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How to connect your donors to the causes they care about

BT Sport: The Supporters Club
BT Sport: The Supporters Club

If you're a grant-making charity or you don't directly deliver the work that builds towards your charity's aims, it's important you showcase how the money you're raising is being spent. Often donors can feel that grant-making charities are detached from the projects themselves and might then be inclined to donate directly, unless they understand the connection and additional benefits your charity provides.

Regardless of whether your charity spends on a variety of diverse causes or similar ones, it’s imperative your audience feels connected to the causes they care about.

In this article we will look at the different ways charities create that connection and how The Supporters Club from BT Sport does this. The Supporters Club, with the help of BT Sport viewers, BT employees, key partners such as the Premier League and Premiership Rugby, and Comic Relief, is helping disadvantaged young people in the UK and overseas. As a grant-making charity, The Supporters Club is taking a unique step towards bringing sports fans closer to charities that use sport as an enabler for social change.

So how do grant-making charities show their connection to the projects they support? Showcasing the work that's being done is one way to do this and also enables a clear request for donations. Cancer Research UK dedicates a section of its website to updates on the research that is being carried out in different parts of the UK, who is doing the research, what they are working on and the breakthroughs they've made.

Charities such as the British Heart Foundation weave their achievements into asks for cash. Other charities play on a local connection or community feeling because donors can see first-hand the effects of their donations.

Many charities empower others to tell their stories. This approach works particularly well for Christian Aid, which provides a wealth of assets, including videos and print-outs, during Christian Aid Week. Many charities employ online tools that encourage employees to share stories on their own social media platforms – some even build in reward systems whereby staff members can accrue points that can be exchanged for rewards.

Comic Relief, one of the most well-known grant-making charities in the UK, passed £1bn in public donations this year. This was an important milestone to celebrate but also gave an opportunity to highlight the work that's been done with such a large amount of money since the charity launched. This year's Red Nose Day went the extra mile to showcase the lives changed and the progress made. Among its regular appeal films during the campaign was a series of films showing celebrities who went back to visit projects and their beneficiaries, and in doing so demonstrated the real impact of the donations made. See examples featuring David Walliams and Lenny Henry.

Comic Relief might be celebrating a huge legacy milestone with its fundraising through Red Nose Day and Sport Relief, but it’s also part of a new initiative that’s connecting donors to causes in a totally new way.

The Supporters Club was launched as a key part of the BT Sport proposition a little over two years ago. It looked to Comic Relief as a grant-making partner not only because of its expertise in the space, but also because of BT's long standing relationship with the charity – a relationship of more than 20 years.

Because The Supporters Club's grants are funded by donations from customers – donations that are added in the form of £1, £3 or £5 to their monthly bills – it’s even more important to tell the story of the great grant-making taking place. BT Sport, as a broadcaster of top entertainment, is a great medium on which to tell these stories, ensuring they get straight to supporters. Red Nose Day and Sport Relief use their appeal night TV as the pinnacle of their campaigns. In contrast, BT Sport provides The Supporters Club with a regular opportunity to speak to significant volumes of sports fans.

The Supporters Club has developed a series of short films that are shown just before kick off at big sporting events such as Premier League and Premiership Rugby fixtures. The films showcase the charities and club foundations to which The Supporters Club has given grants, illustrating how donations from sports fans are making a difference to young people through sport.

To date, The Supporters Club has shown a number of short films in this unique way – from the first with the NBA and basketball charity Greenhouse, which was shown ahead of the NBA Global Games, to the most recent, a short film of Harry Redknapp at the Homeless FA, which was shown before the Community Shield. 

These films are the perfect way of bringing those who back The Supporters Club closer to the causes they are directly helping to support. This approach allows us to take the great work they are funding directly to them in programming they already watch – they do not need to seek out information on how their money is being used because these films bring it right to them. It’s this approach that makes The Supporters Club unique.

Whether it’s through captivating films, online resources such as maps or employee engagement tools, or simply regular updates, there’s a wealth of accessible ways to keep your donor attached to your cause. Whilte The Supporters Club has the benefit of BT Sport’s channels, digital platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter provide charities of all sizes with the opportunity to connect donors to the causes they are helping.

The Supporters Club uses the power of sport to create a better future for young people who face incredibly tough challenges, both in the UK and overseas. The Supporters Club uses BT MyDonate as its online fundraising and donation platform, because MyDonate charges no commission or processing fees, so The Supporters Club receives up to 63p more per £10 donation.

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