Archive for the 'Fundraising Tips' Category

Whatever you do, be creative

“Being happy to be alive and urging for more progress with brain research is my #ReasontoRun

One thing we’ve learned this week is that when you’re fundraising, it’s really important that your donation requests, your story and your page stand out. If they are different, if they grip your supporters, you interest people and interested people make donations. If there’s anything you can do to really bump up your donations, it’s to captivate people with your creativity.

This week, we spoke to fundraiser Michael Nollet. He’s raised over £3500 so far for Brain Research Trust, who research neurological conditions such as brain tumours and Alzheimer’s Disease. We believe his fundraising has been successful because of how he shares his story on his blog.

Be unique

One way to grab people’s attention is to share your story your own way. Give it your own personality, and if you can, add photos to help people visualise it. Michael’s story worksMichael Nolet - Early 2006 well because he presents it not only in a blog, but in a comic strip that’s easily digestible, quirky and gets his point across.

Have fun with it

Don’t be afraid to share the positives of your story; the moments that kept you going, or made you smile and step back for a minute. Michael does this by taking one of his most vulnerable moments after his surgery, and turning it into something funny. It’s okay to laugh; if anything, it helps people connect with you.

Give people a reason to explore

Michael says, “Design a site people can surf around a bit with. Better they feel there’s more to explore – so long as it’s interesting – than that they’ve seen it all on first visit.” He does this by having separate tabs to help guide people to the content they want to read: ‘My Story’, ‘My Blogs’, ‘Gratitude’ and ‘DONATE’.

Find a thread

Michael says, “Create an excuse to keep blogging – whether it be milestones in your fundraising or simply a mile per blog.” This way your blogs are connected so people know what to expect, and they’re more likely to come back to read again and, with any luck, sponsor again. This way they can follow your whole journey.

Mix it up

“Keep your blog content varied; repeating the same sort of stories gets predictable which could mean people will stop following your blogs,” Michael tells us. His blogs vary from sharing his own experiences of having a brain tumour, to how the research can help so many different causes. It never feels like the same story, there’s always something new, a different angle, something fresh.

Keep it up

Michael says, “Get ready for an initial burst in sponsorship followed by a big drop off. Each blog’s worth lots of potential sponsorship, so work hard at them all.’ So if you make sure to post regularly, you can maintain people’s interest and keep the donations coming in. People can’t forget about you if you keep them in the loop. At the same time, each blog needs to have a purpose – post every day and you might lose people’s interest.

Share photos, not just links

Michael says, “Don’t just post links to your blog on Facebook – add photos.” This way your blog can reach more people, and also catch more people’s attention.

Help them understand

If your supporters can really understand what happened, they can understand your motivation. Michael lets his supporters into his memories, so they can really feel how he felt when he had a seizure. It’s the difference between just telling them what happened, and helping them feel as if it happened to them.

60 seconds. Thousands of aggressive, electrical charges force my fingers to move in random directions.  Someone else is in control – I’m a passenger in my own body. I want whatever’s taken over to stop. But the waves keep coming. If only I could stop this invasion

Give it some perspective

Michael shares how one of his friends – who also had a brain tumour – said “I have the MRI scans at home… and I have one framed on the wall. When I am having a really bad day I look at the scan and think if I’ve dealt with that – then it doesn’t seem as bad.” With his Michael Nolet - Stitched Upown scan in the blog, it shows the reality of his situation and helps you to really appreciate the everyday moments, and why his fundraising is so important.

Bring it back to fundraising

Michael often writes about his cause as a way to connect to his fundraising, like this excerpt from his blog:

“The good news is that the average brain generates around 50,000 thoughts per day. However, the bad news according to scientists is that disturbingly 70% of these thoughts in most people are apparently negative!

So with a cheeky smile, and in the words of my friend Tom Burmester, I say to you: Do something good! Sponsor Mike.”

Not got a lot of time?

Don’t worry, you can still take a few pointers from Michael. If your event is coming up soon, you could create a photo based blog with shorter written text, or you could write about the countdown itself, or maybe even as a way to let people know what’s going on in the run up to the day, and how things went on the day itself. You can put as much or as little into it as you like, but whatever you do say, don’t be afraid to be yourself with it.

Have you found a creative way to share your fundraising story? Share it with us on Facebook or @VMGiving


Be your charity’s hero

“My #ReasonToRun is that following my battle with Testicular Cancer and chemotherapy, I will continue to run with fight and determination for those who can’t, whilst fundraising along the way.”

Putting your charity front and centre of everything you do, really helps to drive your fundraising and get your supporters to really understand why it matters.

We caught up with Jonathan and his wife Lauren, who have run 12 Marathons each and raised over £54,000 from seven of them. Whilst it takes dedication to raise this much, everything they did is simple and easy to apply to your own fundraising.

Know what drives you

Jonathan starts by saying it’s incredibly important to know “why you’re doing it”. He adds “If you’re not running because you have a personal connection to your charity, you have to know your drive for doing it. And your supporters have to understand why you’re doing it too. There are all kinds of stories, you just have to find yours.”

Embrace your charity

What makes the real difference for Jonathan is he is personally connected to all his charities. Jonathan has had cancer, has been personally treated by Chai Cancer Care and has come out the other side. His mum Valerie was also a volunteer for Chai Cancer Care, and North London Hospice enabled her to pass from her own cancer with dignity and in peace. “You need to know exactly what your charity does, and why it really matters to you.”

Share your vision

Knowing what he was fundraising for and having a goal in mind really helped Jonathan. Whilst his mum was alive, he had a target of £50,000 for his charities. He’s now surpassed that and is hoping to raise £1000 for every year of his life – only £4000 to go to hit his target this year! Plus, Jonathan says, “having someone to support and help you keep going is a real game-changer; running without my wife would just not have been the same.”

Make a personal connection

Jonathan is happy to nudge people. He gets most of his donations simply by emailing people personally. If it’s addressed to them, they’re more likely to take notice. He’s taken the time to build a relationship with his supporters, and sends over 500 emails for each Marathon.

Make your charity visible

Just by wearing his charity vest on his training runs, he’s been able to meet new people he wouldn’t have normally and get new donations. It helps that his charities are both local, and people recognise his vest and start talking to him. Also by talking about his fundraising in his day to day life, he’s been able to get donations even from acquaintances. People just need to know about it.

Keep your supporters involved

Jonathan isn’t afraid to follow up with the people he’s asked to donate to his page, particularly to those who have expressed an interest, but have forgotten or haven’t gotten round to it. He also makes sure to go back and thank people for their donations, and let them know how he’s getting on.

Ask first to get generous donations

Starting early in December really made a difference to Jonathan. This way when he’s asked people for donations, they’re likely to give more generously to his page. He says “If you leave it later, people often give less as they’ve already donated to other fundraisers.”

Don’t ever give up

Jonathan shared the fact that he’s run the New York Marathon, the Chicago Marathon, the Berlin Marathon and it’s his sixth Virgin Money London Marathon. He tells us that his determination really came out for New York. He had intensive chemotherapy for 3 months, and only had 8 weeks to train for the Marathon. He said at the time:

“One last thing, I can’t promise I will start the 2015 New York Marathon. I can’t even promise that if I start the 2015 New York Marathon, I will finish it……But one thing I promise you, I WILL TRY TRY TRY”

With the help of friends and family, he raised a staggering £12,000 in just five days.

Have you gone the extra mile to inspire more people to donate? Share how you did it with others @VMGiving or on Facebook

Heidi takes on fundraising with Instagram


“My #ReasontoRun is my baby James and all the steps he will never take and to raise funds for Tommy’s so they can help future babies find their feet rather than their wings.”

Coming up with creative ways to keep up the momentum of your fundraising can sometimes leave you feeling a bit stuck. But often it’s simple things done well and using every day tools such as social media which really does rally the crowds and help keep you motivated.

Meet Heidi – not only has she smashed £2000 (and still rising) in donations for Tommy’s, who research how to save babies’ lives, she has also cracked Instagram to a T.

It’s clear that Heidi really does know how to work her audience, so we got in touch to find out a bit more about her story and how she’s approached her fundraising.

1. Use hashtags to get connected

Heidi says, “It’s about finding the right hashtag to connect with others. You need to find out what others are using.”

Heidi uses #thisisforbabyjames to personalise her story and to make it easier to follow, and also uses #marathontraining and #babyloss to connect with like-minded people.

2. Take people on your journey

When Heidi shares a photo, she makes sure to share the story behind the photo. She says that you need to “find something memorable in your runs. People need to be able to imagine what was happening. They need to find emotion, feel something and get lost in it. They need to connect with people.”

3. Choose your photos with a purpose

Sometimes a photo speaks a thousand words. Finding powerful photos really help tell your story. Heidi says “pictures help you to find the words when you just don’t know heidi1what to say”. One of Heidi’s photos is her Tommy’s running vest, which is covered in 63 stars; each one represents a child who was lost whose family she has met on her journey.

4. Connect with your charity

Heidi says that tagging the charity you’re running for is a great way to keep up to date with what you’re charity is doing, which allows you to share your learning about your charity with others. This ensures you’re always creating new opportunities to fundraise.

She adds “Tagging can also be reassuring. It’s the opportunity to talk and be supported by your charity so you’re never on your own. They understand and they want to support.”

5. Share your target

Heidi says that when you share your target and your running total, “people who’ve donated get excited. It’s all about looking how far we have come – the fundraising is a team effort.”

Sharing her target was a great way for Heidi to keep everyone involved and focused on a collective goal. It’s a call to act now rather than later. She adds “It’s making everyone feel good and getting the buzz going. Everyone wants to be that person to get you over the line.”

6. Thank people

Heidi says “Share your appreciation and people will be inspired to share your story again and feel a part of your team.” Regular sharing also means you’re rarely out of sight, therefore out of mind.

7. Make your Instagram public

Heidi says “Having a public page helps to open up your fundraising to a wider network. It doesn’t matter if people don’t know you because it’s easy to be compassionate when it’s close to your heart. People want to get on board, and it’s contagious.”

8. Start posting early and post regularly

Make the most of the time you’ve got. Heidi’s been posting for 29 weeks, and the Marathon isn’t until April. She’s showcased her whole journey so far, kept everyone up to date and taken her followers on her journey with her. She’s a constant reminder to her followers of why Tommy’s is so important, and why they should donate.

9. Mix it upheidi2

We know Heidi’s journey is not just about running. It’s about support, hard work, emotions, memories, brownies and more! She’s shared stories of raffles, new things she’s learnt about Tommy’s and those very special moments with her family that make it all worth it.

10. Always link back to your fundraising

Seize every opportunity to share a link to your fundraising page and include a link to your fundraising page in social posts or emails. Don’t forget to include it in your profile like Heidi.

If you want to change your URL to make it easier to remember, just sign in and select ‘change address’.

Have you cracked social media to inspire more people to donate? Share how you did it with others @VMGiving or on Facebook

Sticking to the New Year resolutions


Need a hand sticking to your New Year’s resolution?

Feeling guilty after too many mince pies last Christmas, and determined to get in shape this year? Had too many weekends binge watching the latest Netflix trend and want to get active? Or maybe you got a little too merry last year and want to put down your wine glass for Dry January.

Whilst picking your resolution might be easy, sticking to it can be hard.

Get your New Year’s resolution off to a good start, by giving yourself another reason to keep going. Instead of just running for you, run to make a difference to the people or causes you care about, and ask your friends and family to sponsor you for every step you take. Instead of just giving up your glass of wine, donate what you would have spent. Instead of just giving up your couch potato habits, donate your time to volunteering.

Of course, your first step is to set up your Virgin Money Giving fundraising page.

Set yourself a goal

Decide what you want to achieve and share it as much as you can. Let your friends and family know what you’re doing and why. Write it down, put it on your fundraising page, your social media pages, or even post-it notes round your house or office. Never forget what you want to achieve and, even more importantly, why you want to achieve it. What difference will you make?

Be specific

You want to keep yourself motivated, so keep timescales in mind. Factor in that some weeks, things will crop up and get in the way. If you want to start running, set yourself a distance you want to run or if you give something up, decide whether you go cold turkey or reduce the amount per week.

Don’t give up

Some days it will be harder than others, but don’t give up if you hit a bump in the road. Just because you didn’t meet your target or slipped up one day, doesn’t mean your resolution is over. Nobody’s perfect. What matters is that you pick yourself up and try again the next day. You can do it!

Celebrate your successes

Celebrating your successes will make it easier to recognise what you have achieved so why not set yourself milestones and celebrate each one? Think about doing a weekly shout out of what you’ve achieved to remind yourself to keep going, and to ask others to support and sponsor you.

Make it a game

See if you can compete with yourself by remembering where you used to be and comparing that to where you are now. Remember the difference and keep striding towards it. Team up with friends, compete against each other and support each other. You could do a weekly tally of who had the most steps, who had the most donations, or who completed a whole week.

Get committed

Remind yourself every day why you’re doing what you’re doing and the difference it will make. Find out what your resolution will do for your charity, what difference you could make to them and the people they support. Find out what your time and donations means to them, and share it with your supporters.

If you haven’t already, set up your Virgin Money Giving fundraising page and stick it to those New Year resolutions.

Calling all Mo Bros and Mo Sistas this Movember


If you haven’t seen already, this month the Mos and beards are coming. Movember doesn’t have to involve growing a Mo however, but can also also moving for a mo, to raise awareness of male cancers and mental health. Movember is the time to tell the men in your life, big or small, old or young, that we’ve got their backs.

You can donate to the Movember Foundation today or, if you fancy giving fundraising for Movember a go yourself, set up your fundraising page and read on for our fundraising ideas.

Grow it

First thing’s first, if you don’t have a Mo, take a photo now for your before photo. As soon as you’ve taken it, stop shaving and start growing. Grow it any way you like, let it run wild, or shave it so it grows the way you like. And if you like, compare your before and after pics with your mates, and have a vote off on your fundraising page of who has the best one.

Style it

If you’ve already got a Mo or a beard, Movember can still work for you. Instead of being sponsored to grow one, you can get sponsored to style it. Get your supporters to donate and vote on your page which one to go for. They could vote for colours to dye it (you could use hair dye or mascara), the style you trim it, or even how you accessorise it – have you ever seen a glitter beard? Maybe get festive and wear mini baubles in your beard. Or if you dare, let your mates or family style it for you!

Make it

For the un-hairy of us who can’t grow Mos, why not make your own out of cardboard? Just download some tash stencils for you and your mates, glue some sticks to them and make your own Mo props. You could make it a photobooth style competition of who can make the best tash – while those with Mos could decorate top hats instead. You could cover them in wrapping paper, make them fluffy with cotton wool, or go retro with some diamante beads. Alternatively, stick your Mo on the TV screen, and see who can get the best photo of an actor wearing it.

Move it

Maybe you fancy your fundraising a little less hairy and a little less crafty. How about moving this Movember instead? You can do anything, just as long as it gets you off the sofa and on your feet. Heck, maybe not even your feet! You could do a sponsored handstand, or a Queen’s chairlift dash (where two people interlock their arms and run, whilst carrying the ‘Queen’ who tries their hardest not to fall off). Or make it simple and organise a 5k run – maybe even run with Mo balloons? Whatever you do, get your heart racing and move it for the guys who can’t.

Next steps

You can make a one off donation or regular donations to the Movember Foundation or set up your fundraising page and make a difference today.

Remember remember to fundraise this November


Bonfire night is a great time to start a clean slate in the run up to the New Year. There are lots of ways that holding a bonfire night could raise some money for your chosen charity so set up your Virgin Money Giving page, and see which of our ideas could see you on your way.

Hunt for wood

Before you begin the night, you’ll need some wood for the fire. Why not get sponsored to clean up the garden waste from your friends and family? Put as much as you can in the compost, and any suitable wood or twigs can go towards the bonfire pit. Plus you could use a work volunteering day and clean up a community garden.

Let it go

Go for a clean sweep and let it all go. Give your friends and family little paper notes to write on, and for a donation, write something you’ve been holding on to and chuck it into the fire. Anything you don’t want to bring into the next year. Or if you like, make it a wish.

Light it up

Swap donations for sparklers and write away with light. You could make a competition in teams of who can write the most words, or take the best photo. Make it a game of charades of who can guess the film from the swirls of light, or who can finish the catchphrase from the shining clues.

S’mores for charity

Fancy a tasty treat or two? Then delve into s’mores and get the marshmallows out. Compete to see who can make the best, and swap the goodies for donations to your page. Make them as you like – maybe toffee and banana instead of chocolate, or make mini pizzas with mozzarella and tomato.

Remember don’t burn any household waste, and be mindful of hedgehogs and mice that might be burrowing in your garden!

Run as fast as you can this Halloween!


Whatever you do, don’t look back. Don’t stop. Run.

With Halloween creeping up on us, there are a few great ways to not only celebrate Halloween and keep up your fitness, but also do a bit of good for charity.

Zombie Run – survival of the fittest

Can you survive the zombie apocalypse? With shows like the Walking Dead, zombies are on the rise, and getting even deadlier, creepier, and if they’re from World War Z, zombies-sseven worse, faster. Now you can run away from them for real at the same time as raising money for your charity.

If you dare, download the Zombies, Run! app on iPhone or Android, and run away from zombies on a 5km, 10km or 20km challenge. For the brave, the app tunes into your real time running, enabling zombies to ‘chase’ you – or at least in your headphones –  causing you to sprint to avoid the hoard when they catch up or else you fail your mission.

This app will not only get you fit, but it will get your adrenaline going as you hear the zombie hoard groaning in your ear. You can either select a story mission, an airdrop to run to in order to collect supplies, or run a specific distance race. Why not challenge friends to see who can complete the challenge fastest?

Just set up your fundraising page and get running. You can get people to donate to choose which mission you do, where you run to if it’s an airdrop, or sponsor you to beat a set time or distance. Get extra donations if you enable zombie chases, and even more if the hoard doesn’t catch you!

If you’re training for the Virgin Money London Marathon next year, this app will not only help you get out the house to train, but it’s also a lot of fun too – just don’t let the zombies catch you!

Fancy being undead instead?

If you’re already one of the hoard, see if you can gather your groaning buddies and set up an organised scare event to fundraise for the living!

Just get the living to donate to enter – and with any luck, they won’t be donating their lives too… Just remember to warn the living that they enter at their own risk.

Either set it up as a track run, or find a local park to play a game of zombie tag. Once you have willing victims (please, no unwilling victims!) to be your runners, chase them until they reach the safe zones. Charge donations to enter the game, and keep going in heats until there’s only one survivor – every time someone is caught, they must join the zombie hoard. Prize goes to the lone survivor – they get to stay with the living and maybe win a treat or two if they’re lucky.

Your ideas

Have your own spooky fundraising ideas? Why not let us know on Facebook or twitter?

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