Regulation with Rosie: Sponsoring festivals

The Charity Commission's Rosie Chapman on sponsoring festivals.

Watching the Glastonbury festival last month from the comfort of my watertight living room, I was struck by the profile of charities at the event. International development charity WaterAid not only had its logo on the main stage but, more inventively, provided real 'African-style latrines' next to the stage. Their popularity was puzzling, until it emerged that volunteers were stoically disinfecting them, making them far more attractive than the conventional alternative.

Trustees can agonise endlessly about how to connect with hard-to-reach groups. The affluent young middle-aged who attend festivals are a desirable target group for awareness-raising and fundraising. There are, however, smaller, local events that charities can take advantage of.

Events such as melas, Hindu festivals put on in areas including Birmingham, Leicester and London, are often largely funded by cash-strapped local authorities. Offering to run such an attraction, which doesn't have to be expensive, could be an effective way of getting your charity's name across.

There are festivals and events occurring all over the country every summer. While larger events may be increasingly overrun by corporate sponsorship, many local events would welcome win-win deals with charities, even if it doesn't involve hard cash.

Printing programmes for the event with your charity's name on them and offering to compere events are low-cost ways of raising awareness about your charity's work and reaching demographically diverse audiences that you'd struggle to reach in any other way.

Too many people assume that charities have only a cap-in-hand relationship with the supporting public. Reaching the public in a local 'feel-good' setting could be a real opportunity to offer an alternative view.

- Rosie Chapman is executive director of policy and effectiveness at the commission.

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