Mass participation: finding the holy grail of volume and value

Jaz Nannar | May 21st, 2014

What matters to people? It’s an important question that is going to be at the heart of where mass participation events go in the future.

Fundraising Magazine’s Fundraising First Thing debate served to shine a spotlight on this.

Taking part in a charity event should fulfil a need that isn’t satisfied by handing over £3 a month. And the more we identify what matters to people, the more we can judge the likelihood that people will take part and contribute financially – the likelihood of fundraising success.

Night In for Macmillan works for lots of reasons. Top of the list is the fact that it taps into something that people want to do. Have a night in with the friends they don’t see enough of. For lots of us, that’s a natural, easy and pleasurable thing to do. Add on top the opportunity to raise some money for cancer – brought to you by Macmillan.

It’s the same for Coffee Morning. What’s not to like about spending time with friends, families, colleagues and peers – with coffee and cake thrown in for very good measure?


The holy grail of volume and value for mass participation events is more likely to be achieved by layering things on in the following order: what matters to people, do they care about your cause, and could your charity fulfil what matters to them and offer a solution to the need/problem/issue they want to tackle?

Take the time to get the thinking right and you’ll see the rewards. Look at Prostate Cancer UK. Mark Bishop, their director of fundraising, shared the journey the charity has been on. From not targeting the male audience in the early days (because women are typically the ones who push the men to the doctors/into action) to focusing very much on men and what matters to them. As a result, the charity is harnessing the relationship between dads and their sons, even tapping into more primal ‘man lights fire’ aspects, hopefully being displayed in barbeques up and down the country this summer.

I take my hat off to Prostate Cancer UK for tying together their fundraising with campaigning and health education so well – and in doing so creating a movement of men behind their cause.

Save the Children have the considerable might of their brand to support them. But still, for the Christmas Jumper Day event to work it had to be rooted in where the audience were at. In this case, they spotted that we were buying and wearing statement Christmas jumpers and they rightly felt there was money to be made out of this trend. As Terence Lovell from the charity is well aware, the trend is unlikely to be long-term, but it has resulted in £2 million for the charity and a considerable impact on brand awareness.

MacmillanSave the Children and Prostate Cancer UK have coherent, clear strategies that are rooted in the audiences they are trying to serve. Can your charity say the same?