Pushing the fundraising boat out

Howard Lake | 28 February 2013 | Blogs

This week’s blog is dedicated to a small group of charities who are trying different things to raise awareness and money.  We’ve talked a lot on these pages about the lack of a ‘success guarantee’ when trying something new but I find myself appreciating these three initiatives for the same reasons:

  1. They are appealing to a zeitgeist that impacts on an audience they are trying to target
  2. They have apparently weighed up the risks of investing time and money (to varying degrees) in these ventures and made a judgement call that their activity is worth doing to reach audiences beyond our archetypal Felicity Donor
  3. Feedback and impact can be tactically measured to judge success and assess whether that judgement call was right or not

Making 'light' with death

Lucy Gower’s blog tells the story of attending a new pop up restaurant in London, Café de Mort, where the whole experience, menu and accompanying drinks selections are all designed to instil a sense of danger and risk amongst diners.

Cafe de mort dinnersThe purpose of the evening, aside from enjoying raw puffer fish and cocktails that can make a person go blind, was to raise awareness in a different way of the importance of legacies for charity.  The event was hosted by Remember a Charity and diners were reminded that leaving a legacy is a celebration of life, in spite of the risks to the contrary!

Location, venue and menu all attracted folks who aren’t yet at death’s door but who may not be thinking about wills or not including a legacy within them.  So yes, it’s probably a longer term investment but raising awareness of the importance of legacies is key whilst this audience has some money to think about leaving.

Cute shock tactics

How can shock tactics be cute, you ask?  Well animal charity The Mayhew Animal Centre was “very frustrated at seeing countless unwanted and abandoned animals arrive at our rescue centre as a result of the chronic pet overpopulation crisis in this country.”Mayhew Animal Centre pet neutering campaign

Given that previous campaigns haven’t made a real difference, they decided to create a campaign that would make people pay attention and take notice of the importance of neutering animals.  But how to do it in a way that avoids creating deliberate offence and shock for the sake of it is always tricky (and often backfires)…

The team launched a set of campaign postcards in the style of the sex cards often found in phone boxes with each featuring a lovely animal but in the tongue-in-cheek context of a racy strapline and pen portrait.  Personally this kind of humour appeals to me more than pictures of abused animals covered in gore so I hope it works in the centre’s catchment area.

That said, I didn’t see an obvious call to action but I’m sure folks who get in touch with the centre as a result of the cards certainly mention it and responses can be monitored accordingly.

Gangnam Style is soooo last year…

My last campaign is actually two.  Take a really simple idea that has the potential to engage potential and existing supporters across a wide range of ages and interests and just go for it in a timely and low-cost (if not totally free) way.

The importance here is on the timeliness.

The Macmillan Cancer Support fundraising team in Shipley have invited folks to challenge them to do anything to raise funds and last week was the chance for them to strut their stuff and Harlem shake for all they’re worth.

Similarly, the RNLI team gave it some down on the dockside… and both videos included ways to donate as well as encouragement to support the cause in the now active charity ‘shake-off’.

Contemporary, more likely to go viral, cheap to do and fun… why wouldn’t younger supporters ‘get’ this cause and the people behind it?  Even the video is low resolution enough to be played easily via smartphones.  But because of analytics on web pages and Youtube, the number of watches and shares can be tracked.

And then a quick thinking charity person like the very smart Kirsty Marrins pulls together a competition amongst charities that drives donations and creates an opportunity for them to be crowned the shake-off champions… smart and quick thinking.

What do we think?  Personally, I subscribe to the view that if we always do what we've always done, then we'll always get what we've always got.  And society simply moves too fast for us not to think about different ways to engage potential supporters.

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