Focus: Fundraising - Case study - Blue Peter hunts treasure for ChildLine

Helen Barrett

ChildLine is a free 24-hour helpline for children that was launched in 1986. It counsels 2,300 children and young people every day. In November last year, the charity merged with the NSPCC but retained its own branding.

Background

In July last year, ChildLine launched the Emergency Night Service Appeal in a bid to raise the £1m needed to keep its phone lines open between 9.30pm and 7.30am, when counselling is provided by paid staff rather than volunteers.

In November, the children's BBC television programme Blue Peter chose the charity for its annual appeal.

How it worked

The show's presenters announced the appeal and introduced short films illustrating the personal problems, such as bullying or parental abuse, that children who call ChildLine might face.

Viewers, typically aged between seven and 11, were asked to hunt out old and foreign coins and unwanted mobile phones that could be recycled and turned into cash. Phones are stripped for parts or resold to developing countries, and coins are melted down or, if foreign currency, exchanged at advantageous rates.

The appeal set its target in terms of telephone calls rather than money: viewers were asked to help ChildLine answer 5,000 more phone calls than it did at that time.

In addition, Blue Peter announced the launch of www.treasuretrailappeal.org, a dedicated website featuring a personal message from the programme's presenters on the homepage. It also included step-by-step guides on how to take part in the appeal and details of how to arrange for 'treasure' to be collected or dropped off at participating banks.

Results

The target to fund an extra 5,000 calls was set low because the collection and recycling mechanism was thought unlikely to be as successful as the conventional Blue Peter bring-and-buy sale. To date, 25,846 mobile phones have been collected, plus coins to a value of £236,793. The collection has already raised more than £300,000, which ChildLine says is enough to fund 100,000 extra calls.

"We're thrilled that the Treasure Trail Appeal has raised so much," says Paula Robinson, corporate partnership manager at ChildLine. "We continue to receive letters expressing how much schools and groups have enjoyed taking part - and we still have six months to go."

EXPERT VIEW - ARTHUR PARSHOTAM, EXECUTIVE CREATIVE DIRECTOR, DRAFT

Confession time: I once collected stuff for Blue Peter. It was back in the 1970s, and I spent weeks gathering silver tops from milk bottles. I can't remember why, but I'm sure it was for a good cause.

Thirty years later and Blue Peter is behind another good cause - to help ChildLine answer more calls from children. But rather than just appealing for money, it launched a Treasure Trail. Search behind the sofa, inside old jam jars and at the back of cupboards, and hunt out old coins and unwanted mobile phones. Send the treasure in and Blue Peter will turn it into money.

Inspired. Nothing is more powerful than children on a mission, especially when it involves the empowering tool of the web. The site has pitched it about right - it cajoles, engages, entertains and informs in equal measure. With its animated cartoons and step-by-step guides, it offers children the chance to make a real contribution.

But it's not all fun and games; there are links to view case studies that drive home why ChildLine is so important.

The initial target was to help Child-Line answer an extra 5,000 calls.

There is now enough treasure to fund an extra 100,000 calls. Children helping children - it's a powerful combination.

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