From Willies to Murder: Innovation in the sector

Innovation is a big buzz word at the moment and something the sector talks about a lot but are we ever really doing it?

There are a few campaigns I’ve seen lately that I think are interesting and worth reading about – some of them I would say are innovative and others I think are a step in the right direction. What do you think?

Treat, are pioneers in income generation; they’ve understood that the sector is treatchanging and there’s a space to find new ways to generate financial support.

From their extremely successful Charity Concierge service to their new product ‘Treat’ I would recommend trying to get into their headspace for a day. Treat is a service for employers to thank their employees and celebrate success.

You can try Treat for free here.

Whodunnit?, Macmillan Cancer Support

At home supporter-led activity has become so popular in the past year that it’s hard to find something that is truly innovative. Macmillan has capitalised on the popularity of escape rooms and murder mystery to create your very own stay at home murder mystery party.


Professionally done with an interesting storyline, I’ll certainly be keeping my eyes peeled on the fundraising results – I might even throw a party myself!

Best to do your event before 25 March so you don’t catch any spoilers on social media (but you can take part year round). Get your game pack here.

Feast your Eyes, Fight for Sight

Supper clubs are a dime a dozen but there’s something special about Fight for Sight’s ‘Feast your Eyes’ campaign. Not only does it connect their supporters to the cause, and creates a new tantalising experience but it’s simple to run with a delicious twist.feast-your-eyes

The concept is simple, host a dinner party but where you dine in the dark. Dans Le Noir in London has been incredibly popular for years, so why not recreate at home!

Feast your Eyes happens all year round and you can register to host an event here.

The Great Willy Waddle, Orchid

This September if you were to stumble towards Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park you will no doubt find lots of people dressed up inflatable penises (is that the plural? We’ll go with it!) to raise money for Orchid, the male cancer charity.orchid-wheres-willy-2016-26-750x437

Not necessarily inventive – we know lots of runs, walks, cycles with a fancy dress twist (I can still remember the hoard of gorillas running towards me one sunny September day a few years back). I like how bold, silly and downright fun this event is – whilst raising money for a very worthy cause!

The Great Willy Waddle happens on 26 September 2017 and you can register now here.

London Landmarks Half Marathon, Tommy’s

The challenge event market has exploded in the past few years, so what’s do unique about a new half marathon – especially one happening in London?llhm

Tommy’s have been bold enough to arrange and run their own half marathon in London but not only can people enter to raise money for Tommy’s, charities will also be able to buy places for their supporters. This is a fantastic event that merges fundraising with income generation and a really lovely route to top it off. The London Landmarks Half Marathon is on 25 March 2018.

You can pre-register for the London Landmarks Half Marathon here.

What do you think?

What innovative or interesting campaigns have you seen that you think should get noted? Tweet me @Holly_Christie or comment below so others can hear about them.


Where’s the love? Board fundraising as matchmaking

Do you love your charity?

Of course you do!

People like us who work or volunteer in the charitable sector do so because we love it.

We love the impact we have on the people and communities we serve. We are proud to lead the changes we believe are most important to our world. We put our hearts and souls into it. And we do so with love.

Do you love fundraising?

If you’re like most people I meet, the answer is “no”.

Sure, maybe you get why fundraising is important for your charity. After all, more money means more impact, more people served, more change.

But the act of fundraising probably leaves you feeling “icky” like you’re begging. Or maybe you don’t want to put your family, friends and colleagues, on the spot. Chances are that you feel like you don’t have time to fundraise and that even if you did, you don’t know where to start.

In my experience, many people feel like fundraising takes them away from their authentic self. That it’s salesy and pushy.

But I know that fundraising is actually about inspiring people and being your most authentic self – someone that is passionate and committed and wants to do good work in this world. That is, when fundraising is done well.

There is so much opportunity for organisations that can get their fundraising house in order and I believe it needs to start at the top.

We all know board fundraising is a challenge. If it’s not for your organisation, congratulations! But honestly, most charities, especially small and medium ones, struggle with it. But it’s also an area of huge opportunity. A board engaged in fundraising can be the difference between failure and success, regardless if you have fundraising staff or not.

And here’s the thing. Even though 70% of board members don’t feel confident around fundraising, 85% want to help and want to know how to fundraise. You get it – you know how powerful an organisation can be when all the board members are out there fundraising and building a community, you just don’t know where to start.

So I want to share with you one major insight for your board that you need to commit to memory.

Something that if you learn nothing else about fundraising, you remember this:

Fundraising is match making. It’s all about the love.

Your mission in fundraising is to find others who will fall in love with your organisation too. It’s about finding your tribe and building a community.

When you start to understand that fundraising is match making, magical things happen:

You realise there are plenty of fish in the sea.

Not everyone you know will be a donor to your charity. Fundraising is about finding your tribe. Then, you build a relationship to help them come to value and respect that work and understand its importance.

You understand that you don’t propose on the first date (especially if it’s a blind date!)

Asking for a donation is like a marriage proposal. You don’t propose marriage on the first date. Similarly, you take the time to get to know your potential donors before asking for a gift.

The most successful asks are the ones where you’ve tapped into their hearts and aligned their dreams with your organisation’s ambitions. That takes some time.

You get that it’s about a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship

If I asked you why you continue to support your charity, what would you say?

Likely that you get just as much value out of your involvement as the charity does. I have had million dollar donors THANK ME when they give because it’s so meaningful to them to see their values and dreams come to life.

Your best donors are the ones who will be giving year after year (at any amount). Why? Because it’s mutually beneficial. By this point, they are in love with your organisation too.

Fundraising can be done in a way that is authentic and comfortable and the great news is, this will lead to better results! More money raised, greater community impact.

Cindy Wagman is a fundraising coach and consultant who is on a mission to teach charities to love fundraising. Her course to teach board members and trustees how to fundraise in a way that feels comfortable and authentic while being effective, what the fundraising! is open for registration now. Visit

Saving babies’ lives with Humpty Dumpty

I remember about a year ago I was sat at the Media Trust Summit in the beautiful Museum of London listening to Emma Sheppard the Head of Brand and Communications at St John Ambulance. Emma shared with us all an incredible ad campaign called ‘The Chokeables’.

I remember feeling completely in awe of a campaign that not only challenges the brand perceptions of St John Ambulance but shares practical lifesaving skills and knowledge to parents of young babies. And the biggest win – the video was funny, engaging and not scary one iota.

I did wonder – what next?

Just last week – a year on, I was scrolling through Facebook whilst waiting for the bus where a friend had shared a photo of a new babygrow she had got from Tesco. On the inside were instructions on baby CPR – made in partnership with St John Ambulance.

This partnership with Tesco is a continuation and a great addition to St John Ambulance’s Nursery Rhymes Inc. campaign. Tesco gave away free limited edition babygrows in their selected stores on the 13 October and also helped raise awareness and funds for St John Ambulance.

There’s still an opportunity to bag a babygrow by entering their competition here.

Why baby CPR?

Other than the obvious, that it can save a baby’s life – the most startling statistic for me was:

Parents told us that their baby not breathing is the first aid emergency they fear the most, yet only one in four know what to do.”

I’m confident that St John Ambulance’s incredible team with the Nursery Rhymes Inc. campaign and further ventures such as the one with Tesco will result in more parents knowing what to do.

I’ll certainly be sharing these videos with every parent I know.

Diversity in Fundraising

TPP Recruitment have just released their 2016 ‘Charity Fundraising Salary Survey’ and I find myself reminded that we’re still not there yet in terms of diversity within the profession.

Back in 2013, the Institute of Fundraising released a report on ‘Diversity in the fundraising profession’ and one of the main findings was that fundraising was a profession that was less diverse than the general workforce of the voluntary sector.

It’s a shame that the people who dedicate their careers to raising money for causes that seek to change the world and make it better for people (and animals), has a problem with diversity. It begs the question, what are organisations doing to ensure diversity not just organisation-wide but also within teams?

I know from my volunteer experiences that teams that reflect all parts of society are more innovative, reflective, constructive and generally more successful.

We can be pleased that the gender pay gap is narrowing with female fundraisers now earning 12% less compared to 20% in 2015. However, a profession that is heavily dominated by women, around 74% of fundraisers are women, it is striking that the gender pay gap exists. This is further accentuated as seniority increases. Nearly a fifth of males were working at Director/CEO level compared to just under a tenth for women.  So in a profession dominated by women, men are more likely to climb the ranks and secure those top level positions.


Interestingly the gender pay gap increases with seniority, with male counterparts likely to earn around £5,000 more per year.

More gender

It’s unsurprising that the Fundraising Magazine’s annual 50 Most Influential list for 2016 had 34 men listed, and if I remember correctly this number isn’t particularly changing from previous years. I’m not disparaging the work of the men on the list, but it would be nice to see a bit more diversity in future.

I couldn’t find stats anywhere regarding trans* people in the fundraising profession, I, therefore, think it’s safe to say that trans* people are massively underrepresented within the fundraising profession. I’m not sure the survey questions are even open for people who do not identify with male or female and therefore they would be unrepresented within the report.

As a profession and generally as a sector, we’re never going to be able to change the world and create meaningful change until we look inwards and see what we need to do to create change and diversity within our own workforces. The third sector needs to lead the way, not follow behind, dragging our heels, refusing to pick up the pace.

The stats released regarding ethnicity, disability and sexuality are not surprising either. It’s no surprise that people with a disability are more likely to work for charities that have disability support and rights at the heart of their cause. Similarly, for ethnicity and sexuality; it can’t be a shock that charities campaigning for change and respect in those areas find it particularly easy to attract, recruit and retain employees who identify with the cause. If you go to any charity under the umbrella of ‘women’s causes’ you will see a larger percentage of women employed and in all levels of seniority. We all deep down, as fundraisers, want to help in our day to day lives the charity that has helped us the most.

It is everyone’s responsibility to keep pushing change, to ensure that as fundraisers we are representative of ALL the beneficiaries that our collective charities help (I’m not saying we should look to hire dogs, cats and pandas anytime soon).

Stats taken from

Institute of Fundraising ‘Diversity in the Fundraising Profession’ 2013

TPP Recruitment ‘Charity Fundraising Salary Survey’ 2016

Ghostly Fundraising

Forgive me in advance for what may be considered a silly post.

I always love seeing new and interesting ways that people choose to fundraise for causes close to their heart.

The other day I was out for a walk with some friends of mine. We meet up and do self-guided ghost walks of London, using this amazing book from Richard Jones ‘Walking Haunted London’. Although a slightly geeky pastime it does introduce us to new parts of London and most importantly all routes will take you to pubs with interesting stories and history. So I have a good backlog of great pubs in London, which is always handy.

Our latest walk took us to The Grenadier in Belgrave Square. A cute little pub tucked down a mews which was incredibly difficult to find!

The pub is so called after a young Grenadier whom is said to have been caught cheating at a game of cards. As the story goes he was savagely beaten to death by his comrades and it is known for a solemn, silent spectre to have been witnessed creeping slowly across the pub.

To pay for is debts visitors of the pub are said to attempt to pay off his debt by attaching money to the ceiling, after a century-old tradition, it truly is an amazing.


Whilst in the pub I saw a wall of newspaper cuttings about the pub and my eye was drawn to the article shown below from the Daily Mail from Friday 13 June 1969.

The article describes a young girl who recruited friends to stay in the cellar of The Grenadier, and asking for sponsorship from friends and family to raise money for The Spastic Society, now known as Scope.

Ghostly Fundraising1

I was delighted to read this small newspaper story, to see how people have always been innovating to find new ways to raise money from their friends and families. Walks, runs, treks, cycles and bake sales are great, because they work; but there’s something thrilling of the idea of these girls choosing to do something they’re scared of to raise money for a cause they care about.

It made me realise that people often put themselves at their most vulnerable or in situations that terrify them the most to raise money for causes that are important to them. From skydiving, to swimming the channel, to a 5k run to sleeping in a cellar that is rumoured to be haunted.

I commend the thousands of people who are putting themselves out there because it’s important to them to make a difference to their family, friends and wider community.

Just as importantly, if you’re in London, visit the pub, it’s brilliant!

P.S. You may have noticed that I decided to publish this blog 47 years after the newspaper article was published.

Plan UK | My experience as a child sponsor

In October 2014, I made the decision to sign up to Plan UK’s child sponsorship programme. I wanted to help children and their communities in a long-term and impactful way.

I had always derided the thought of child sponsorship, I didn’t think it was an effective way of helping communities. When I heard about Plan UK’s child sponsorship model I realised that it was an outdated version that I knew about. Plan have been pioneering child sponsorship for 75 years and you can tell.

Through Plan’s child sponsorship, the funds are used to drive change at a grassroots level, and using, most importantly, local people to drive this change. They make real long-lasting changes that help not just the sponsored child but the whole community. On their website, they state that the child sponsorship money helps, improve educational opportunities, create medical infrastructure, improve sanitation facilities and prepare for disasters.

It was after reading more and reading testimonials from children and sponsors that I decided that I would take the step to become a child sponsor.

When you choose to become a child sponsor you can choose from three things, the continent, their age and their gender. I decided that I would like to help the communities that were in the most needed as identified by Plan and therefore would leave it quite free. I did, however, decide that I wanted to support a girl. Especially as I know that around the world girls are usually the most disadvantaged.

Plan UK

Zoila-Magdalena Cuc

Zoila-Magdalena is four-years-old who lives in Guatemala and she is the little girl who I sponsor. When I first received an introduction to Zoila-Magdalena from Plan Guatemala I saw that her date of birth was the same date as my sister, which made me smile.

I learnt a lot about Zoila-Magdalena’s family and community; the housing, education and health situation in the area, as well as their access to water, toilets and health facilities.

I also received a message from the Program Unit Manager, Juan Gómez Polochic. He told me about the challenges facing the local community and their plans on how to make it better.

Since my first letter from Zoila-Magdalena which I received in November 2014 and can be seen below (she obviously didn’t write it, she was four!), I have communicated with her and her family and it’s been a pleasure to receive photographs and hear more about how she is growing and how her life is changing.


It’s also been great engaging with a country that I knew little about, through the sponsorship I have learnt more about the community, their culture, the challenges they face and what a normal day is like for children there.

Read more about the impact of child sponsorship.

I don’t regret my decision to become a child sponsor and I’m looking forward to hearing about Zoila-Magdalena’s life for the next ten years and maybe once our relationship has grown and I can afford it I will be able to visit her in Guatemala and see first-hand the different Plan International are making.


Why I’m supporting Mind

Last week I received the heart-breaking news that my friend had decided to end her own life.

MindMy friend was a mental health nurse and had dedicated so much of her life to helping those affected by mental health, like her.

Prior to this happening I had been fundraising for Mind, the mental health charity. I had chosen to run a series of races for Mind – even though I’m a beginner runner – because so many of my family and friends had been affected by mental health conditions.

I felt that it was important to support a charity that is in an uphill battle to fight stigma, break down barriers and support people affected by mental health with improved services and access to those who need it.

After hearing about my friend it really hit home how important what I was doing actually was.

Laura on my Sister’s Hen Party


So this year I will be running the 5k Superhero Run in May, Kew Gardens 10k in September and the Royal Parks Half Marathon in October ready to do a Marathon in 2017! I’m a complete novice at running and so all three of these is a huge challenge for me, but now, I’m more determined than ever.

I chose to raise £500 initially but I’m already close to beating that target and I’m incredibly confident that I can double that before the year is out.

For every mile that I run, for every pound that I raise, I will have my friend in mind. It will be for her memory and for the loved ones left behind.

I’m hosting the best pub quiz you will ever have been to on the 30 June in aid of Mind so do come along.

Or if you’re feeling generous sponsor me on my Just Giving page.



The Choir with No Name: Laughter, tears and a soul uplifted

Last week I attended a comedy evening in aid of the fantastic charity The Choir with No Name at the beautiful Union Chapel.

The evening hosted by Miles Jupp and featuring a stellar line-up from Josh Widdicombe, Seann Walsh, Sarah Kendall, Justin Edwards, Jess Robinson and poet John Hegley. The evening wasn’t like any other comedy fundraising event I have been too.

In the interval I was delighted to have been treated to a few songs from the two London Choirs, singing together and really showing the incredible impact of the work the charity does.

So who are The Choir with No Name?

Put simply the Choir with No Name runs choirs for homeless people and other men and women from the very edges of society. They were founded on the premise that singing makes you feel good and they were spot on.

We heard from an old choir member, who joined the Choir in 2008 and eight years on is doing amazing. The Choir helped him turn his life around. He now has a life filled with music and love.

It was amazing going to a charity comedy night, which not only entertained me in a way that only good comedy can (trust me you need to see Jess Robinson, her Julie Andrews singing ‘All about that bass’ impression is fantastic), the evening also made me realise how important and impactful a simple message can be.

It’s simple. They change people’s lives by creating a safe space where for a couple of hours a week they can forget all of their worries and sing their hearts out. And if a snapshot of the testimonies below is anything to go by, it really does work.


I was also particularly impressed by their corporate sponsors Links Resourcing and MillMoll Ltd, whose support enabled the Choir with No Name to actually put on the event but also ensure they get 100% off the proceeds from tickets and bucket collections.

Event small charities can bring in corporate partners that can make a huge difference.

Take a look at their website, and if you’re feeling generous, donate. They need your support.

Future gigs?

22 May – Community Spirit 2016, Birmingham Symphony Hall. Tickets here.
29 June – CWNN London Big Summer Gig, St James’ Piccadilly, London.
15 July – CWNN Birmingham Big Summer Gig, MAC, Birmingham.

British Science Week, an opportunity to innovate and inspire. Our partnership with 3M.

British Science Week is in full swing, beginning on Friday 11 March we are already on our fifth day and the British Science Association’s offices haven’t stopped buzzing!

Today, 15 March, we are celebrating one of our key supporters for British Science Week, 3M. A fantastic science-based innovative company that is much more than people in white coats in a lab.

Wynne Lewis, 3M’s R&D Director, wrote this brilliant blog post for the British Science Association in celebration of British Science Week. In this blog, Wynne talks about why 3M don’t recognise failure and how ‘science applied to life’ is integral to the innovation and work that 3M do every day.

I’m really pleased that 3M have become a partner of the British Science Association’s and I can’t wait to show everyone what we have in store for later on in 2016!

Read Wynne’s blog post here.

This British Science Week we have thousands of events taking place across the UK. Find one near you on

Event fundraising: getting the concept right

Exactly one month ago I took part in Refuge’s Walk4 and I was reminded how important it was to not only have an event that was engaging but a concept that participants could get behind.

The concept around Walk4 was brilliant and incredibly thought-provoking. Walk4 Refuge because 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence. We crossed four of London’s most iconic bridges (Tower Bridge, Southwark Bridge, Millennium Bridge and Westminster Bridge), and whilst doing so supported Refuge to provide vital services that will keep women and children safe, whilst working with them to rebuild their lives, free from violence and fear.


Walk4 put at the forefront of everyone’s minds that shocking statistic of 1 in 4 women and a very visual reminder by walking over four of the most iconic bridges in London.

Walk4 became not just a great fundraising event but additionally became a solidarity march, on that day we were there as participants, survivors, allies, fundraisers, and activists.

Participants were well looked after all the way through, from a very cheery welcome to great marshals along the route cheering you along, to a lovely reception at the end; where you were greeted with a smiley face, free drink, and a goodie bag.

Refuge got the whole day spot on and that’s in the most part due to their amazing staff team; hats off.

I hope that Refuge raised a great deal amount of money to help them continue their vital work. I look forward to the Walk next year and I really can imagine it will grow into something huge.

If you want to make a donation to Refuge, here’s my fundraising page.