Fundraising during a national crisis

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By Lucy Squance | Monday 27 April 2020

We recognise that things are drastically different for everyone at present, not least our supporters, who may be caring for their loved ones in quite difficult and confined conditions.

So, we understand if you need to take a step back from fundraising or your general support for Alzheimer’s Research UK as you get you priorities in order and focus on caring for you families.

However, we also know that many of our supporters will want to do what they can to keep busy and help raise vital funds for dementia research in the coming weeks and months. That is why we have written this blog to inspire you and show that there are ways we can get creative with fundraising.

You may take comfort in knowing that previous generations have found innovative ways to raise money for charity in the face of international crisis.

A great example of this was during the First World War, Brits pulled together and raised an incredible £75 million (roughly £3.6 billion now), and that’s excluding the value of donated goods for troops’ comforts and hospitals, itself accounting for another £20-30 million. It’s predicted that the total value of donations might have been as high as £150 million. And that – in an era when the average monthly wage was £67 – is a simply extraordinary sum.

Here are some wartime voluntary fundraising examples which have helped shape and influence modern day fundraising. People’s grit and determination to do good hasn’t changed, just the techniques they now use:

  1. Fundraising groups

Wartime Britain marked the establishment and rise of Fundraising Groups. Single streets formed groups to combine skills and talents to raise money. Although we couldn’t do this physically now many households are rallying round in their local communities to support one another and hold their own fundraising activities.

Alzheimer’s Research UK fundraising groups are keen to support us virtually in a myriad of ways including our existing fundraising drives such as, organising a virtual Mighty Quiz and sending Printed Memories postcards to friends and family. Get in on the action and join an existing group.

  1. Cash Giving

There was a huge boom in local communities and newspapers setting up ‘Funds’, similar to our crowdfunding efforts of today. Many newspapers, both national and local ran their own funds but The Times was by far the largest, raising a staggering £16m. If you would like to you can donate to Alzheimer’s Research UK here.

There is a current rise in virtual gifting whereby people can’t visit their friends and families so instead they are hosting virtual gatherings to celebrate special occasions and donating to their chosen charity. We are seeing a lot of people using Facebook fundraising for birthdays and anniversaries in lieu of gifts. Visit our website to find out how you could give in lieu.

  1. Selling goods

With little money people were hugely resourceful during wartime and would regularly make and sell goods to support charities. Similarly, Virgin Money Giving has launched an online initiative with to turn unwanted books, games, CD and DVDs into donations for your chosen charity. A perfect and easy way to raise fundraising while having a Spring clean! There is free collection from your home too. Find out more at Virgin Money Giving world of books

  1. Themed and DIY Fundraising

During the Second World War, a ‘Spitfire Week’ was held for the public to raise extra cash for the RAF and other services.

These days, themed fundraising continues to be popular among UK charities and many ‘national days/weeks’ and campaigns came from this thinking. Last week, Virgin Money London Marathon launched its ‘2.6 challenge’ with sporting partners, encouraging people to do an activity based around the numbers 2.6 or 26 between 26 and 30 April.

People are also getting creative with their own fundraising ideas such as dress up days, head shaves, even growing or glittering their beards!

One of our supporters has recorded some of the songs that remind her of her mother doing the dishes, and her CD – Mum’s Washing Up Songs – is selling like hotcakes. The songs not only honour her mum, who she lost to Alzheimer’s disease, but are also a lovely trip down memory lane for any children of the 70s! A brilliant and original idea!

  1. Keeping fit and raising funds

If you are looking for a challenge that will keep you fit and well, Alzheimer’s Research UK’s virtual events, Running Down Dementia and Cycling Down Dementia can help keep you active whilst respecting social distancing. To help you look great and promote your fundraising why not buy some Tikiboo activewear to raise additional funds for our research? For every item bought in the Alzheimer’s Research UK range, the charity receives 20% of the product price.

People are also taking on their own sporting challenges with one fundraiser committing to run 5k a day for the year!

Perhaps wartime fundraising efforts come the closest to inspiring ideas and action during the COVID-19 outbreak. Captain Tom Moore’s incredible fundraising efforts in raising more than £26million for the NHS Charities Together have captured the nation’s hearts and inspired many others to take on their own challenges. Certainly, we’ve been overwhelmed by the grit and determination of our own employees and supporters to get through these times.

And there is a lot at stake. Just as research is playing a vital part in solving this current pandemic so research is the only way we will make breakthroughs possible for families coping with dementia around the country and the world.

Thank you for all your support and messages to Alzheimer’s Research UK.

To find out more about ways in which you can support our work please visit our website.

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About the author

Lucy Squance

Lucy is Director of Supporter-led Fundraising at Alzheimer's Research UK.

Her team includes Sporting Events, Corporate, Community Fundraising and the Central Fundraising Team.

Since starting at Alzheimer’s Research UK in 2016, Lucy has built a successful department enabling supporters to fundraise through leveraging their own talents and passions.