Most inspiring presentation at Sofii event was about the Aching Arms charity

Lauren Semple's story about how the charity helped her is voted the best of the 22 talks on inspirational fundraising ideas

Aching Arms helps grieving mothers
Aching Arms helps grieving mothers

Lauren Semple’s story about personal loss and how she found comfort in the charity Aching Arms was voted the most inspiring presentation at an event to celebrate the power of storytelling in fundraising campaigns.

Twenty-two fundraising experts yesterday talked about the fundraising ideas that have inspired them at a London event called Once Upon I Wish I’d Thought of That, organised by the Showcase of Fundraising Innovation and Inspiration.

After the presentations, the 300 audience members had the chance to vote by text message for their favourite.

Semple, an account manager at R Fundraising, won for her story about the death of her new-born baby, Angelica, and the arrival of a teddy bear called James from Aching Arms.

Launched in 2010 by a group of bereaved mothers, the charity provides bears for midwives to give to mothers who have lost their babies. Each bear is donated in memory of another baby’s short life. The charity also provides information about larger charities that can provide further support to the mother and her family.

"I cannot express the comfort I felt knowing another mum shared my pain," said Semple.

Sending a bear with Angelica’s name made her feel proud to have played a small part in helping to ease another grieving mother’s pain, she said.

A presentation by Ken Burnett, founder of Sofii, called The Ultimate Donation: Ken’s Worst Nightmare, was based on a letter by Ken Kesey, author of One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, written after his son was fatally injured in a road accident. The powerful letter was sent to his friends and revealed Kesey's decision to donate his son’s organs. It ends: "One man gets what another man spills."

"I make no apology for telling you such a difficult story, because that is what fundraisers have to do," Burnett said. "You have to take donors into that hellish room and show them they can do something about it."

Lucy Caldicott, director of fundraising at the cancer charity Clic Sargent, chose Anne Frank and the charities set up in her memory to illustrate the continuing resonance of her life story, as set out in her diary, and its message of reconciliation and human rights.

Jonathan Andrews, corporate partners specialist at JA Fundraising, chose the Own a Colour and Help Save a Child’s Life campaign by Unicef and Dulux, because of its simplicity.

Karin Weatherup, creative director at Burnett Works, discussed the storytelling power of video, harnessed by the charity Facing the World, which provides life-changing craniofacial surgery to some of the world’s most disadvantaged and vulnerable children.

Teri Doubtfire, fundraising and communications manager at the Childs-i Foundation, picked an "honest, urgent and authentic" tale – the Martin and Lulu appeal by the Owl & Monkey Haven on the Isle of Wight.

The campaign raised money to import Lulu, a female white-throated capuchin, from a zoo in France to be a mate for Martin, who became the only capuchin left in the UK after his brother died.

Doubtfire said: "The appeal was charming. It moved people to take action, there was fantastic storytelling and it did not forget the ‘ask’."

Jenna Pudelek

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