Christmas fundraising series: Crowdfunding a festive feast

Rebecca Cooney finds out about the opportunities provided by collaborative crowdfunding this December

Christmas is - usually - a time to come together. 

With strict rules in place around how many households can actually gather over the festive period, that is looking a little more complicated than usual. 

But for charities, getting together this Christmas may not be such a bad idea. 

Over the past eight months, the online platform Crowdfunder has supported a number of collaborative campaigns, allowing local groups, all fundraising for similar aims, to come together and fundraise with a single voice. 

The Save Our Theatres campaign, for example, has so far raised a total of £1.4m for 59 projects, allowing people to give to the central crowdfunding campaign or individual theatres’ crowdfunders. 

As Christmas approaches, the platform has launched a single campaign for foodbanks and other projects aiming to feed some of the 14 million people at risk of going hungry this Christmas. 

“We’ve found that creating a rising tide is really exciting and means everyone does well,” says Duncan Parker, charity and philanthropy director at Crowdfunder. 

“So rather than each individual organisation having to think of their own campaign and cut through the noise of everyone else’s campaign, by working together it creates more noise and the media, social media and celebrities feel they can get behind something that isn’t denominational, it’s thematic.”

Since the pandemic took hold in March, the platform has noticed that a huge number of food banks, charities and community groups were looking to deal with the hunger problem that covid created for many people. 

“Whether it was charities or churches  or groups of people coming together to ask how they could help, we realised there was a real trend there,” says Parker. 

“So we wanted to try and offer a platform for communities, charities and networks of charities to come together and make a really big noise. 

“Given that 2020 has been the most rubbish year ever, it’s unthinkable that people are going to be hungry during Christmas and it would be wonderful if we could provide food to make sure the end of the year isn’t as bad as the rest of it,” he says. 

The campaign revolves around a central campaign page and a hashtag (in this case #14millionpeople), which explains the issue and offers users the chance to donate or to visit the crowdfunding pages for individual groups, so they can find the foodbank in their local area, for example. 

Crowdfunder has pledged to provide marketing for the campaign through social media and a national poster campaign, and has removed its fees for any fundraising campaign that is Covid related. 

It also offers webinars and training materials to explain to organisations how they can get the most out of their campaigns. 

Parker says the aim of the campaign is to create a “collaborative force” that each of the partner groups can benefit from. 

Given the concerns that many charities have about whether members of the public will feel able to donate at the moment, Parker argues that crowdfunding may be ideal, as it offers incentives and rewards for contributions, giving people the sense that they are getting something in return for their money.

And although many charities have struggled to fundraise during the pandemic, Parker says he doesn’t believe it is because the public has become less generous - in fact, he says, Crowdfunder has seen an increase in generosity over the past few months.

Partly, he says, this discrepancy is because charities have had less opportunities to ask for money. 

“Charities have been really fast and great at pivoting operations to work online, but slow with pivoting fundraising,” he says. 

He also thinks collaborative crowdfunding has been successful because its setup, where groups running a campaign name a goal amount and what they intend to do with it from the outset, forces the charity and its brand to take a backseat - and pushes the work the charity does and what it hopes to achieve into the foreground. 

“Charities that have a big cost base and focus on how to keep that cost base going have a more challenging time than a charity that says they want to feed 400 families,” he says. 

“Having a very specific ask for what you're currently doing to respond to the current needs of your beneficiaries and communities is very powerful.” 

The campaign is still open for food-focused organisations that want to take part - click here for more information and to sign up.

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