When fundraising meets Social Media

isl for blog


On 18 March 2014, 18-year-old Fiona Cunningham created a Facebook page asking people to take a selfie with no makeup on, post it and donate £3 to Cancer Research UK. One week later, £8 million had been raised through the #nomakeupselfie campaign which had seen celebrities such as Beyoncé, Rihanna and Cara Delevingne take part in the trend which had spread from Facebook across Instagram and Twitter.


In the month after the initally American based ice-bucket challenge was launched, there was an excess of 2.4 million ice bucket challenge-related videos posted on Facebook with a staggering 28 million people uploading, commenting on or liking ice bucket challenge-related posts. The number of uploads was even higher on Instagram with 3.7 million videos using the related hashtags, which were also used on twitter, #ALSicebucketchallenge and #icebucketchallenge.

That’s the fun part, the silly part which saw Ben Stiller nominate Rafael Nadal, Mark Zuckerberg nominate Bill Gates who then built a huge contraption in order to ice himself. However the real reason behind the ice-bucket challenge was to raise awareness and funds for the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Association and thereafter its UK equivalent, the Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Association.

Pre-ice bucket challenge, the MND Association would receive on average £200,000 a week in donations. From 22 to 29 August, it received £2.7m – more than 13 times its usual average. And in the one month where ice-bucket challenges took over, the ALS Assocation received $98.2m – a whopping 36 times that which it received during the same period the previous year. Similar to the #nomakeupselfie campaign, this campaign was not started by the charity itself, although it was begun by two sufferers of the disease, Pete Frates and Pat Quinn.


Not every charity can expect to see Oprah and the Beckham family joining in with their social campaign, but that’s not to say that these types of campaigns are not worth attempting. They all start from somewhere and who’s to say what will catch on?

Earlier on this year, Asthma UK created their own social campaign #scarfie. Asthma UK pointed out that, durign the winter months, covering your nose and mouth with a scarf can drastically reduce the symptoms asthma sufferers encounter and so asked their followers to share a selfie where their noses and mouths were covered. Within seven days of this campaign beginning, the charity had reached more than a million people and seen an increase of 740 per cent in the number of new Facebook followers compared with a normal week and a 220 per cent increase on Twitter – even Dame Barbara Windsor joined in.

Don’t forget the hashtag

Whether you’re a charity or a fundraiser, there are lots of simple ways to start a similar campaign. The two things which tend to work on Social Media are things in which people can participate and things which are shareable.

Why not ask people to take a picture of themselves holding up a sign with their reason for donating? Or ask everyone to wear a particular colour on a particular day to raise awareness? As long as you ask people to share these images, people are bound to discover your campaign.

And don’t forget the hashtag! Hashtags are the most simple way for people to engage with a social campaign on twitter and Instagram so get creative but keep it snappy!


RideLondon fundraising hero: Georgia cycling in memory of her father


On Sunday 31st July, Georgia Isaacs will will be one of thousands of cyclists taking to the road for the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100. She’s riding in memory of her dad, Michael Isaacs, who sadly died the day after her 18th birthday in November 2011. Georgia told us her story and we’re delighted to feature her as a guest blogger today.

Why RideLondon?

“I’ve waited a while to do something in memory of my dad because I just wasn’t sure of the right thing to do. Then I went to watch the the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 on Box Hill a few years ago and I knew it was exactly the challenge I wanted to take on. Now I’m here… terrified but incredibly excited!”

Michael Isaacs

“My dad devastatingly lost his battle with cancer after an honourable fight. He worked up until 3 weeks before he died and never ever let us know how much pain he was actually in, which made the news that he only had days to live a complete and utter shock. All of our lives were turned upside-down.

The Princess Alice Hospice

“On my 18th birthday my dad was taken to the Princess Alice Hospice, Esher. The Princess Alice Hospice is a wonderful, calming place that is far from what I expected a hospice to be. They put their heart and soul into making sure dad’s last hours were as comfortable as possible and tried their very best to ease our pain too. With a team of doctors and nurses caring for dad medically it enabled my mum to go back to being his wife and just be at his side.

“You are always welcome back to the hospice to look round the gardens, light candles in memory or just sit in the cafe and remember your loved one. We were, and still are, so grateful for the amazing job the staff do in such an emotionally tough environment.


“Training for this ride has been very physically challenging as well as emotionally. I have not had dad here to help me with the things I had always depended on him to do such as oiling my bike, fixing punctures and helping when my chain comes off. I am so grateful for the people who have been able to help me and subsequently teach me all of these things and more.georgia bike

“I wish so much dad could be here to cycle with me, something I am sure he would have loved to have done. I try my hardest to remember that any pain I endure during the training and on the day is nothing like the pain my dad was in.

“My dad was my absolute world and I would do anything to have him back and for our family to be whole again. I still can’t get my head round the fact he is no longer here.”

How you can help

You can support Georgia’s challenge via her Virgin Money Giving page.

RideLondon fundraising heroes: Ben Paul is cycling for White Lodge

ben paul for blog

On Sunday 31 July, Ben Paul will be one of thousands of cyclists taking to the road for the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100. But Ben isn’t simply taking on an epic cycling challenge, he is doing it to raise money for White Lodge Centre.

The challenge

RideLondon brings together numerous different types of cycling for one big festival; with events from free cycles to fold-out-bike racing with everyone taking part from elite cyclists to families. Ben will be taking part in the RideLondon-Surrey 100 which is the 100 mile race on the Sunday.

Ben and fellow supporters decided RideLondon would be the best challenge to take on in order to fundraise for their chosen charity, White Lodge, to help support their Campaign Team James.

The charity

The White Lodge Centre is a charity which supports disabled children, young adults and adults, their families and carers in Surrey and throughout the surrounding areas. They specialise in care for those with a diverse range of disabilities, including cerebral palsy and other similar conditions. It costs over £2.5 million a year to run the White Lodge Centre which is not fully met by statutory sources, so they rely on voluntary donations to maintain the vital services they provide to numerous children, including Ben’s son James. Ben tells us

“James has just turned 4 and is making fantastic progress towards achieving many important milestones and overcoming challenges – not least because of the fantastic services, support and therapy that he receives from White Lodge Centre, including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, hydrotherapy, and speech and language therapy. Thanks to White Lodge, James will be able to achieve one of my greatest wishes in that he will be able to walk, unaided, into his first day at mainstream school in September.”

The training

Ben and his team have all been training separately until last weekend when they got together as a team and cycled 75 miles of the route including the Surrey Hills! He tells us “We are a mixture of abilities and experience, but will work together as a team to make sure that all of us get around and finish as that one team.

Ben tells us that finishing as one team, knowing that we have raised as much money for an incredible cause, is what will keep him going round that 100 mile course.

How you can help

To help support Ben’s campaign, you can donate directly to his fundraising page or if you’d like to do your own fundraising for Team James, you can open a page under their Campaign.

Charity spotlight week: Top 10 Social Media tips

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With fresh sites and apps popping up all the time, what seems like a new online language and overwhelming stories of success, sometimes Social Media can seem a bit daunting.

Once you get started, however, these things are easier than they seem and can be a great way to reach out to new and existing donors, fundraisers and partners and to expand your knowledge.

If you start by registering on Facebook and Twitter and then following our 10 simple tips below, you’ll be well on your way to joining in with the crowds of trending, viral hashtaggers which could increase support and donations for your organisation.

1. Ronseal cover photos and logo profile photos

Make sure someone who has never heard of your organisation can get a good idea of what your focus is from your cover photo and can see your logo clearly in your profile picture.

2. Follow and Like relevant people

Search key terms, individuals and organisations related to your cause and follow them on twitter or Like them on Facebook to stay up-to-date in your sector

3. Friends and family

Ask friends and family to follow your pages and Like and share your content to help you get started

4. Stay on message

People need to get what they expect when they visit your Facebook or see your tweets so decide your area of interest and target market and stick to it

5. Use Pictures and Video

If you have a picture or video for your post then use it – these posts are always more popular

6. Be genuine

Interact online as you would in real life – it’s great to show an interest in other people’s activities too. Updates about employees in your organisation and volunteer activities help build a rapport with supporters

7. Communicate

As well as following people related to your cause, be sure to comment on, Like and share their posts in order to build relationships and establish yourself in your sector

8. Budget for Tweet/Facebook promotion

With both Twitter and Facebook you can put money behind your activities in order to reach a wider audience. This will publicise your message to more people so is an easy way spread the word

9. Make posts shareable

To encourage re-posts, create images which people will want to share. This year after the Virgin Money London Marathon, we created this post which people shared to show their friends and family they’d completed their challenge; this not only spreads your Social Media page, but also encourages friends and family to donate

10. Help is out there!

A quick search turns up plenty of free, charity specific blog posts, training, advice and social media services

Charity Spotlight Week: Meet Campaign Manager Carolyn


As part of our Charity Spotlight Week, we were lucky enough to hear from Virgin Money Giving’s Campaign Manager, Carolyn.

“My role at as Campaign manager at Virgin Money Giving is to deliver marketing communications to both charities and fundraisers to help raise as much as possible for the charities we work with.

Having been the official fundraising partner for the Virgin Money London Marathon, we’ve developed our skills and knowledge of what makes a successful fundraiser, and have helped many hit some pretty daunting targets. Given the focus of today’s Charity Spotlight is Marketing, I want to share with you some of the learnings that I’ve gained over the years having delivered many activation campaigns/programmes. Although these tips are aimed at charities, most can also be used by fundraisers when contacting donors.

Tip 1 – Plan your contact strategy

Its important to think through the journey your supporters will be going through during their fundraising, as well as bearing in mind the reasons they may be doing it. Fundraising can be an emotional time for many, so regular contact from their charity will help them to feel supported and give them a real sense of purpose. The three key things for a charity to do is welcome their fundraisers from the start, support them throughout with fundraising tips and inspirational stories, then congratulate them after. Everyone likes to be told they’ve done well and feel like they’ve contributed to a greater good.

Tip 2 – Start talking early

When someone chooses to fundraise, they have made the conscious decision to pick their chosen charity and it’s important right from the off they feel supported throughout their fundraising journey. Helping supporters understand how important their fundraising efforts are is likely to give them a real boost and make them want to raise as much as possible.

Tip 3 – Email marketing

As more and more emails are sent from companies, more and more are being left unread, but when you receive an email that’s relevant to you and serves a strong purpose, you are likely to read it and take it in.

The best time to send emails to donors or fundraisers is evenings and weekends, as most people give their personal email address. Subject lines should be short and to the point, as this is what will determine whether an email is read or not; a maximum of 50 characters is the ideal. When sending emails, try to make sure they are mobile optimised; we have found the majority of our emails are viewed on a tablet or mobile device.

Remember, a large amount of content doesn’t always make your email look better. If there’s a clear message or action you would like the recipient to take, then just stick with that. Another tip is to re-send the email with a different subject line to those who don’t open it first time around. We’ve found this can increase open rates by more than 10%!

Tip 4 – Help your fundraisers improve their pages

Fundraising can often be a hard task for people, especially given how often people are asked for donations these days. We’ve discovered a handful of things that fundraisers can do once they’ve set up their Virgin Money Giving Page which can really help drive the fundraising up. These are:

  • Set a target; people who do raise a lot more than those that don’t
  • Personalise your fundraising page with a story and photo
  • Share your link on social media
  • Try to ask people for donations around payday
  • Explain to donors how the money raised will be spent

Tip 5 – Spread the word using social media

Social Media can be a cheap and effective way of getting your charity work out to a larger audience, as well as bringing people together. Sharing fundraiser stories, talking about up and coming events as well showcasing how the money raised is being put to good work are all great stories to tell on Social Media.
It’s also a great way to keep up to date with what we at Virgin Money Giving are doing to support charities and fundraisers; we often run incentives, competitions and promotions to help drive interest and will always talk about them on Facebook and Twitter.

If you would like more tips and advice, I would recommend booking onto the free Marketing, Social Media & PR training webinar as well as browsing our website and our blog which are full of tips and tools for charities and fundraisers alike.”

Charity Spotlight week: Campaigns tool

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To talk about our Campaigns tool, we welcome a guest blog from Virgin Money Giving Account Manager, Hazel Martin.

Campaigns tool

“Our Campaigns tool enables you to bring your supporters together for a common objective – whether that be for a specific appeal, a corporate partnership, a group of friends or celebrities etc to show collective effort.

Charities can personalise the campaigns page with their charity colours, logo, story, photos, videos, plus add an appeal or corporate logo as appropriate and have a specific campaign URL which can then be easily shared via social media.

The page can also be customised with up to 6 bespoke donation amounts, descriptions and images to really bring to life what difference the donations will make to your charity.

Finally as part of setting up the campaign page charities are able to ask 2 additional questions if relevant e.g. how did you hear about our charity or what size of t-shirt would you like. This data is available in your charity reports.

There are numerous charities who are already reaping the benefits of using this to galvanise their supporters into action whether making a direct donation or taking part in a fundraising activity/event as part of the overall campaign.

Using the Campaigns tools for events

Another great thing about the Campaigns tool is you can choose to switch Gift Aid off when you set up your charity page meaning that you can also use Campaigns for taking subscription fees, selling tickets or event registration fees etc.

This enables charities to collect subscription or event registration fees online through cards or PayPal which can be easily tracked and reconciled through Virgin Money Giving reports. It will also provides email receipts to individuals.

Want to find out more? Then come on our free interactive training held every Friday at 1030am. You can find out more and book via our website.

Malawi Flood appeal campaign

Following the torrential rains and flooding in Malawi, Joshua Orphan and Community Care created and publicised their Appeal page within 24 hours. Originally their target was £5k, which they raised to £10k very quickly and updated the page on a regular basis so donors knew they were working hard on the ground, responding to the disaster and keeping their information up to date, informative and engaging. They smashed their fundraising target raising over £15k which was beyond their expectations.

They found having a main focal point for all their donations, rather than just directing people to a ‘general’ donation page, enabled them to strengthen their message to their donors that all the money donated would be spent on that specific appeal and nothing else. They loved the fact that you could create a memorable appeal page name and that they were able to have specific donation amounts with associated powerful images so donors knew exactly where their money was going.

Joshua Orphan and Community Care promoted the appeal Campaign URL using Facebook, twitter, blogs, their website and then both e-news and print newsletters. It was also featured in a newspaper in Dorset. Their most successful avenue was Facebook, followed by twitter. Because they had an easy way for people to donate, the online campaign brought over 200 new donors to the charity – which for a charity of their size was just incredible.

Heather Head of Fundraising Joshua Orphan & Community Care

Mind 3000s

Mind ambassadors and TV personalities Matt Johnson and Anna Williamson will lead two teams of celebrities and Mind trekkers on a gruelling 24-hour challenge called the Mind 3000s to raise £50,000 for mental health. Matt and Anna and their team-mates are asking you to show your support and help us reach our fundraising target by making a donation. Maria Healy Head of Events for Mind said;

Our VMG campaign page for the Mind 3000s provided the event with huge benefits. The page gave the overall fundraising campaign a focus, so whilst individuals were fundraising for their individual targets, they felt empowered to see how their individual contributions effected the overall group target. As a result the team felt more motivated and pushed themselves to go above and beyond the £50k target that was set for them. As a result of this additional motivation, the event raised closer to £60k.

Using Campaigns for Corporate Partnerships

As part of our commitment to companies, we offer a free service to set up a corporate ‘hub’ page and where companies will have a named account manager to help them maximise the amount raised for their chosen charities. We can also offer bespoke management information reports based on an individual company’s requirements. Here are some examples

After using Campaigns for Dixons Carphone Race to the Stones 2016, Kesah Trowell, Group Head of CSR for Dixons Carphone, said

“Virgin Money Giving have supported Dixons Carphone’s corporate fundraising for the past three years and we’re delighted with the service we’ve received. Thanks to their ever-helpful and effective account management and flexible site functionality, Virgin Money Giving simplify the donation process, freeing us up to focus on the ‘fun’ in fundraising for our charity partner, The Mix!”

Wendy Spencer from Asda Finance said;

“At Asda, we’ve been using Virgin Money Giving for some time now. One of our biggest fundraising activity events here at Asda is the Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge, where we fundraise specifically for Tickled Pink. We’ve received individual help from the team in setting up our fundraising pages and it’s made it so easy for us, we just provide the information and they do the rest, even making changes at the last minute.  The team gave us many tips to help us motivate others with their fundraising, regular emails and phone calls really do manage to help us focus and inspire us to do more”

Michaela Zulman from TLC International told us;

“We used Virgin Money Giving for a global campaign across 10 of our offices around the world. This allowed us to have one central platform for all of our fundraising events, enabling everyone to watch as our numbers grew and encouraging everyone to achieve even more. Despite this being a huge project, the process was seamless and stress-free, aided by the personal relationship we had with our account manager who was on hand and helpful whenever it was required. We look forward to using Virgin Money Giving again in the near future”


Charity Spotlight week: 5 top tips on what makes a good fundraising page?

good page

1. Share your challenge

If you’re taking on a challenge, you should be shouting it from the rooftops. Whether you’re sitting in a cold bath of baked beans, baking cakes until your fingers ache, jumping from the terrifying heights of a plane or running 26.2 miles, make sure that your friends, family and colleagues know exactly how much effort you’re going through to raise money for your chosen charity.  Martin Phillips explains exactly what he’s missing out on to take on his fundraising challenge.

2. Set a target

This one is simple: our research has shown that people who set a target on their page raise more than people who don’t. So stick a target on your page, whether it’s a target
hundred quid or a five figure sum, it will give you something to aim for and could even sway your donors to give a little bit extra to help you get there. Natalie Turner has smashed her target with more than 7 weeks to go!

3. Tell your story

It always helps to ensure that anyone who reads your fundraising page knows exactly why you’re fundraising. It gives your page a much more personal feel if you can get across the reasons you want to help your chosen charity or charities and donors are more likely to identify with what you’re doing. Mike Hatton’s page explains well why he is taking part in his challenge and Channon Titley gave a great example of how telling a story can give your page a personal feel.

4. Make it look good

Making sure your fundraising page is easy on the eye is always a good way of keeping people’s attention when they land on your page. Make sure you add a picture and you can always go the extra mile like Anish Modgil did by adding lots of colour to his page or like little Riley who has lots of pictures to illustrate his challenge.

5. Bring it back to the charity

The charity is the reason you’re taking on your challenge, whatever it may be, so don’t forget to remind people of this on your page. Let your donors know the incredible work that the charity does and, if possible, let them know what the money you raise will mean for the charity, David Johns and Big Boys Do Cry did.

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