October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which also marks Breast Cancer Now’s highly successful Wear It Pink campaign, which takes place 19 October. As one of the UK’s largest charity events, Wear It Pink offers some great inspiration and fundraising lessons that other charities can use to help create a successful awareness month campaign of their own.
In this post, we share some of the best fundraising lessons from Wear It Pink that you can adopt for your own campaign this month or at any time of the year. Wear It Pink hosted its first event in 2002 and since then, it has raised over £31.5 million for critical cancer research, according to the campaign’s website. Whether you’re just getting started or trying to reinvigorate a mature campaign with a new fundraising strategy, there’s sure to be a helpful tip or two for you here.
Make it Accessible
Our first fundraising lesson from Breast Cancer Now is to make the campaign simple and accessible. The charity makes it easy for everyone to get involved with its special Wear It Pink campaign. In fact, its website proclaims, “It’s easy – just register, wear something pink on 19 October and raise money.”
Wear It Pink offers general advice for different groups; for example, colleagues can team up together at a workplace to wear pink and participate in fundraising quizzes or school groups can opt for a non-uniform day for anyone that chooses to wear pink.
Consider adding a fillable form on your awareness campaign website for people that are interested in taking part. Keep this simple, too. Wear It Pink asks for title, first name, last name and email and where someone wants to hold an event – at work, in the community, or at school.
Give people a similarly easy way to sign up and then communicate with them regularly to offer tips, stories and updates, giveaways and even sample messaging or social media content they can share on your behalf. As a bonus, you’ll be creating a robust list of contacts for all of your future campaigns and general marketing or informational purposes.
One element of making your campaign accessible is to provide clear fundraising ideas. In our experience, many people would like to get involved, but are often not sure how to get started. Wear It Pink, for example, provides examples and resources for fundraising at work, including ideas for classic fundraisers like wearing pink, playing pink games and eating pink treats, as well as “something special” like holding a raffle or acting as “fashion police” and playfully imposing a fine on coworkers who fail to wear pink! The campaign also has clear links to printable tools like posters. All these helpful resources are in one easy-to-navigate page that is beautifully branded in pink, of course.
If you follow this lead, you’ll make it easy (and more likely) for your supporters to hold their own events and raise more money. Try encouraging participants to share their own unique fundraising experience. What type of event did they hold? How did it go? How much did they raise? Provide instructions or another form on your campaign website so people can submit their success stories and photos or videos.
Make it Memorable and Social
Our second fundraising lesson from Breast Cancer Now is to get visual. Think about what will look good for your awareness month campaign. For Wear It Pink, what’s more memorable than a sea of passionate people, all in pink?
Whatever the colour of your campaign, selecting the right merchandise is another important lesson. Plan to offer a range of creative items in your colour that feature your campaign logo and message. Popular wearable products that we make for charities include t-shirts, bags for life, wristbands, enamel badges and silicon watches. All items are available in a wide range of colours to fully embody your campaign. To make the merchandise memorable, ask supporters to share pictures of themselves wearing the items on social media along with your campaign hashtag.
Breast Cancer Now, for example, has a popular #wearitpink hashtag and has prominent links to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram on all of its webpages. The campaign also offers free downloads of Facebook and Twitter cover photos for people to temporarily place on their own profiles, like this one.
Be sure to offer sample social media posts and graphics that people can copy and paste into their personal and professional handles. Offer a range of posts – perhaps some that are more informative and include statistics or infographics while others are more playful, fun or provocative.
Remember, too, that you don’t have to focus on a colour to have a successful awareness month campaign — just add your campaign logo and message to your merchandise for the same consistent and memorable experience that engages supporters in retail locations and on social media.
Find the Right Partners
Our last fundraising lesson from Breast Cancer Now is also one of the biggest: find the right retail partner. One key success of Wear It Pink is that the campaign has partnered with top retailers like Marks and Spencer and Debenhams.
In 2001, Breast Cancer Now established a partnership with M&S to sell pink merchandise, like ribbon badges and keyrings, in customised counter display units at its many point-of-sale locations. The collaboration between the charity and the retailer led to other specially designed products, including a pink bra for last October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month campaign. M&S donates 20 percent of selected products to Wear It Pink from 27 September to 31 October.
Similarly, Debenhams donates 50p from select bras and 20 percent from other selected products to Wear It Pink. It’s a fabulous way to scale and maximise your fundraising efforts, and it’s also great public relations for Debenhams.
If you reach out to potential partners, consider showing them these two examples. Demonstrate the benefits for the retailer, such as good PR, increased sales of certain products and the impact of the partnership toward the greater goal; in this case, raising money to fund research to prevent breast cancer. And remember that it’s OK to start small. Connect with an independent shop or local retailer and grow from there!
We hope these lessons from Breast Cancer Now and Wear It Pink inspire you and provide some creative ideas for your own awareness month campaign. Remember that even the largest charities and campaigns started small, so don’t feel overwhelmed. Adopt some of these lessons for a strong start, and get in touch with us to talk about some of your other plans. We’d love to hear your ideas and share even more examples and tips with you to help you raise the most money possible for your important cause.
To receive the latest fundraising advice and inspiration directly to your inbox, be sure to subscribe to our free monthly newsletter.