Fundraising First Thing: ‘Giving fatigue is a myth' and more on mass participation

16 Mar 2017 Voices

Hugh Radojev writes that this month's Fundraising First Thing provided attendees with UK-wide event data, a fascinating case study and one charity's plans for entertainment industry fundraising expansion. 

Earlier this week the best part of 50 events fundraisers from across the UK congregated in London for the latest in our series of Fundraising First Thing breakfast briefings. The group heard from speakers from War Child, JustGiving and Alzheimer’s Society, and were given a snapshot of the incredibly diverse and ever-growing world of mass participation event fundraising.

Here are a few of our key takeaways from the event. 

War Child UK plan to expand into film and sports market

Since the charity released The Help Album in 1995 to raise money for war-torn Bosnia and Herzegovina, music and the music industry has become inextricably linked into War Child’s charitable DNA.

Its sponsored live gigs, in particular around Brits Week in February, have become some of the hottest tickets in town and the ballot system whereby its supporters apply for tickets to see some of the biggest bands and artists in the UK perform for the price of a £5 donation has won numerous awards. 

Not content however simply to rest on its laurels, Katie Johnson and Liana Mellotte from the charity’s events team, said that War Child is now planning on expanding its fundraising efforts into film and sport arenas. 

“Over the course of the next year, we’ll be moving into sport and film as part of our wider entertainment strategy in fundraising,” said Mellotte. “That we develop what we’re doing with music and also create models that reflect that in films and in sport. We started off with music which is very much a stronghold area for us and we’ll be trying to develop that throughout the year.”

Mellotte and Johnson also said that the charity was looking to build on its recent successful forays into the video game market. War Child released Help: The Game last year to help raise money for children in warzones, and has also partnered with a number of video game developers to raise money. 

Johnson said that the charity had been in touch with a number of large video game events – including with EGX, the UK’s largest gaming event. “The gaming market in Europe is bigger than the world-wide music market,” said Mellotte. 

‘The concept of giving fatigue is a myth’ says JustGiving

Keith Williams, general manager at JustGiving, also let the gathered fundraisers take a look at the digital giving platform's treasure trove of data. He said that, despite what some might have heard, the idea that the public is suffering from so-called “‘giving fatigue is absolutely a myth”, and he had the data to prove it. 

According to JustGiving data, event fundraising from individuals has never been more popular. Barring treks; the average amount of money raised by a JustGiving page has risen across all events since. 

The most popular fundraising event for individuals remains marathon running, with the average JustGiving page raising around £386 per person for such an event in 2015, a 22 per cent increase in terms of money raised since 2011. 

Williams said that, while marathon and half marathon running events continue to be the most popular for fundraising pages, cycling events were definitely a growing market too. A JustGiving page for a fundraiser competing in a cycling event raised, on average in 2015 £792, an £185 increase (or over 30 per cent) compared to a similar page in 2011. 

Williams said that, while more and more JustGiving fundraisers are optimising their events pages, the digital fundraising platform is planning on releasing something in the coming year which will address the issue that some 91 per cent of pages continue not to be properly optimisied. 

He said that this would help both the individual fundraisers themselves, and the charities they’re raising money for, get more cash from their chosen event.  

Memory Walk event will remain free, and will stay free… probably

The Alzheimer’s Society Memory Walk is the charity’s largest fundraising event. Last year, some 80,000 people took part in 34 such walks across the UK which raised just under £6m. 

Louise Oakley from Alzheimer’s Society said that the charity is looking to increase the income raised by the same event by more than threefold in 2017 to around £9m. Oakley said that, despite this ambitious target, the Memory Walk events would continue to be free to enter, despite the issue of charging for the event “causing numerous discussions at head office”. 

Oakley also said that, except for setting up a merchandise stand at each and every event, the charity doesn’t even do any onsite fundraising at any of the Memory Walk events. 

In order to meet the £9m target, Oakley said that the charity was working incredibly hard to really “strengthen the emotional hook of the event, because the people taking part in this event are doing so because of their emotional links to dementia” and not because the event itself is particularly “exciting or challenging, like a run”. 

Alongside the powerful emotional connection that many of Alzheimer’s Society Memory Walk supporters have to the event, Oakley also said that the events had almost become a safe space for people to share their experiences and talk about dementia which "is still something of a taboo subject in many ways”. 

Oakley finished her case study by saying that the charity still had some way to go to ensuring that people who took part in a Memory Walk one year, went on to continue to be involved with the event the following year. She said that, of the 80,000 who took part in the event in 2016, around 20,000 of those had been involved in the event before. Oakley hinted that Alzheimer’s Society are looking to diversify the event and add further offerings to the portfolio to increase rates of retention year to year in the future. 

The next Fundraising First Thing event – The changing role of communications in fundraising, will be held on Thursday 11 May. Those interested in attending can apply here. 

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