Focus: Campaign of the week - Coastal vote to boost trust coffers

Georgina Lock, georgina.lock@haynet.com

The National Trust has opened a fundraising competition in an attempt to engage the public in looking after their best-loved coastal areas.

For the next 12 weeks, to coincide with the tens of thousands of people making their way to the seaside, the public is being asked to choose its favourite National Trust-owned coastal property in its Vote for the Coast competition.

It is being advertised on the trust's website as well as through a poster campaign at the organisation's properties, showing pictures alongside numbers people can use to phone or text if they want to cast a vote.

The 25 coastal areas in England, Wales and Northern Ireland up for the vote include Barafundle Bay, Giant's Causeway, Gower Peninsula, the Needles and the White Cliffs.

Central to the campaign is the use of SMS texting. For the first time the charity is using interactive speech technology - this uses codes matching the coastal National Trust properties that people can phone in and vote for.

The National Trust is working with BT and Eckoh Technologies on the campaign, which will see the charity receive 70p from the cost of a £1 call. From texts, the trust will recover 55p, with the cost to the donor varying between mobile networks.

Using a pre-recorded message, the telephone service will enable the charity to field calls to the campaign line, avoiding manual call handling and any issues involved in having to predict the volume of calls.

Because it is a new fundraising venture, trust spokesman Mike Collins said it was hard to predict how much money the competition will generate. The trust hopes that it will be in the region of £50,000.

An undisclosed percentage of the money raised will go to the winning property, and the remainder will give a boost to the 40-year-old Neptune Coastline Campaign.

Collins said that the competition aspect would inspire the various properties to encourage their visitors to vote, thereby bringing in more funds.

The competition closes on 31 October and the winner will be announced at the National Trust's AGM in Brighton on 12 November.

Gill Raikes, fundraising director at the trust, said she hoped the campaign would reveal which stretch of National Trust coast means the most to the British public and, in doing so, raise important funds.

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