Is events fundraising all caked out?

Karin Weatherup | January 29th, 2015

MS Society Cake Break

Rootling through our archive for something the other day, I found an old folder called ‘Macmillan Coffee Morning’ with the word BEFORE scrawled on it in fat black magic marker.

It contained materials passed to us from the 2011 event, when Macmillan asked us in 2012 to help them come up with the messaging and integrated creative that could breathe new life into the event.

Three years on, income from the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning has leapt from £10-£25 million, and we can say, it worked!

There’s nothing like a visual ‘BEFORE’ to remind you how far you’ve come. And looking through the folder only served to emphasise for me why there is still room for other ‘cake’ events out there, if they too are prepared to reinvent their stories.

The thrust of the old Coffee Morning materials from 2011 was ‘Let’s make it the biggest ever’ and the focus was on the charity wanting to make it a much bigger fundraising event with more people raising more money. It was about what the charity wanted, not what was in it for potential hosts.

Contrast that with the new positioning we launched in 2012, and tweaked and rolled out in 2013 and 2014, and it’s not rocket science how the new messaging and creative helped propel Coffee Morning into the stratosphere.

Make time for what really matters to you speaks straight to the needs of busy women, caught between children, work and often helping elderly parents. It gives them a perfect excuse to have a precious moment for themselves and get together with the people they don’t see enough of. It says personal pleasure, not just shaking a donation box to make the event bigger because that’s what a charity wants.

The new improved World’s Biggest Coffee Morning gives. It doesn’t just take.

BUT – and it’s an important but – it is also highly cause-related. If you have a cancer connection, or a Macmillan connection in particular, ‘what matters to you’ will not only be getting together for a moment with your friends, it will also be helping others going through cancer. So it works both ways. Pleasure. Cause. In equal amounts.

Yet so many of the fundraising events that we’re asked to have a look at fail on this fundamental principle.

Many are just bland.

This is usually in the hope that if they don’t say, ‘We’re for people with a connection to this particular cause’, they will somehow appeal to the whole world. Which is pretty unlikely. Even Macmillan doesn’t appeal to the whole world, it appeals to people with a cancer connection.

Then there’s the school of thought that makes the event only about the cause and raising money. Where’s the pleasure in that?

Put together cake plus pleasure plus an unapologetic ‘your cause’ connection, however, and we’re rolling. You get cut-through to your best audience, rather than get lost in a sea of Victoria sponges, cup cakes, tea and coffee.

The whole world may not be waiting for your event, but the piece of the stratosphere you can own could be.