Once again, we have rounded up our fundraising year with a very successful Big Give Christmas Challenge. As a result, palliative care in Ethiopia will be over £9,000 better off, which means that more patients like Subira (not her real name) can be cared for by medics trained in palliative care. Subira suffered from severe pain secondary to a carcinoma affecting her eye until it was controlled by medicines and advice provided by expert nurses from Hospice Ethiopia.
So, who are we? We’re a small UK registered charity called Hospice Ethiopia UK. We don’t employ anyone, but with our volunteers we raise funds to promote and support palliative care in Ethiopia. The Big Give Christmas Challenge is an annual fundraising event established by the Reed Foundation which is open to UK registered charities. The event occurs in the first week of December each year. The attraction to donors is that each donation is matched, i.e. donors have their donations doubled. We find this is a great incentive to our donors.
Is this too good to be true? No, if charities can steer through the modest (but manageable) online application process (help is available from webinars and in our case by youthful IT savvy volunteers). Half of the donations made to the Big Give Christmas Challenge are matched by pledgers found by our charity – sweet talk your most loyal donor(s) – and half by “champions” who have agreed to help match funds donated via The Big Give Christmas Challenge. Thus, as with any fundraising activity, charities need to make a good case for what they do and why.
What happened for us? We set a target of £8,000 to be raised (i.e., £4,000 from donors matched by £2,000 from a generous supporter of Hospice Ethiopia UK and £2,000 matched by a “champion” organisation). In fact, we were delighted that the donations exceeded £4,000 and with gift aid on the way we will have more than reached our target.
What did we learn? 30% of donors were new to us; the Big Give Christmas Challenge’s large network spreads well beyond our relatively parochial donor base, thus significantly increasing our database of donors. As the Big Give is run entirely online it has been a God Send in this pandemic year with most of our fundraising events cancelled. Careful planning is essential: in early summer, we spent time devising a “project” with Hospice Ethiopia in Addis Ababa which fitted our anticipated funding target. In the run up to the donation week our volunteers worked hard to publicise the event through email, social media and the old-fashioned written letter. This is key to having a successful donation week.
What now? Hospice Ethiopia will be funded to develop a range of standardised palliative care courses, approved by the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Health, that can be delivered across Ethiopia.
Will we do it again? CERTAINLY!