Day 18 of 100 Days

Sarah Swaysland

Monday, 18th January, 2021

According to Healthline.com, it can take anywhere between 18 to 254 days for someone to form a new habit and an average of 66 days for a new behaviour to become automatic. That means, that I could potentially be forming a new habit any day from now. I admit, it would be weird if all of a sudden I woke up tomorrow and didn’t have something to keep me busy, but I also keep wondering if I’m going to feel an inescapable need to continue volunteering daily when I reach my 100 day target. So far, I have got a bit of a taste for daily volunteering, and I’m certainly not bored or overstretched just yet.

What: Fundraising and Comms
Organisation: Only A Pavement Away

Today, I had a catch-up with my friend Karen and started to make a plan for our regular donor campaign to attract more people to donate monthly if they can. I’m also working on a project which has a similar objective with DLAG, but what’s really interesting is the different approaches we’re taking. Both charities are very specific in terms of market and what they do, and while with DLAG we’re using the very specific route of building relationships with our local councillors, with OAPA we’re using a very broad brush and going the social media route – hitting the world with stats and insights. I’ve made a start on creating some new graphics which we can queue up proactively on social media. They consist of statistics (e.g., So far we have raised £18k to fill the hospitality pay gap fund) and quotes from OAPA members that we’ve helped. We’ve also put together a content calendar to feel a bit more organised, as it feels like we’ve been very reactive lately (which we have) and that can get quite exhausting after a while. I’m spending a lot of time on OAPA this week, although it feels like a lot of what we’re doing will help ensure we have to do less work on the projects in the future. I feel like between us, me and Karen are putting in a solid base which will set us up for what we have coming later in the year – launching the Life Skills Hub and going international (Scotland). Karen is a fellow volunteer and she’s also studying full-time, so she’s got a lot on her plate. Luckily, she’s studying charity fundraising and marketing, so she has a good case study to go with.

One of the things I’ve learned during this challenge is that charity fundraising is tough – it’s no wonder that most charities have entire teams dedicated to it. There’s applying for grants, which is straightforward enough if you have your story, goals and accounts all in line but it’s the regular giving campaigns that are really tough - and they are the bread and butter campaigns. With more people losing their jobs and another recession to have to live through, people are clinging onto their pounds because they want to keep something concrete. Money is something tangible that can offer some form of security - if you have enough of it. With that in mind, it's challenging for charities to promote regular giving campaigns. Everyone has at least one cause, and the real difficulty is how to appeal to each individual (why should they pick your cause?) and then keep them engaged enough to keep giving on a regular basis.

Just to give you an example of my causes – and this honestly isn’t me fishing for sympathy –they include prostate cancer (my dad is a survivor), bone cancer (my dad currently has it), autism (my son has it), blindness and degenerative eye diseases (my brother has Stargardt disease), sex/pregnancy discrimination and gender equality (I suffered from it previously, but was made to sign an NDA, so please don’t ask me about it) and dementia (my grandad died from it). I’m not working at the moment, so a monthly direct debit to donate to these causes would be insanity right now. Also, where can I fit in the charities and causes that I feel passionate about? I’m passionate about the environment, cricket and ending homelessness, but how would I fit that into an already full purse of charitable causes? I’m not in a position to donate cash, but I can give back by giving my time. I think there is a way of finding a balance between giving a skill and a regular amount of cash. Personally, I think my contribution to OAPA (AdWords, fundraising, project planning) is worth more than a modest sum of monthly cash. I’m personally a bit bored of the standard adverts on television where you are asked to donate ‘just £5 per month’ so I’m wondering if there is a way of turning the donation/fundraising model on its head in a way which will enable people to help as many causes as possible without being drained or made to feel guilty by advertising campaigns. I’ll have to give this some more thought…

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