Why now is the time to embrace greener fundraising tools

Greta Thunberg Credit: CC Lëa-Kim Châteauneuf

Guest Bloggers | 27 November 2019

As the climate crisis is becoming more and more at the forefront of both fundraisers’ and donors’ minds, now is the time to be doing away with outdated and potentially environmentally damaging fundraising models and instead turn to greener alternatives, says Mike Phillips from Purepages Group Ltd.

Global climate change activists like Great Thunberg are moving the environment agenda upwards at a rapid pace. Here in the UK, the efforts of Extinction Rebellion and the Climate Day Strike will soon affect the lives of everyone, including charity fundraisers.

The level of importance now being placed on looking after our planet will be a major factor for many decisions. And that includes how an individual will support their chosen charity or even buying furniture, “Soaring demand for energy-saving and environmentally sustainable products has helped IKEA buck the challenges plaguing the UK retail market to report full-year sales uptick” reported Retail Gazette earlier this month. So, providing people with a choice that means they can feel good about ‘doing their bit’ is paramount.

Currently, much of charity fundraising is environmentally unfriendly to some degree. For example a significant number of larger charities promote overseas self-sponsored adventures. Ranging from Berlin to Borneo, they all involve air flights, known sources of large carbon emissions. Green clothing days at school mean lots of clothing disposed of afterwards as green is not a normal fashion colour. Colour runs use dyestuffs that pollute waterways and latex balloon races cause farm animal and wildlife deaths plus significant litter to the countryside.

Increasingly mindful of these issues, disparate organisations such as the Girl Guides and the Institute of Fundraising are promoting and publishing guidelines and protocols for consideration by their members.

UK Girlguiding has just launched #plasticpromise, the biggest ever girl-led campaign to tackle plastic pollution, with almost half a million Rainbows, Brownies, Guides, Rangers and volunteers across the UK coming together to tackle plastic pollution.

Similarly, Peter Lewis, chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising (IoF) has announced a set of 8 commitments for the membership to tackle the climate emergency. They include, inter alia, embedding the climate emergency as a theme in everyday work, providing more support to members on stepping away from partnerships if they have environmental concerns, and collaborating with the charity sector for a stronger voice.

With the environmental stakes higher than ever before, Peter said that “we all have a responsibility to deliver change. We have been reducing the environmental impact of the Institute over the last few years. But we need to do more.”

Green alternatives

But there are environmentally friendly alternatives to this type of fundraising that charities can turn to. One of these is a ‘virtual’ balloon race, created by our team at the Purepages Group up in Manchester – a highly innovative solution for the IoF membership. Rather than the traditional balloon race of old, where competitors buy a ticketed balloon that is released into the sky this is a 100% eco-friendly, interactive online system that can be used for any organisation, for any cause.

How does it work? As a fundraiser, you’re in charge of selling the virtual balloons. A simple process where you inform and direct your supporter database to the ecoracing.co website where they can buy as many balloons as they like for £3 each. They can then customise their balloon with colours, patterns, shapes, names and even change the rubber thickness and amount of helium.

The virtual balloons are ‘launched’ using computer generated graphics on a specific race day and subjected to a simulated flight pattern based on the actual weather conditions such as the prevailing wind speed and current temperature. This simulation uses an advanced computer modelling programme linked to Google maps and a commercial weather data supplier. Anyone can follow the leading 100 balloons online through the 7 days of the race.

The winner is the one who’s balloon has travelled the furthest in a straight line and they, along with other runners up, can bag themselves some fantastic prizes. Eco-friendly, fun, interactive and simple!

For the charity, a major free default is a GDPR compliant database of purchaser supporters, possibly, for marketeers considering future events, worth more than the race revenues gained.

For how it works in detail and more information visit www.ecoracing.co Mike Phillips

Mike Phillips is Managing Director of Purepages Group Ltd.

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