Five lessons from Refuge and The Helen Titchener Fund

How charities react to such supporter-based fundraising efforts can be the difference in developing successful campaigns, writes Kirsty Marrins

Whilst the nation has been gripped by The Archers’ domestic violence storyline, which came to a dramatic head on Sunday, those of us in the charity sector have been gripped by how Refuge has handled the Helen Titchener Fund campaign on social media.

Archers’ fan, Paul Trueman set up the JustGiving page with an original target of just £1,000 back in February to raise money for Refuge because "For every fictional Helen, there are real ones." The page hit £3,000 in just 18 hours and hit £100,000 on Tuesday 5 April.

It’s every charity’s dream to have a supporter like Paul, however there are two choices you can make when something like this happens: say ‘thank you’ and let the fundraiser do their own thing or throw your all into making the campaign as successful as it can be, as well as raising awareness of your cause. Refuge has certainly done the latter and it’s paying off. So what can we learn from Refuge?

Get involved in conversations

It would be easy to just broadcast to people using the #TheArchers hashtag or tweet the odd tweet every now and again, but Refuge has helped start conversations as well as signposting people to services.

Over the past week we’ve seen an amazing response to the fictional domestic abuse storyline of Helen Titchener in The...

Posted by Refuge on Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Remind people why their donation matters

It’s sometimes very easy to get swept up in the momentum of a snowballing campaign but it’s important to keep reminding people why their donation matters and how it will help. Refuge has been sharing very emotional and poignant comments from the JustGiving Page to bring home the prevalence of domestic abuse in its many guises.

Spread your wings beyond social

This campaign has had so much press coverage – from The Guardian to BBC Woman’s Hour. The charity has not shied away from the media but rather taken advantage of the opportunity to reach more people. When Refuge’s CEO Sandra Horley CBE was on Woman’s Hour, the charity live-tweeted the interview.

For a campaign to be truly successful, it needs to move beyond social media. It’s important to remember that social media is just one channel so take advantage of it but don’t neglect the others.

Don’t try to own the campaign

As with #nomakeupselfie and #icebucketchallenge, this campaign was started by a supporter and it’s vital that charities that are the recipient of this kind of support recognise that and don’t try to claim it as their own. Refuge has constantly referred to the campaign as Paul’s and has also retweeted him on numerous occasions. This is fundraising at its best – when supporters and charities work in unison.

Say ‘thank you’ often

There is nothing worse than a charity that doesn’t say ‘thank you’. When a campaign starts to gain momentum, it’s imperative to keep people up-to-date on the milestones and also to keep saying ‘thank you’. Refuge has repeatedly thanked supporters and Paul and shared the important milestones along the way. It will be interesting to see how many go on to become regular donors.

Raising money is no doubt important, but reaching people who directly need your services is a true measure of ROI. Refuge has reported that during the month of February the National Domestic Violence Helpline, that they run in partnership with Women’s Aid, received 17% more calls than the same period last year. Thanks to this campaign, victims of domestic violence are finding their voice.

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