Fundraising: Investment competition doubles charity's cash

Kent Air Ambulance Trust's drive to get the county's leading entrepreneurs to raise funds for the charity has resulted in a doubling of the money invested in the scheme.

In an initiative called Come Fly With Me (Third Sector, 4 May), the organisation offered £50 each to 100 business leaders and challenged them to make as much as they could from the sum in four months.

Sixty-four of them accepted the challenge and, from the £3,200 handed out, £6,850 has been returned so far, with more still to come.

To protect itself from losses and criticism, the Kent Air Ambulance Trust ensured that the funds it handed out were underwritten by a sponsor.

David Philpott, chief executive of the charity, said: "Some people might say that £7,000 isn't very much, but this has shown that corporations - usually the hardest to engage - can get involved in charity fundraising."

The exercise has also raised considerable awareness for the trust.

Last week, Come Fly With Me participants were invited to the Charity Entrepreneur of the Year Awards at Maidstone Television Studios, where the most successful were acknowledged.

Winners Sam and Mark Adams of Adams Creative used the £50 to take a client, JS Gedge, to lunch and persuaded him to donate a Yamaha R1 motorcycle worth £9,000. Then Sam Adams drummed up support from a local newspaper company, the Kent Messenger Group, to spread awareness of the cause and get people to buy tickets in a competition to win the bike.

As a result, the trust got its message into 180,000 homes through the newspaper competition, raised close to £2,000 and created a database of 1,000 bikers - a beneficiary group of the charity.

Philpott said the charity had achieved its three objectives. First, the trust wanted to "let the business community know just how hard it is to raise funds".

Second, it wanted to show that corporate bonds and equity investments are not the only ways to invest a charity's reserves. Philpott added: "Finally, we expanded our network of corporate relationships and now have relationships with businesses in all sectors."

Such was the success of the event that the air ambulance charity hopes to make it an annual event.

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