Why I love Children In Need

It’s Children in Need day today in the UK, one of a couple of extraordinarily successful mass fundraising events that happen through the year, alongside Comic Relief and Sport Relief. In 2009 Children In Need raised a record-breaking £39 million from the British public, and it will be very interesting to see how it does this year in an even more changed economic climate.

£39 million! It puts the lie to anyone who says there isn’t a culture of giving in the UK.

And I love it for a couple of reasons:

1.  It teaches kids about fundraising. A significant portion of that total will be raised by, or through the influence of, kids. My son’s off to school today dressed in spots and armed with a few quid from us.

But that’s not all. Come tonight when we sit down to watch it, he’s going to ask me, ‘Are we going to give again this year Dad?’ Last year he did an upgrade ask on me:

“How much did we give last year, Dad?”
“Well, could we make it £75 this year – you do work for a charity, and you know how important it is!”

I kid you not – his words exactly. So we gave £75. Don’t know whether he’ll get me up to £100 this year – I have my limits!

But, much as I would love to claim fundraising genius for Joe, I wonder in how many other homes up and down the country similar budding young fundraisers are having the same conversations with their parents?

2.  It raises some interesting questions about stewardship. Children In Need doesn’t do much interim stewardship. All I got last year was a letter about 2 months later thanking me for my gift – very form. Nothing else. No newsletter showing where my donation has gone, nada. And, even so, despite what you might regard as shocking donor stewardship, I’ll give again this year. Why? Well I trust them. I know they have huge numbers of donors and can’t write personally to each one. I want them to spend the money on helping the kids, not writing to me. And I suspect the majority of people feel the same way, because you can’t raise tens of millions year-in-year-out without a very substantial number of repeat givers.

So is the amount of stewardship you need to do in inverse proportion to the level of trust your donors have in your cause? Hmm…

But in fact they do their stewardship on the night each year because…

3.  They do great video. Well of course they should, as it’s a TV appeal. But they always nail the most important thing about any video appeal for me – the background music. Maybe it’s because I’m also a musician, but I find the charity television ads that are most likely to rouse me to action are those that have a great backing soundtrack. More than any of the images on screen or the script, a well-chosen, emotive but not too mawkish song will get me every time.


So here we go again. Let’s watch and learn!



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