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Monday, 30 May 2016

A Guide To Fundraising: Grants & Crowdfunding for Individuals

This post is to help those (in the UK) who are fundraising to access charitable funding and provide fundraising ideas based on my own experiences and research, though it is geared towards equipment, my ideas may help others. I hope people who are fundraising will find this useful. 

We see them everywhere now. On a daily basis I see many new fundraising campaigns starting up and people needing funding for something, be it for treatment abroad or private treatments not available on the NHS; to equipment for children and adults such as wheelchairs, mobility scooters, trikes and standing frames; for holidays, days out and things to treat children or adults; and even for funeral costs. It’s sad that the NHS and government can’t provide everything people need, but it is the climate we live in and funding expensive equipment, treatments, therapies and operations, the NHS can’t do it all. This is where fundraising campaigns and charities are forced to step in. Sites like JustGiving, GoFundMe, Indiegogo, Crowdfunder, GoGetFunding and many others are cropping up everywhere and allowing people to fundraise in an easily accessible way. Sites are easily shared around social media sites, accessible to many people, easy to donate to and are a great awareness tool because they show up in google and each gives you a fundraising page of your own which acts as a website which is central to your campaign. They’re very useful, and allow people to fundraise on a large scale to provide for things that the NHS and services cannot give, and where people cannot afford what they need.

I myself have had to fundraise for equipment, so I want to help others do the same, resulting in my decision to write this post to provide links to charities, suggestions, ideas and tips to help you reach your total. When it comes to finding grants, two good websites for a directory of charities and support are Disability Grants which you can access at http://www.disability-grants.org/, which has lists of granting charities and organisations, and Turn2Us, where you can search for all sorts of grants on there based on the criteria you put in to search for, which you can access at https://www.turn2us.org.uk. They’re both very useful sites and are a good starting point to find charities which can help with a variety of situations. Whatever the reason for your fundraising, I hope my guide is useful and helps you run a successful fundraising campaign.


Fundraising for equipment for adults

There is a wealth of charities out there to support children and young people up to the age of 19, but after that things dramatically tail off. Finding grants for adults is difficult, they’re few and far between, they’re saturated with requests for funding, do not receive as much money or support and as such can only provide small donations, compared to children’s charities which some can pay the full amount for equipment for children, even extremely expensive equipment. It means it’s harder to get adequate funding for equipment for adults. But that’s what I’m trying to help you with. 

The following list is a range of charities which will provide funding for equipment, especially wheelchairs and scooters, but some will help with white goods, electricals, with bills, other daily living aids, and even adaptations.

The Elifar Foundation - http://www.elifarfoundation.org.uk

The ACT Foundation - http://www.theactfoundation.co.uk 

Independence At Home - http://independenceathome.org.uk

The League of the Helping Hand - http://www.lhh.org.uk


Barchester Charitable Foundation - http://www.bhcfoundation.org.uk



The Hospital Saturday Fund - http://www.hospitalsaturdayfund.org

Society for the Assistance of Ladies in Reduced Circumstances - http://www.salrc.org.uk

The Mobility Trust - http://www.mobilitytrust.org.uk


For other funding such as goods, equipment, essentials and daily living items:

Lenderhand - www.lenderhand.org 

It’s not an exhaustive list, there are other charities which provide for specific members of the community such as ex-armed forces, people who’ve worked for certain companies, people who work in a certain sector or different career and others with an identifiable subgroup for which they provide support, so do check out http://www.disability-grants.org/ and https://www.turn2us.org.uk and to find out more.

Adults in Essex

And for those in Essex, there is also the Heart of Darts who will purchase equipment on your behalf, and pay for maintenance and upkeep, but you do not own the equipment and once you no longer need it, the charity will take it away (but they won’t take away equipment whilst you are still using it, so don’t panic!). www.facebook.com/heartofdarts 

Also in Essex is the Colchester Catalyst - www.colchestercatalyst.co.uk for those in North East Essex.

Grants For Young Adults:

The adult charities listed above usually cover young adults, but here are some children’s charities which include young people up to a certain age.

Equipment for Young Adults

True Colours Trust - www.truecolourstrust.org.uk 
Action for Kids (up to age 26) - www.actionforkids.org
Children Today (up to 25) - www.childrentoday.org.uk


Grants For Children

There are a variety of charities out there and I will not be able to list them all, only the ones I know about and have found with some research. This is also not an exhaustive list, so please don’t treat it as such, do keep researching as you may find groups and charities I don’t know about, or that are specific to local areas. These charities help with equipment, white goods, daily living items, and may provide equipment such as iPads and computers, and may even help with holidays or bills. Others provide wishes, days out, holidays and gifts for children. Some will provide help with medical funding. I have’t got time to find or list all the charities, so here are some of the main ones that I am aware of to start you off.  

Equipment:

Whizz-Kidz - www.whizz-kidz.org.uk 
Caudwell Children - www.caudwellchildren.com 
Strongbones Children’s Charitable Trust (bone and spine conditions) - strongbones.org.uk  
The Variety Club (up to 19) - www.varietyclub.org.uk 
Action for Kids (up to 26) - www.actionforkids.org 
The Elifar Foundation - www.elifarfoundation.org.uk  
AbleKidz - www.ablekidz.com/ 
The Boparan Charitable Trust - www.theboparancharitabletrust.com 
Buttercup Children’s Trust - www.buttercupchildrenstrust.org.uk
The ACT Foundation - www.theactfoundation.co.uk
Cerebra (for children with neurological conditions or brain injuries) - w3.cerebra.org.uk 
Children Today (up to 25) - www.childrentoday.org.uk 
Cheyne Charity (cerebral palsy) - www.cheynecharity.org.uk/ 
Family Fund - www.familyfund.org.uk 
Lifeline4Kids - www.lifeline4kids.org 
The Phoenix Children’s Foundation - www.phoenixcharity.org 
REACT Charity - www.reactcharity.org 

For essentials, daily living items, and general financial support:

Family Fund - www.familyfund.org.uk
Buttle UK - www.buttleuk.org
Buttercup Children’s Trust - www.buttercupchildrenstrust.org.uk
The Charlie Cookson Foundation - www.charliecookson.co.uk 
The Matthew Trust - www.matthewtrust.org
REACT Charity - www.reactcharity.org

Adaptations to properties and vehicles:

Buttercup Children’s Trust - http://www.buttercupchildrenstrust.org.uk 
The ACT Foundation - www.theactfoundation.co.uk  (for building adaptations, this only applies where a Disabled Facilities Grant has already been secured but there’s a shortfall)
Sullivan’s Heroes - www.sullivansheroes.org (also only where a Disabled Facilities Grant has been used and there’s a shortfall, which they will cover)

For Medical Funding and Therapies

Buttercup Children’s Trust - www.buttercupchildrenstrust.org.uk/
Caudwell Children - www.caudwellchildren.com

And for children with aggressive, high risk forms of cancer (namely neuroblastoma, brain tumours and sarcomas), there is Solving Kids Cancer (Europe), where you can fundraise for your child’s treatment which is held in trust by the charity, and can then be supplied if and when you need to consider other treatments because standard, NHS-funded treatments have failed. The money is held for as long as you may need it, and is released by paying for the specific treatment or associated costs. However if the money is not needed, it gets transferred to the charity so that they can continue their work and support other children. SKC also funds research into high risk cancers and undertakes other awareness and fundraising activities. solvingkidscancer.org.uk 

Other:

For children with brain injuries, the Child Brain Injury Trust provides funding for children with a brain injury and their siblings to be involved in social activities, or grants for The Mary Radnoti-Dwyer Education Assessment Grant of up to £350 to help towards the cost of SEN assessments for professional reports. Go to their website: www.childbraininjurytrust.org.uk
The Daisy Garland, who help children up to the age of 12 with epilepsy, they provide funding for nighttime sats/epilepsy monitors - www.thedaisygarland.org.uk
Roald Dahl's Marvellous Children's Charity. The charity helps children under 21 years with a serious long term health condition. It provides Marvellous Family Grants to support the emotional or psychological well-being of UK families in financial hardship who are caring for a seriously ill child with grants up to £500 to access a variety of support such as respite care or family days out; play, art or music therapy sessions; peer group or counselling sessions; equipment or expenses so children can join in activities with their friends; access to social communications technology; and expenses to attend a family support event or conference. - www.roalddahl.com/charity
REACT - www.reactcharity.org - also provide accepts requests for help with funeral costs and memorial headstones. 

Grants for days out, holidays, gifts and wishes - www.disability-grants.org/grants-for-children-dreams-wishes.html

For those looking for other charities in additions to the ones listed, please go to the Disability Grants website on grants for children here at www.disability-grants.org/grants-for-children.html

Children in Essex

Wipe Away Those Tears is an absolutely fantastic charity helping children aged under 18 with a serious or terminal illness. Wipe Away Those Tears will provide all sorts, from wheelchairs to other equipment such as trikes, standing frames, hoists and car seats, to sensory items, to therapies, to iPads, to holidays and more; many things that can help the child and their family. You can contact Gail O’Shea and the charity via their website www.wipeawaythosetears.org 

Also in Essex is the Colchester Catalyst - www.colchestercatalyst.co.uk for those in North East Essex

Roundtable, Rotary and Lions Clubs (adults and children)

Never forget about your local Roundtable, Rotary or Lions Club, they are a fantastic starting point for your fundraising. They consider grants on an individual basis and will award an amount that they decide and are able to provide, which goes towards your equipment or other item. They are inundated with requests, as are all sources of funding, so it might not be a large donation, but if they can support you, they will. 

Fundraising: Hints, Tips and Ideas

Fundraising sites:

Online fundraising is now so easy and accessible and fundraising sites allow you to create your own fundraising site to put your story, what you need, how much you need and why. Some of them put a time-limit on your fundraising (like JustGiving's Crowdfunding service for individuals who allow you 30 days to raise your total), and most crowdfunding sites charge some sort of fee, such as GoFundMe charging 6.4%. GoFundMe was my choice site for fundraising and it was very successful. The only thing I would advise people is any money you collect outside your online account, don't pay it into your crowdfunding page as you will lose some to the site charge, whereas if you pay it into your bank directly you will keep all of your funds. I see people do this and I want to shout "don't" as you will lose a percentage to the site charge when if you kept that money separate and paid it directly to your bank, you would keep the lot - very important when sites can take 5-8%. 

Here are a list of crowdfunding sites, and their fees/charges and terms:

JustGiving - 5% fee on donations (and card charges of 1.3% or 16p per donation). You only have 30 days to reach your total, but you get to keep the money raised in those 30 days even if you don't reach your target.

GoFundMe - 6.4% (5% GoFundMe charge + 1.4% (£0.25) processing charge) per donation. There's no time limit, you can adjust the fundraising target if needed throughout the fundraising campaign, and you keep the money you've raised (minus fees) even if you don't reach the total.

Crowdfunder - 6% (with VAT) plus 
PayPal charge: 3.4% + 20p on each pledge
GoCardless charge: 0.5% on the total raised with GoCardless
Stripe charges: 1.4% + 20p per pledge for UK issued cards and 2.9% + 20p per pledge for non-UK issued cards.
If you have chosen the ‘All or nothing’ funding option you and those who have pledged money to your campaign will only be charged if your project is successful i.e. it reaches it's target by the end of your project duration.
If you are on the ‘Keep what you raise’ funding option you will be charged whether you hit your target or not because you keep the all the funds irrespective of whether the full target amount is raised. 

Indiegogo - 5% + 3-5% PayPal fees per pledge for a total of between 8-10% 
Flexible Funding - Keep all contributions even if you don’t meet your campaign goal. Flexible Funding is often a great fit if you don't have a strict go/no-go funding minimum.
Fixed Funding - All contributions are returned if you don't meet your goal. Fixed goals can help give you some extra peace of mind about meeting your manufacturing targets.
Youcaring - No fee from the company but there’s a processing charge of 2.9% + 23p per donation.

GoGetFunding - 6.9% (2.9% of that is the processing fee). You keep all the funding even if you don’t reach your total. 

There are many others so do your research and find the one that suits you best. 

Trusts:

You can also set up a trust for an individual. This means a bank account is set up - legally, through a solicitor - and a group of trustees are appointed to manage the trust account. Money raised is paid into this trust account, but if the beneficiary wants or needs something, the trustees must agree, sign off and release the funds for that specific purchase or payment for services. It is one way to manage funds when you are raising large sums of money, as it's safe in the trust being controlled by the legally appointed trustees, but it means you won't have direct access to the funds because the trustees would have to approve using the funds for the purpose requested, and then sign off and release the funds for each purchase or payment for services/etc. 

Fundraising ideas: 

These are my own ideas that I have used, or come up with, and ideas I have collected and seen used by others. 

  • Indian Nights - many restaurants offer charity nights where they charge a sum per person for their meal, and then you can charge what you like for tickets and do a raffle and provide entertainment for your guests. Some even have entertainment you can use if a certain number of people attend, or at an additional cost. 
  • Handbag, Makeup or Tupperware Parties - such as Bodyshop parties.
  • Fundraising dog walk - dog walkers love to get together and would happily pay a pound or a few to meet up with other dog walkers, have a walk round a beautiful setting, and even better, have refreshments and food at the finish for everyone to mingle and finish off a beautiful walk - you could also make dog treats yourself like biscuits and liver cake, and sell them, as they’ll go down a treat with the dogs!
  • Craft fetes, where people pay to display their crafts and people pay a small fee to enter.
  • Family days, with bouncy castles, fun and games, stalls, petting zoo, emergency vehicles there for children to look at and learn about, even pony or donkey rides, or an indoor family day with stalls, a magic man, music, reptile and small animal handling and other things - the possibilities are endless.
  • Organising a fun dog or horse show - they’re extremely popular.
  • Organise a car show - where people pay to display their (very expensive and customised) cars for others to see and sit in, and people pay to enter (you’d need to know a lot of people with nice cars, or a club who will hold an event for you) or a motorbike show (you’d need to know bikers or be able to contact biker groups for it to work).
  • Non-uniform days - will your child’s or your previous primary or secondary school hold a non-uniform day and/or cake sale? 
  • Sponsored walks, tough mudders, marathons, fun runs and walks, cycling events, sponsored swims, triathlons and more.
  • A collection in a busy place, or selling merchandise, or even doing a collection or walk through town with a creative theme - a group of people walking through town dressed up as something and take collection buckets and tins - but you’d need permission from the council to do so.
  • Sponsored horse rides.
  • Selling clothes, games, electricals, items and so on at boot sales or online (you’d need to ask those you know to donate items for you to sell).
  • An online auction.
  • Give up smoking, alcohol, chocolate or something else and be sponsored.
  • A sponsored head shave.
Raffles and auctions at events are very popular, but you need to make sure that the prizes will be appealing to others.
 
Some ideas of raffle and auction prizes

Write to companies who may donate prizes, to try and get items such as:

  • Photography studios and photographers as photography session vouchers are extremely popular
  • Football tickets and memorabilia - though football clubs rarely are able to provide these for people due to the huge demand, and tend to favour charities over individuals (but it’s worth asking). 
  • Golf clubs - vouchers for golf at their venue
  • Ask local businesses if they can donate items, or donate vouchers for their services, such as consultancy, cleaning, technical support, 
  • Ask shops if they can donate items and products
  • Wine and champagne are great gifts
  • Electricals
  • Pamper packs
  • Spa vouchers
  • Tickets for events, such as local fairs, dog shows, craft and wedding shows, cooking roadshows
  • Tickets for wine tasting sessions and such like
  • Tickets for local kids activities and centres and days out - very popular with families 
  • Contact restaurants in your area who may provide vouchers for a meal at their restaurant or cafe
  • Tickets for shows at local theatres
  • Craft items (good quality)
  • Craft packs (for adults and children)
  • DVDs for children (or adults if they’re relatively new ones and in good condition)
  • Xbox, PS4, Nintendo etc. games (need to be good condition and relatively recent releases to be desirable)
  • Shop vouchers, pet supply vouchers, online vouchers
  • iTunes, google play and Amazon vouchers
  • Amazing, one-of-a-kind experiences, such as a day on a boat (if you know anyone with one that is!), a test drive in a car such as a Porsche or Ferrari, driving fast on a racetrack, a ride in a helicopter and such like - if you can get hold of something like that
  • Selling collectibles 
  • Whip round friends and family to see if they have unused or good condition electricals, clothes they haven’t worn, shoes they haven’t worn and anything else unused or in very good condition



Working with others/building a fundraising team

Fundraising campaigns are more successful if they have a team of at least a few people behind them. It can be a mammoth task one person doing it all on their own, so if you can gather a group of family members and friends to support you, all fulfilling different roles (some doing the online campaign and keeping it going, another securing raffle prizes, another designing leaflets and getting things printed and so on), in a joint and team effort, it not only takes the pressure off you, but it increases the success of the campaign. Also team members can keep the social media active and help to keep promoting the fundraising so it’s not one person doing it singlehandedly. 


Promoting your fundraising

Your fundraising is only as successful as the promotion, awareness and publicity of your campaign - you won't raise your total if no one knows about your campaign. Involvement of the press brings a campaign to people on a large scale, be it print media, online news websites and those with large followings, radio or even TV, if you were fortunate to secure a TV spot. Not only that, you need to do your own promotion. Flyers and posters are fantastic visuals for you to hand out or people to pick up and take away and read, or be put on notice boards and in shop windows and public places for people to see - they need to be in busy places. However your biggest tool is social media. This has helped with people fundraising as you can create a Facebook page dedicated to your campaign where you can post updates, pictures, videos, create events and call to action posts, and link to your crowdfunding page from there. It means people can "like" your page and keep up to date with you, but they're more likely to see it as updates only on your crowdfunding page are only good if people actually go onto your page to read them. Whilst you can link them to your social media accounts, if people aren't your friend or follower then they won't see it. With Facebook pages people can like to sign up to your updates, you can upload photos and videos, and you can pay to boost your posts and set your target audience who you want your post to reach. However all social media relies on people sharing your posts about your fundraising with your story, what you're fundraising for and the link to the page they can donate on. That is key to awareness on social media - getting shares and retweets. It relies on you posting, your friends sharing, their friends sharing, and their friends sharing and so on, in a chain reaction of sharing your posts. Also good is if your story and crowdfunding link are shared on popular pages/profiles and to have news outlets' social media pages sharing your story as well, as it extends the reach of your story and fundraising campaign. 

You also need to keep your story in the media if possible, even on popular or relevant websites, share it amongst the community and your social circles. You need as much exposure as possible, but at the same time you don’t want to keep bombarding the same people over and over because it can put people off - try always to think of new ways to promote and gain exposure, and do share it in your circles and on your page because you need the views and shares, but there is such a think as over-promotion so you do have to be mindful of that. 

Get your local media on board, local radio, news stations, newspapers, websites, local groups and any way you can get exposure. See if local news outlets will, at the very least, give your campaign a share on social media. My local paper and BBC Essex have been very supportive of me, and the Echo have followed my story for over six years now, and I do keep them in touch with what I am doing and they provided a lot of exposure during my fundraising campaigns. If you do secure this, send them periodic updates on your fundraising campaign, even if they aren’t going to run the story, it’s just common courtesy I think. 


Writing your story and fundraising plea:

The success of your fundraising campaign not only depends on exposure, but also how you tell your story and how you describe your campaign and tell people why you're fundraising. You need to tell your story in a compelling, descriptive and grammatically correct way. Believe me, spelling mistakes and poor grammar do make a difference to people reading your story. As does using the wrong words - there, their and they're; his and he's; where, were and we're and so on. You might not think so, but people can be put off by errors and they end up focusing less on your story and more on your poor grammar and mistakes. If you’re struggling, get someone to proof-read your story and suggest or make corrections before you upload and share it. 

How to write your story and describe your fundraising campaign in a compelling way

So, to help you out, I thought I'd share my tips for writing your story in a way that will capture attention, and will then compel them to act and support you. 

You need a catchy title for your fundraising campaign. Something that references the purpose of the campaign, and also relates to you in some way if you can do both in a title that is catchy, memorable, descriptive and entices people to read more, but that isn't too long so that you lose people's interest or it becomes too long for people to remember.

Be clear about what you are fundraising for. Transparency is important, people want to know exactly what they're donating towards and why, and that their donation will be used for the purpose for which they gifted it to you. 

If writing your own story, keeping it in first person - I, me - can connect the reader to you, it makes it intimate and personal. It makes people feel like you are speaking directly to them. Also use words and phrases that involves the reader, “together we can…", “with your help…", with your support…”, “you can help me to…..” and so on. They need to feel involved and invested in the project from the moment they finish reading your story, you need to make the readers feel part of the campaign without even doing anything. Feeling involved and being told you can help me to.... compels them to support you by donating or sharing because they feel part of it and that you're telling them directly that they and they alone have the power to achieve your desired outcome. It makes them feel powerful - that they hold within them the power to change, enhance or even save your life. If you are writing the story about your child or about/on behalf someone you know or love, obviously first person from the recipients perspective doesn't apply - though some people write their appeal from their child's or the recipients perspective, so it's really up to you, but you need to make the reader feel a part of it and still say "you can help to.....", "with your support (name/we) will be able to...", and so on. 

You also need to give them definitive actions, tell them what you want from them - without demanding of them or putting them off. "I would be extremely grateful if you would be prepared to support me, by donating to my campaign to help me to…. and I would be grateful if you could share my campaign too". Once you have told them your story, what you need and why, you then need to try to focus on what the item/therapy/support will do for you. You need to tell them one or a few outcomes of the funded item. Rather than say "you have the power to help me get a wheelchair", saying "you have the power to give me my life back" or " you have the power to enable me to look after my children" or other things such as “to give me my independence back", “to give me quality of life", "to allow me to work again" or whatever it will achieve for you and whatever impact it will have on your life. You need to make them see the impact of the funded item; they need to feel that their donation will give you something that most people take for granted and that will completely change your life for the better, so they see the enormous impact it will have on your life. In addition, giving them an outcome by saying "you have the power to" makes them feel special, they're in a position of power and that they alone can have a hand in helping you. People like feeling powerful. It's very compelling to give them an outcome of the funded item and to put the reader in a position of power and to show them the massive difference their support will make to your life. 

When writing your story and describing your campaign, use the word need in your campaign, rather than use the word want - want sounds like you don't need something, you only want it, and the word want can almost sound a bit selfish. If fundraising for a wish, holiday, day out or gift, use the term would like rather than want for the same reason. 

Always start your post with your catchy title. Or another way you could start is with a question. Such as "Want to help a 22 year old regain her independence and allow her to regain her quality of life?" Or "Want to help a 22 year old enjoy quality time with her family and help her to participate in the community?”. These call to actions can also attract peoples attention very quickly, but you then need an interesting, emotive and compelling story to keep their interest and compel them to act. 

The Story Itself

Throughout your/their story, you need to keep you human, you need to tell people who you are - without going on and on. Remind them that you are a person with feelings, goals, dreams and a life to live, and show how the fundraising will change your life. Tell them about yourself but try to keep it brief - you need it to have enough information, but not too much so you’re waffling on and on - as too long a story can cause people to lose interest. If you use humour, it must be appropriate to the story. Try to condense your health battles as you are able, but include all the relevant information and whilst it’s good to use medical terms, be aware many people won’t know what they mean, so try to accompany medical terminology with an explanation in layman's terms. It’s like me saying “I have Autonomic Dysfunction”; no one outside of sufferers of the condition and those that know and love them will understand what the term means, so I would follow that with “it means that the autonomic nervous system, which controls all the automatic functions in the body such as heart rate, blood pressure, temperature regulation and digestion is faulty, so these automatic processes don’t work properly” or something along those lines. Also try not to bombard people with too much medical language, explain your conditions definitely, but try to favour more inclusive language for those who aren’t literate in medical terminology so that they don’t get put off or lost in your story. Most of all, sell yourself. Who are you? What are your dreams, hopes and goals? What will this campaign achieve in terms of your life? What things will you be able to do with the equipment, or how will the money help in your medical care or day-to-day life? You need to sell them the whole story, and compel them to act upon what they have read and to donate and share.

Include before and after photos; people need to see you as a human being, so show them who you are/were separate from your illness. If you include photos relating to your illness journey, you need to be careful as it’s a fine balance between showing what your illness is like, and putting people off. It very much depends on the photos and what you want, and feel will be compelling without scaring people (shocking people into action is ok; scaring people is not good); it’s a delicate balance. 

Also, consider using other media to tell your story and introduce your fundraising campaign. You could make a video about the campaign, what you need and who you are, which people can watch and can be attached to your fundraising site and social media pages. Having your story both written and spoken in a video caters for everyone; some people prefer hearing stories to reading them, others prefer it the opposite way round. In your video it’s pretty much the same as I have described in writing your story. You need to try not to make it too long. You don’t want people to lose interest before they get to the end where it describes how they can donate and asks them to share. 

Your fundraising timeframe

Sometimes, what can be helpful, is a timeframe. People seem to act quicker if they think there is a deadline on the fundraising campaign (as there are on certain crowdfunding sites), because they want to help before you run out of time. Don’t be too ambitious with your timeframe, unless you have a predetermined deadline such as raising money for medical treatment which is urgent, but don’t have too long a deadline as people won’t see any urgency. If you use GoFundMe you could set a timeframe in your campaign, without causing any problems if you didn’t reach your total by your chosen date, as the site will remain open for donations and be unaffected by the timeframe you chose. It won’t have an inbuilt timeframe, it will just be an aim of yours, therefore the fundraising page will remain open after your deadline as it isn’t inbuilt in your fundraising site, so you can continue fundraising as you were before and extend your deadline if you’re struggling to reach your total. 

Creating a meme and helping your campaign go viral 

What about having an online campaign involving a certain action or picture (known as a meme) in the hopes it will go viral? Think about the success of Stephen Sutton (“Stephen’s Story”) with the thumbs up picture that was posted in return for a donation to his fundraising page for the Teenage Cancer Trust. It ended up raising an amazing £5 million for the charity! Then there was the ice bucket challenge for Motor Neurone Disease, though others joined in and did this for their own charities too. There was also the no makeup selfie for Cancer Research UK which raised a staggering £8 million. It’s unlikely you will reach the sums for these recognised charities, but a campaign which has the potential to go viral or to entice people to do something in return for a donation to your fundraising page that is a quick and easy way to fundraise and can quickly and easily spread across social media can’t be a bad thing. People like quick and easy ways to raise money, so encouraging them to share a picture with a certain theme or do something that is unique to your campaign and in return they donate say £2-£5 to help your fundraising, but it needs to be exciting and entice them to join in. However, it’s quite difficult to do small donations on some crowdfunding sites, because certain sites have a limit of say £5 per donation (such as GoFundMe), but even if you don’t get a donation it return, to have a meme spreading round social media sites with the link in the description, even that would be a huge help. It gets people involved and gives them a fun incentive.

Create a defining hashtag

Think of and use a dedicated hashtag for your campaign so that you can easily monitor posts about your campaign across social media. You need to try to get the hashtag trending on social media sites. You can use several hashtags for one campaign, but try to have one defining hashtag that everyone uses in their posts. It means you can easily search the tag to see who is posting and what they’re saying about your campaign, without having to search multiple hashtags, so you can monitor the reactions to, progress of and the spread of the campaign. My website/blog is called Lucy’s Light, so the hashtag I used was #LucysLight (remember, you can’t use punctuation (hyphens, full stops, apostrophes, forward slash or full or semi-colons) in your hashtag so make sure you don’t put any in there, or your hashtag will be broken and you won’t have a hashtag people can share and that you can monitor on social media). Get creative but try not to make the hashtag too long - you want something catchy that people can remember and instantly associate with your campaign. People love alliteration, hence so many people have their name and a word using the same first letter, like #LucysLight and #MelaniesMission and so on. It makes it catchy and easy to remember. Another example of a defining hashtag is the one used by the charity I work with, which is #supPORTthecause (the charity is abbreviated as PORT, hence PORT being in capitals in the hashtag). It’s up to you what you come up with and choose as your hashtag, so get creative!

Now you can make fundraising campaign go live!

It would be ideal if you could kick off your fundraising campaign with an article in the paper and on news sites or an appearance in the media, and make the campaign go live with a bang, as people are less likely to donate if there’s very little money been raised so far - the more money you can raise when you first start your campaign, more people will donate because they will see that others think you’re a worthy cause and will want to help you reach your total. I was told by someone when I was fundraising that getting the fundraising going is difficult because when there is little-to-no money in the fundraising account, people are less likely to donate because people, for whatever reason, find this less appealing and would rather donate to a cause that is receiving a lot of support rather than one which has only a few donations under their belt. Hence having a media story go out at the very start or in the early days can really kick off the fundraising and get some funding behind you, which will then entice more people to support you. It seems that the closer you are to your target, the more people want to help you reach that total (a bit of reverse psychology). So if you can secure great exposure in the early days and build up a decent amount to start off the campaign, you will find people are more interested in donating and continuing that successful run of donations. The key to fundraising lies in exposure and awareness, and you need to keep your campaign active on social media, the media generally, as well as active in your local community with print media such as flyers, leaflets and posters. Also, to keep your campaign active on social media, I suggest the use of a site such as hootsuite, as you can prepare all your social media posts across a variety of platforms all in one go (say for a week, a fortnight or even a month in advance) and set dates and times for these to be posted, which takes the pressure off you as they will automatically be posted at the times you’ve set, so you don’t have to sit on social media every day writing posts, tweets and so on. The best times to post on social media are 8am, 12pm and 6pm as that’s when people are most active and engaging on social media, so try to target your posts at these times.

Now you’re ready to go live and get fundraising! Good luck, enjoy it and I wish you every success. I hope you reach your total quickly, and your life is saved, supported or enriched by the reason for your fundraising mission. 

Have you found this guide helpful?

So, finally I have finished my guide to help those who are fundraising for themselves or their child, friend or family member, or even to help those who are fundraising for charities. This guide is not everything you can learn about fundraising nor are the charities listed all the ones which are out there, so do your own research and you will be able to get more help and advice from others. However I wanted to share my experiences, hints and tips for fundraising and put them all down in one place to help you make your campaign a success and help you reach your total, and in the timeframe you need to do so. These are all things I have learnt through my own fundraising, and I wanted to use my knowledge and experience to benefit others who are trying to do the same. 

I hope this has been of great help to you and once again, I wish you all the best with your fundraising and I hope you reach your total in the timeframe you need to. 

Good luck!

(c) Lucy Watts MBE, 2016

Monday, 23 May 2016

Children's Hospice Week 2016: A Spoken Poem Video

It’s Children’s Hospice Week this week (23rd-29th May 2016). It’s an annual week-long event and the aim of children’s hospice week is to raise awareness of the services that support children with life-shortening conditions and their families. 


This year’s theme is Time to put families first and the campaign will focus on getting the right support for the whole family so families can treasure their time together. 

Caring for a child with a life-shortening condition is 24/7, parents don’t get a break and so they need adequate support. Having a child with a life-shortening condition has far reaching effects and it impacts on every member of the family. The parents have the enormous task of looking after the child, they give up their lives to do so and frequently have to learn medical procedures in order to keep their child alive. They spend their lives juggling medical needs, equipment, orders, deliveries, medications, appointments, therapies, meetings. They spend their lives trying to give both their healthy child/children enough time and attention, and their poorly child the attention they need, they try to find ways to spend quality time as a family, and frequently parents barely spend time together as one always has to be looking after the poorly child, whilst the other takes care of the other child/children. Parents have enormous pressures on them, they rarely get time to take care of themselves and have to struggle on no matter how exhausted they are. However it’s easy to forget about the siblings who don’t get as much time with their parents as the average child does due to the demands of caring for the poorly child, but also, whatever their age, they have to deal with topics, procedures and feelings and see things no child should have to, and they have to learn to cope with the unpredictable world they live in. 
"Will mum and dad be picking me up from school today? Or will it be someone else?"; 
"Will my brother/sister wake up tomorrow?"; 
"Will my birthday be spent at home and will I have a party, or will we be at the hospital again?"
It's terribly difficult for siblings as well as parents and other family members.

The often complex and demanding care required to manage the needs of a child with a life-shortening condition takes its toll on the whole family, and it can be hard to spend quality time together as a family as it is complicated to even to the simplest of activities. Parents also have to grieve, even before they have lost their child, as they grieve for the child they thought they were going to have, and they also grieve in advance knowing they will lose their child. It’s a sad and lonely world to live in without the right support, and that is why children’s palliative care services and children’s hospices are vital. They support the whole family, give the parents respite, allow them to spend quality time together as a family and they are there with the family through the whole journey, from life, to the end of the child’s life, their death, and right through to bereavement; these services are there for families through it all. We need to raise awareness of the amazing work these services do and the wonderful staff who make the services what they are, and hopefully to break the myths surrounding the word hospice so that more families can benefit; so many are put off by the word hospice, thinking it’s a dark, sad and upsetting place where children go to die and that’s it, but if they knew what wonderful, bright and happy places children’s hospices are and the scope of the care and support they provide, it would mean these services could reach more families who need it. However, funding is crucial since all children’s hospices are charities and cannot depend on reliable and sustainable government funding. The amount of funding they receive from the government, CCGs and local authorities is very low, so they depend upon the generosity and kindness of donations and fundraising. 

Children’s Hospice Week is spearheaded by Together for Short Lives. This year the charity are asking for support by sharing an #ourselfie image on Facebook or Twitter - it could be a family selfie, a child’s drawing or painting, or a family picture from childhood. Alternatively you can share what family time means to you by using #myfamily which could be a family memory, tradition or something special you enjoy doing as a family.  Be sure also to use the tag #ChildrensHospiceWeek in your posts and tweets too. 

Here’s what Together for Short Lives have said about this year’s Children’s Hospice Week:

Throughout the campaign week we’ll be showing what life is like for families caring for children with life-shortening conditions and how services help families make the most of their time together. We’ll also be calling on the government and the public to put families first to ensure that they get the care and support they so desperately need.
Please tag any social media posts on Facebook or Twitter with #ChildrensHospiceWeek and #ourselfie or #myfamily

So please, get posting and tweeting with the above hashtags and show your support for families caring for children with life-shortening conditions, and for the services that support them. 

This year to celebrate Children’s Hospice Week, I thought I’d do something a little different. I do enjoy writing poems, so I wrote a poem. However rather than just write a poem and post it here on my blog, I decided to turn it into a video and recording as well. So here is the finished result. 




Thank you to the families who allowed me to use photos of them and their children. 

I hope everyone enjoys the video. 

Here is the written version of the poem

What do you know about children’s palliative care?
I bet some will think it’s too painful to bear?

I daren’t think of what horrors appear in your mind
If I said the word hospice to most of mankind

An image of a place, full of death, doom and gloom
Which couldn’t be much farther from the wonderful truth

A children’s hospice is a home from home
Where families are supported, and feel less alone

Where care is provided for each family member
Where memories are made, for families to remember

Yes it’s true children can go there to die
Their final journey ends and their family will cry

But it’s also full of children, who are there for respite
For the family to regain their strength to fight

Support includes finding the right medication or treatment
And extends all the way beyond death to bereavement

It means that a child, who was struggling in pain
Is now comfortable and able to live life again

It means that suffering is reduced or abolished
The difference it makes, could leave you astonished

So why so little funding for such an important support
For children whose lives will be sadly cut short?

For families who will suffer the most dreadful loss
Surely that gets the message across?

Children’s palliative care is an extremely vital service
In hospital, home, or hospice fit for purpose

So these life-limited children have all their needs met
Through the end of their life, but also right from the outset

Please help support families and life-limited children
Don’t let them be forgotten, or worse still, hidden

The world needs to know that palliative care
Is a vital and growing area of healthcare

So it need recognition, and adequate funding
So that these vital services can continue running

We also need to break down the myths that surround it
So that more families understand and can benefit from it

So that they can make the most of the time they have left
With their child with whom they were incredibly blessed

And then families have to learn to cope and to grieve
To accept their pain won’t go, but that it can ease

As they learn to remember the good times they had
And try not to think about all of the bad

The hospice is there every step of the way
And helps them to cope with every new day

Please help these families to access support

The ones whose child’s life will be sadly cut short

(c) Lucy Watts MBE - May 2016



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