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Contributed by
The Orchard Trust

Overview

The Orchard Trust is a Gloucestershire-based charity that runs care homes and supported living facilities for people with learning disabilities and special needs. Alongside live-in care, the charity provides a wide range of day services and activities. This includes an accessible activity park and a seventeen-acre smallholding in which service users can build confidence and self-esteem by handling and working with animals.

Each year, The Orchard Trust holds a traditional Summer Fair on their smallholding, which serves as both an open day and a fundraiser, usually raising around £2,500. When the COVID-19 restrictions came into force in March 2020, the charity initially rescheduled the event for later in the year. When they were forced to cancel the physical event for a second time, they decided to transform their annual get-together into a virtual event.

Their first-ever virtual Summer Fair was hosted on Facebook and included a variety of entertainment, with a big emphasis on interactivity. The charity carried many of their traditional entertainments across to a digital setting, such as videos of local bands and a Punch and Judy show.

As well as free entertainment, the event included online fundraising activities including a virtual cake baking competition, a raffle, the ‘loveliest father’ competition, and a pet show with more than 70 pets entering. All of the entertainment was pre-recorded and played on the day, including a video of drawing the raffle.

Although the event wasn’t planned primarily as a fundraiser, the day was a huge fundraising success, raising as much as the physical event.

Recipe status

This recipe has been in use since May 2020.

We are not sharing this recipe as the perfect solution to a problem, but we believe The Orchard Trust’s learnings could be very useful to other organisations.

Users and needs served

We are not sharing this recipe as the perfect solution to a problem. But we believe The Orchard Trust’s learnings could be useful to other organisations.

  • As a supporter, I need to engage with the Orchard Trust and show my support
  • As a supporter, I need to know that the Orchard Trust are prioritising people's health and doing the right thing to keep people safe
  • As a member of staff or volunteer, I need to carry out fundraising and community outreach work remotely

Software and tools used

Facebook

Facebook is one of the most popular social media platforms, with over 2.7 billion monthly active users.

It has many uses for charities, including connecting with supporters and promoting and livestreaming events.

Its fundraising functionality is easy to use and eligible charities can include a free donate button for people to donate directly on their Facebook page.

Cost

It is free to promote and stream events on Facebook. Facebook charges no fees for charitable donations made through the platform and 100% goes to the charity.

If your charity is new to Facebook and you want to build an audience of interested people to support your cause or sign up to your event, paid advertising is an option. This allows you to put money behind any post you make, with the aim of expanding reach.

Considerations

Paid advertising on Facebook, though more effective, is not a silver bullet. You still need to consistently post great content with a specific audience in mind. Charities with smaller advertising budgets may face competition from campaigns with more resources.

Virgin Money Giving

Virgin Money Giving is an online donation platform. The Orchard Trust used the platform to create bespoke donation pages for different fundraising activities at the event.

Cost

Virgin Money Giving charges a one-off payment to use the platform, on top of a 2% platform fee and a 2.5% payment processing fee on donations. Gift Aid is processed free of charge.

However, the donor can choose to cover the fees instead, so the charity receives 100% of the donation plus Gift Aid.

Considerations

Virgin Money Giving is a well-regarded platform that is easy to set up and integrate with social media outreach campaigns. If donors cover service fees, charities can end up with more than the initial donation, due to Gift Aid.

There is not a lot of customisation available on Virgin Money Giving in terms of charity branding. Charity’s can attach their logo, but they will not be able to customise the page much further than that.

Mailchimp

Mailchimp is a popular email marketing platform that allows charities to automate marketing emails and promote their events and content.

Cost

Pricing varies according to the number of contacts in your mailing lists.

There is a free plan available that includes up to 2,000 contacts and 10,000 sends per month, with a daily send limit of 2,000. This also includes a limited set of basic email templates and basic reporting, with the ability to send and track one-click welcome emails.

The next tier of subscription, Essentials, offers pricing based on your contact count and monthly send limit ten times your maximum contact count. You have access to all email templates, and the ability to schedule whole email campaigns.

Mailchimp offers a 15% discount on paid subscriptions for charities.

Recipe steps

1. Create an initial plan

● Form a team and assign roles

● Host a virtual meeting to brainstorm ideas

● Build a timeline for your day and the schedule of events

2. Decide how you will host the event

● Decide on the online platform that best suits your users

● This should preferably be one where you already have an audience and a following

3. Set up donation pages

● Set up donation pages ahead of time - one for each fundraising activity happening as part of your event

4. Start promotion and outreach, and organise corporate sponsorship

● Promote your event, your donation pages, and your schedule of the day's events on social media

● Find corporate sponsors in the local business community to boost your income

5. Showcase your charity's work

● Use the day as an opportunity to educate people about your charity

● Mix up your content with behind the scenes videos and use them to give people insights into your charity and its work in an engaging way

6. Schedule content

● Upload content on the platform ahead of time and have pre-recorded content ready - leave as little as possible to be done on the day

7. Follow up with supporters and donors

● Don't forget to thank anyone who signs up using automated 'thank you for booking' emails and keep them up to date with information on your event

● Ensure you're responding to comments and emails, answering questions, and keeping up interaction with supporters on the day

● Assign someone to oversee this role

● Some supporters may opt-in to further communications from your charity. Ensure that you keep engaging with these people and bring them in to your charity's community

8. Collect feedback and evaluate

● Keep people involved after the event

● Using a free survey tool like SurveyMonkey, collect feedback from attendees on what they enjoyed and what they thought could be improved next time

● Look at data from your fundraising platform and social media engagement and try to identify patterns you can learn from

Guidance

Just have a go! You don’t need many digital skills to get started.

Wherever possible, schedule content ahead of time. This will save you time on the day and reduce the risk of error.

Analyse data after the event to gain useful insights on what worked and what didn't.

Remember that while a virtual event takes less work and resources than putting on a physical event, face-to-face events still have a role to play and generate a lot of goodwill.

Risks

Because there is less of an investment in terms of resources, virtual events represent a lower financial risk for charities than traditional events. However, there's always the risk that the event won't be as successful as hoped, so it's good to have a back-up fundraising plan in place.

When working with social media there is a risk of hate speech and other inappropriate comments. You need to assign someone to moderate what people are posting to the event page.

Thanks

Many thanks to The Orchard Trust for contributing this recipe.

Licence

This recipe is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.

That means you are free to copy, redistribute, and build on the text of this recipe, but only for non-commercial purposes (if you want to use it for commercial purposes, get in touch with us at [email protected]). You must give credit to both Catalyst and The Orchard Trust and link back to this page. If you build on this recipe then you must share your version under this same licence.

Recipe published on March 24th, 2021. Last updated March 24th, 2021