Posted by: crustynomad | March 14, 2008

‘Small Change / Big Difference’ – a new approach to fund-raising

UPDATE: (14/03/08) This article was posted the day of BBC’s Sport Relief and it is interesting to hear that some of the methods of fund-raising have been mentioned during the evening show. One example was to skip the evening takeaway and donate that money to Sport Relief instead. The key is to associate the amount with something in everyday life and match it to what it can do for the benefit of those in need.

The collection tin method of fund-raising has been around for many years and looks set to remain so for the foreseeable future. It may be that the technique of raising money has to change if the desperately high levels of funding required are to be maintained year-on-year.

One option to consider is to producing a folded credit card sized card which has the charity aims and details plus a list of different monetary amounts and what a donation of that size could pay for. The twist is that each amount is given an alternative value in terms of a daily expense such as a chocolate bar, newspaper or drink.

The aim would be to persuade the card holder to direct money from what are largely unnecessary purchases to a worthwhile cause. By making this process a challenge’ over a 7-day set period or longer it will focus the mind on that time frame and reaching a fund-raising target.

Example Wording

For the next seven days [charity name] is urging you to make a small sacrifice in your daily spending for the people affected by [charity condition]. Below are just some of the ways that you can help save money for the cause.

50p is the price of a daily tabloid newspaper or a chocolate bar
Could be used to help prepare, print and distribute [charity name] educational literature

75p is the cost of weekly TV listings magazine or a can of fizzy drink
Could be put towards the study of effective treatment for [charity cause]

£1.50 is what you could save on a bus fare ride by walking the last mile
Could be used to help expand [charity name]’s medical and educational adviser teams

£2.50 will pay for a take-away cup of filter coffee or a pre-packed sandwich
Could be used to help fund the running of the [charity name] telephone helplines

£3.00 will buy a pint of beer, a glass of wine or spirit
Could be used to help run [charity event]

£4.00 is what you will need to purchase a meal in a fast food restaurant
Could be used to help fund the study of [charity project]

Card Features

The card features information on the charity’s aims for those affected by the medical condition and contact details and telephone numbers on how they can make a donation.

While fund-raising is a primary objective, education on what the cause is and how it affects people is paramount. It is imperative that people understand what it means to those individuals, their families and how their contribution can help.

The card as I proposed would need to be sold’ on a number of levels.

Would having a credit card sized card in a purse or waller where the holder can actually track unnecessary spending appeal to many people? If it means that the person is more aware of where their money is going on a daily basis that has to be beneficial to the person’s finances long term as well as for the charity.

If it inspires a cut down sugary snacks, the intake of fizzy drinks, alcohol and strong coffee it is also helping create a more healthy lifestyle too. Therefore this campaign could be promoted alongside personal health or money management targets in addition to a person’s community contribution goals. Encouraging the population to eat less junk food and be more aware of everyday expenditure can only be a good thing.

Larger Group Involvement

Additional funding targets with comparable daily spending values could be listed on the charity’s website. A printable sheet with check boxes could, for instance, be used for larger groups of people such as office workers who could work together as a team to complete the whole funding list and raise larger sums of money.

Card Distribution

The challenge is the distribution of the card. How this would be done would need to be carefully considered as there is evidence that there is some reluctance to take any form of direct mail.

Cards could be displayed with point-of-sale charity boxes which can then be picked up or be given out through promotions with exhibition stands at shopping malls. Another option would be to give them out instead of stickers at collection points.

A batch could be mailed out with copies of charity publications and passed to family and friends of those affected. This may yield a high return but this would also be comparable to preaching to the converted – they already know about the cause and what means.

Ideally the charity needs to reach members of the population who do not know of the work of the organisation so they can better understand the needs of those with the condition and why funding is so important.

In Summary

This campaign is not designed to make an individual feel guilty for treating themselves to everyday luxuries. It’s just a case of being aware of what anyone can do on a daily, weekly, monthly basis and redirecting some of that money to where it can be used more effectively.

If we did nothing else but skipped just one glass of wine or bottle of beer over the course of a seven day period we would contribute more to charity coffers than most people ever do in their everyday lives. If 100 people make that sacrifice that’s £250. If 1,000 did that it’s £2,500 and that’s out of a UK population of 60 million people.

…and that’s just for ONE sacrifice in seven days…

Imagine if 2,000 people each saved a fiver – that’s £10,000! As I said: “Small Change / Big Difference!”

I have a mock-up of a card that still needs a little work but I will post a visual on here in due course to give people an idea how I think it would work. I also have some further thoughts on the the whole fund-raising issue as a whole so check back in a day or two to find out more.



  1. Enjoyed your post. I have a companion post with some similar thoughts. Didn’t have your big idea, but have been pondering that “what if I gave this up…how it can make a difference).



  2. […] ‘Small Change / Big Difference’ – a new approach to fund-raising One option to consider is to producing a folded credit card sized card which has the charity aims and details plus a list of different… […]

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