Hitching a lift to more donations

For a small charity, putting together a complex fundraising campaign can be daunting. Samuel Davies explains how Lifelites used its partnership with the Freemasons network to raise £100k with a very unique idea.

Simone starting her journey at Freemasons Hall in London

With only nine members of staff to both deliver projects and raise funds, we raised over £100,000 with a unique challenge which saw our chief executive, Simone Enefer-Doy, visiting 47 famous landmarks and covering 2,500 miles in just 14 days without spending anything on transport.

At Lifelites we donate and maintain assistive technology for children in every children’s hospice across the British Isles. This technology helps them to play, be creative, control something for themselves and communicate, for as long as it is possible. For children whose conditions mean they struggle to communicate or join in with the world around them, this can be life changing for them and their families.

We don’t charge the hospices a penny, and it costs us around £1,000 per hospice, per month. With 60 current projects, we need to continue to come up with innovative ways of fundraising. Our ongoing challenge is how to do this when our small but loyal base of supporters are scattered across the country.

The Idea

We are always looking for ways to engage them, and wanted to do something fun and original that would appeal to and involve these existing supporters, as well as catch the attention of new audiences. With this in mind, we came up with Lift for Lifelites, an event that would see us travel the length and breadth of England and Wales and potentially come face to face with hundreds of supporters, both old and new.

At Lulworth Cove with members of PGL Dorset

Engaging supporters

The first step was working out who would be involved. We knew we would need to enlist the help of a network of volunteers from around the British Isles. Fortunately, we have good relationships with a number of Freemasons and the idea really captured their imaginations. They agreed it was exactly the sort of thing that their members across the country would be excited to get involved with.

Simone with Durham Freemasons at the Angel of the North

Freemasons are divided into regions called Provinces, so we decided to visit a famous landmark in every Province. This meant that it also had the potential to appeal to and capture the attention of a wider audience. We then asked Freemasons if they’d be able to transport us through their Province and encouraged them to be as creative as possible.

They took this on with gusto! We were taken to such instantly recognisable sites as Bletchley Park, the Angel of the North, Brighton Royal Pavilion and Hadrian’s Wall in transport which included the world’s fastest zip line, a McLaren, a horse and trap, a tandem bicycle, a classic Rolls-Royce and a DeLorean and many other classic and luxury cars. The vehicles not only made the photoshoot at each landmark look great, they also stoked interest from our supporters and the local press.

Collecting donations

We encouraged donations from our supporters and were blown away by the results. At nearly every stop Simone was presented with a cheque for the charity, some for as much as £10,000. Like any charity, it is vital that we make donations as easy as possible for our supporters, and our small team made sure we had a range of donation options available for people to support our event, including the CAF Donate platform, which is linked to the donation button on our website.

Successes!

Lift for Lifelites was far more successful that we could have anticipated, and to date we have raised over £100,000, with expenditure coming in well under budget. In addition to this incredible boost to fundraising, it was a fantastic opportunity for us to build new relationships and nurture existing ones with supporters around England and Wales.

Lift for Lifelites was made possible by the support of the many volunteers who provided and drove vehicles, and supported what we were doing with on and offline messages of support. This really helped to convey that our small charity was worth supporting.

With Derbyshire Freemason in a DeLorean

Ongoing momentum

We have also developed many new contacts with dozens of national and regional media, key landmarks and transport companies, which we now plan to build on. Social media engagement for the Lifelites accounts is at an all-time high and we have managed to maintain that post-event.

We had press coverage across the country, including radio and television interviews. In terms of recognition for our small charity, this is huge! We are working hard to ensure we capture the momentum that has been created by the success of Lift for Lifelites in the months to come.

The Lifelites team join Simone to finish her journey on the Thames

You can read more about Lift for Lifelites on their website.

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