In an interview with Donorfy, the cloud-based fundraising CRM, athlete Sally Gunnell OBE shared several ways that charity fundraisers can better engage with celebrities to improve their fundraising campaigns.
Gunnell is the only woman in history simultaneously to hold Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth titles, together with the 400 metres hurdles world record.
Now she splits her time between motivational and inspirational speaking, media work, working with organisations to become ‘Fit / Fitter for Business’, charity work and spending time with her family.
“My children are all very active, and now I experience what my parents did with me: running them all over the place for various activities”, she said. “My eldest son has a passion for running and now travels overseas and the length and breadth of UK training and competing.”
1. Take advantage in the popularity of being active
Sally feels that the number of runners, cyclists and skydivers advertising their fundraising pages on social media makes it seem that being active is more popular than ever.
“I think people today have an even better understanding of the benefits of being more active. It’s also a great motivator and being able to support a great cause is the icing on the cake.”
“I enjoy pilates and cycling – with a little bit of running. This is why you often see me doing something for charity. Having a goal is important part of maintaining motivation to stay active, I think.”
2. Understand why a celebrity wants to work with you
Sally gets asked to lend her name to numerous good causes, but doesn’t have a strict criteria for who she gives her time to.
“It is very difficult, as I am asked a lot. I hate saying no, but you do have to be realistic. I also have to consider the other charities I support as well. I don’t have a criteria per se, I just try and rotate my time as much as I can.”
Sally is a supporter of St Barnabas House and their children’s hospice Chestnut Tree House. She works with them for two main reasons. First, they provide a fantastic service. Secondly, they’re local to her.
3. Make it really easy for the celebrity to be involved
Sally also often takes part in St Barnabas House events, but says there’s no great science behind how they work together: “They put on lots of fantastic events throughout the year and, diary permitting, I go to as many as I can. Other than that, I still put in the training so I can be prepared.”
“You need to make it really easy for celebrities to be involved. Use their time for maximum impact. That might mean looking at the events planned and picking out key dates when you’ll be able to reach the most people and have the best opportunity to attract new supporters.”
4. Charities can benefit from an increased focus on corporate/office wellbeing
The UK charity sector employed around a million people, and benefit from a huge number of volunteers doing anything from office work to helping out at events. As such, charities, their staff and volunteers can gain from an increased focus on corporate/office wellbeing.
“Corporate wellbeing is just about adopting a more rounded approach to wellbeing. Health affects work and work impacts on health – it’s all connected.”
“Wellbeing isn’t just about running five miles a day. We look at helping individuals make small well-executed changes to key areas of their life (activity, nutrition, mental resilience and sleep) that will enable them to make a sustainable positive difference to their lifestyle. If everyone links together small positive changes in those key areas of their life, they’ll be even more effective in the valuable work that they do.”
“I also use a corporate app called KIN, which allows me to connect with a larger number of people in supporting the wellbeing programmes I put together for businesses and organisations.”
This article was adapted from an interview with Sally Gunnell as part of Donorfy’s Nonprofit Heroes series, featuring industry experts and successful fundraisers with stories and tips to inspire your charity to use technology to your advantage and do good, better.
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