Focus Fundraising: Case study - Film club helps trust net young donors

Helen Barrett

Summary

The Anthony Nolan Trust has raised almost £11,000 by holding a monthly film club night in London when a small audience is invited to preview films before their release.

Background

The trust recruits donors to its bone marrow register and supports research into improving the effectiveness of bone marrow transplants. The trust needs more people between the ages of 18 and 25 to join the register, so it decided to hold an event that would raise funds and encourage guests to sign up to the register at the same time.

How it worked

The club was launched in December 2005. Screenings are held in a private cinema at the Soho Hotel, which seats 100 people. The hotel allows the trust to use the facility without charge, and tickets cost £20 each. The charity hoped to raise £10,800 in the first six months.

Film companies such as Buena Vista International and Sony Pictures Classics allow the trust to screen forthcoming releases without charge to help generate a buzz about the films.

The trust approached Metro newspaper and persuaded it to be the event's media partner. About three weeks before each event, the newspaper runs an article with details of each advance screening. Brazilian beer Devassa also sponsors each evening.

The screening starts with a five-minute film about the work of the trust.

Since the launch, the club has previewed six films, including Proof, starring Anthony Hopkins and Gwyneth Paltrow, Capote and current release Thank You For Smoking.

Ticket holders each receive a goodie bag containing information about how to sign up to the bone marrow register and other fundraising events, a bottle of beer and books relevant to the film, which are usually donated by publishing houses. The trust reserves 20 seats for staff and supporters.

Results

Each event so far has sold out and each has raised £1,800 in cash for the trust's general funds - enough to recruit more than 150 new bone marrow donors. Guy Parkes, development manager at the trust, said: "The Premiere Film Club has so far achieved its major aims. We are extremely grateful for the support we've received from film companies and other corporate supporters for this initiative."

EXPERT VIEW

SARAH DON-BRAMAH, account director, TDA

What a great idea this is. Just as everyone's getting sick to death of sponsoring people to run marathons or jump out of aeroplanes, the Anthony Nolan Trust comes up with a new form of event-based fundraising.

The Premiere Film Club works on multiple levels and engages with a particularly elusive audience - young adults who are just starting out in their careers are generally more focused on their social lives than on helping good causes. It cleverly uses an exclusive, artsy event to draw in 18 to 25 year-olds and then shows them a brief film about the trust's work when they're in the right frame of mind to tune in to the medium. The film also reminds viewers they're supporting the charity just by being there - making them feel good about themselves rather than using the guilt factor associated with so many fundraising techniques.

Finding ways to say thank you is an important aspect of relationship development with donors and supporters, so reserving seats for supporters is the icing on the cake. The corporate and media partnerships are also well selected - it seems that every last detail has been considered and worked to perfection. The only way they could improve on what they're doing is to find ways to roll this out across the UK.

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