The ghosts of fundraising innovation past

Lightbulb moment

Adam Bryan | 20 December 2016

Adam Bryan, Director of Partnerships at the IoF, takes a look at some of the most innovative fundraising ideas from years gone by and asks... what's the next big thing?

The sector has a great track record in innovation and anyone who saw the shortlist from our recent Awards will see that this is thriving. But what of the big things; where is the next transformational change coming from?

So, before we go forward let’s take time to reflect on some of the great innovations in our history. One of the first was a letter in the Times to raise money for wounded soldiers in the Franco Prussian war, way back in 1871. The appeal was launched and the generous British public responded. By the end of the war the British Red Cross had raised £250k, over £11.5m in today’s money.

Also In the 19th century the Salvation Army ran second hand clothing shops to provide the poor with clothing, although modern charity shops did not appear until after World War 2. The first of these was opened in Oxford as a pop-up shop (ahead of trend again) in 1947. 

Moina Michael was an American humanitarian who conceived the idea of using poppies as a symbol of remembrance for those who served in World War I. The appeal last year raised over £36m and has also spawned many other badges and ribbons as a way of giving and demonstrating your commitment to a cause. 

The BBC's first radio broadcast charity appeal took place in 1927, with the first televised appeal took place in 1955 and was called the Children's Hour Christmas Appeal. The presenter was Sooty, giving rise to Children in Need, Comic Relief and other telethons such as Stand up to Cancer. So let’s toast Sooty, a fundraising pioneer.

The New York Marathon took place in 1970 for elite runners. Chris Brazier was invited and saw its potential, like a lot of great innovators, he copied an existing idea and launched the London marathon, as a mass participation event and the first big challenge event with its associated sponsorship.

Founded 16 years ago in 2001, JustGiving has transformed giving to charity and through their digital platform, which signed the death knell for knocking on your neighbours door with a sponsorship form, they have raised close to £2bn for good causes from over 22 million people.

Look out for part 2 of Adam's fundraising innovation blog later tomorrow!

So what will 2017 bring? Something different? Some new ways of working? What do you think - let us know on Twitter! 

Adam Bryan 2016 headshotAdam Bryan, Director of Partnerships, IoF


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