their Operations Director, Ben Hallifax, saying:
“We have seen the impact of WeSeeHope’s work in communities first hand and wanted to help make a difference. As a result, the team all got behind this (the HOPE10,000) very quickly, and we had a wide variety of contributions, from 100km bike rides to a 26 mile hill walk. I am very proud of what we have achieved and would like to thank everyone for their incredible efforts.”
Another partner, Speik, held their challenge in February 2021 where their 26 participants covered 11,200km and raised £5,625! With runs, bike rides and dog walks to name a few, their Head of Customer Operations, Jane White, said:
“I really enjoyed running it. It was really rewarding when everyone was so enthusiastic and encouraging to each other. It created a lovely supportive community which was very motivating!”
Key Takeaway: Virtual fundraising challenges are a great way for companies to connect and engage with their employees during this time.
We’d like to say a BIG thank you again to everyone who has supported us over this year – your generosity and spirit has kept us going!