In January 2018, I decided to sign up for a challenge! I was going to be celebrating my 50th Birthday in November, and I wanted to give something back to the place that I live and work in. Salisbury Hospital has been caring for me, my family, friends and colleagues for a number of years and so the Salisbury District Hospital Stars Appeal Charity was my first choice to fundraise for.
The charity had organised a trek of the Great Wall of China via a local adventure travel company called Discover Adventure. It was the third trek of its kind in support of the charity and 50 people signed up to take it on. The criteria to join was to raise £2880 – or fund the trip yourself and raise at least £1440 for the Stars Appeal. Very generously, Personnel Placements paid for my trip, so I had £1440 to raise but set myself a target of £5000. Now to think about how I could raise that money before I started out on the trek on 27th April 2019!
The first thing I decided was that as well as asking for straight donations, I’d also organise a series of events as I think it’s much easier to get support if people get something out of contributing to a cause! Personnel Placements is a local, Salisbury based business, and I knew the secret was to use my network. I decided upon two main events that I could sell to my clients and local businesses as well as a summer Afternoon Tea event that I could invite friends and family to come along to. I also got myself a mascot – a very large panda – and had a competition on Facebook to name him! Zŏu Zŏu came everywhere with me and featured in virtually all my posts! Zŏu Zŏu or 走 in Chinese means to walk, to move, to leave, to pass, to go – so very apt!
Once the events were decided on I created a series of e-mailshots to send to my contacts, but I needed more publicity and as I was trying to raise as much money as possible didn’t want it to cost anything!
Social Media Becomes my BFF
I use Social Media a lot in the business, but it became an even better friend to me! Firstly, I needed to decide which platforms would be the most effective for promoting my events but also how to use them as a way to ‘reward’ my supporters. In the main, here at Personnel Placements, we use Twitter and Facebook to connect with our clients and candidates and LinkedIn with people we have previously networked with.
Our quiz evening was set for May 25th and I started with thinking about how I could not only get teams to sign up but also how I could generate extra income. I wrote to many local businesses inviting them to submit a team, and also offering them the chance to sponsor a table, sponsor the winner’s trophy or provide a raffle prize. In return, we would shout about their generosity and promote their business across our social media platforms. This worked well, as news of their support was shared both on the lead up to the evening and during the event itself. Photos of their table adorned with their company logo were posted, and I included the #ChinaTrek hashtag as well as tagging in not just the business sponsor but the charity every time. The Stars Appeal were great at liking, commenting and sharing this content to their followers – who in turn liked and shared! I posted a lot on Twitter and used #Salisbury and #LoveSalisbury as another way to attract attention locally to what we were doing. The #SalisburyHour on Twitter was a great way to bring in more sponsors and teams. On the night we had 96 people join us and raised over £1500!
Twitter Followers Helped Us Raise £3100
Our biggest event was a Charity Dinner and auction. We had 50 tickets to sell for this event, and within a week of the email invitation going out, we had sold 80%. A final push on Social Media saw us sell out!
The difficult task was getting prizes for our charity auction, but again social media came to my aid! We were looking for items to fill two Salisbury hampers, and using twitter, again with the relevant hashtags, were able to spread the word and suggest businesses donated a small item to showcase their product or service, and I had several local businesses tweet back to say they wanted to contribute! I collected each of the prizes in person, and photos were taken with Zŏu Zŏu, my Panda Mascot. These were posted across both Facebook and Twitter. I also always included local press and radio user ‘handles’ and they again were really supportive in sharing the posts. These posts worked well on both Facebook and Twitter as they were much more visual. On LinkedIn, I took a different approach and shared news of my fundraising progress after each event rather than using it as a way to ask for donations as it felt the right approach for that audience – my Just Giving page link was included though!
The Director of Fundraising at Stars Appeal commented about our fab social media coverage of my fundraising when I went on a tour of the hospital to see the amazing difference they make to patients and their families – so I knew it was doing what I had hoped! The local press and radio station picked it up, and we had articles in several local publications both online and hard copy. So the social media coverage resulted in news of my fundraising being shared to an entirely different audience.
Selfies With A Panda
Who doesn’t love cake?! Zŏu Zŏu, my mascot, became a familiar face at networking meetings and everyone wanted a photo with the panda! One networking group that I belong to, Women on Wednesday were happy I provided cakes to buy each month and photos were posted in anticipation of the baking, during decorating, wrapping and delivery on the day. These provided great visual posts that I used across all my social media platforms, including Instagram. Zŏu Zŏu also attended the launch of a ‘star bake’, something our neighbour and local baker Paul from Henderson’s Bakery created and sold for two weeks to add £228 to my total! Henderson’s are part of a group called Salisbury Indies, and they were really keen to come and take some photos and use them across their own social media to promote Salisbury independent businesses.
Training For The Trek
My training and that of my fellow trekkers was something I also posted about. I included photos of the people and the landscapes we saw as we walked. These posts really showed how we were working hard to make sure we completed our challenge and gave my audience a chance to really get to know me and the people I would be trekking with. I didn’t ask for anything in these posts. I was conscious not to overdo it with asking too often, and I wanted people to see more than just the fundraising part of my challenge.
Before I left for China, I posted a series of ‘Thank You’ posts as #FF #FollowFriday tweets on Twitter and tagged in posts on Facebook, including all the people and businesses who had supported me over the past 18 months, and I also popped in my Just Giving page information. I had quite a few additional donations whilst I was away in China, which was amazing to come back to!
I did manage to hop onto the internet once whilst I was in China – although I had promised myself a digital detox! I managed to send a few photos back that the team at PP shared to show that I was actually doing what I had set out to do, plus the steepness and amount of the steps we were climbing, as well as the sections of unrestored wall, which was a bit like rock climbing at times! On my return, of course, I have shared a few photos of my adventure. Zŏu Zŏu was a little too big to come with me to China, but his little brother ‘Junior’ was tucked into my rucksack pocket, and he shared the experience with me.
To date, my fundraising total stands at £10,163, and I really couldn’t have raised that much without the support of my newest BFF…Social Media!
From a business point of view, the extra exposure on Social Media has also helped us reach new audiences and gain new followers on each of our platforms. The press coverage as a result of my social media campaign has also given us some free publicity, which although wasn’t what I set out to do has been a brilliant way to showcase our business ethos and let people in Salisbury get to know me, Team PP, and our business better!
There is still time to donate, as Lynne’s Just Giving page closes on 24th June when the grand total will be calculated and announced to the Trekker Team on 10th July!
Lynne is Managing Director of Personnel Placements and has been recruiting in Salisbury and the surrounding area for over 15 years. PP as it is affectionately known within the local business community is a generalist Agency that has been supporting local companies with their recruitment and HR for over 30 years. They are also an active member of TEAM – The Employment Agents Movement – which enables them to source candidates from all over the UK.