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Fundraising Lessons from Run Every Day January

11 January, 2019

January marks the start of a new year and a perfect opportunity to inspire people to do good in the months ahead. It also marks the start of Run Every Day January, or RED January, an initiative to raise awareness and funds for the mental health charity, Mind. Even though RED January was only just launched in 2015, it has quickly become an incredibly successful campaign. There are many lessons that can be learned from RED’s short, but successful run.

In this post, we share a few tips from RED January that you can apply to your own charity or campaign, from setting realistic goals to making it easy for people to participate in your cause.

Set realistic goals and appeal to a wide base of people.

One way to engage more people is to offer something for everyone. Not everyone is up to or capable of running a marathon. Not everyone can commit or travel to a single-day cycling event.

Think about how you can offer a broad spectrum of ways to get involved, and suggest multiple goals for each activity that range from achievable to challenging to appeal to the widest base possible. This could include activities for both youth and adults, as well as fundraising opportunities that can be done at home or work. For example, if you work with a literacy charity, rather than ask people to raise funds by reading a particular book, ask them to read any book that appeals to them. The key here is inclusivity and giving people an option for deciding how, where and when they participate.

RED January, for example, sets a simple and achievable goal: do something active every day for the 31 days of January. This can be running a 5K race or simply walking to work a new way. There is something for everyone, and the activities are achievable. In this way, even more people can get involved. One tip here is to set some time parameters around your campaign. Does it all take place on one day? During one month? On the first Friday of every month? Further, pick a focus that can be easily measured or tracked. This will help busy people feel accountable and committed to the cause.

Create a community and be mindful of it.

Do you know the adage, strength in numbers? It certainly rings true when it comes to fundraising campaigns. A community of people working toward a common cause is inspiring and motivating and can often stimulate more people to participate in a cause than if they were going about it on their own. This is an especially important lesson if you’re asking people to participate independently as part of their daily lives and activities.

But how do you build a sense of community when people are physically disconnected? Without an organised event, how do you bring people together to inspire one another? This is something RED January does very well, and is one of the keys to their rapid success – the charity has built a strong and vibrant community of 30,000 REDers! Supporters join the community on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, where they share tips and encouragement every step of the way.

One more tip here is to be purposeful and engaged on your social media channels. If the conversation on any one channel slows, cultivate more activity by posing questions, creating “mini-challenges” or offering prizes or drawings for people who post the most helpful tips or videos. Consider assigning a team member or volunteer to a rotating position of community engagement monitor to ensure a dynamic community.   

Make it easy to get started.

The easier you make it for people to participate in your campaign, the more success you’re likely to have. It sounds fairly obvious, but some charities struggle to come up with effective ways to do exactly this.

RED January gives REDers everything they need in one convenient starter kit. This helps motivate and encourage people all month long. There’s a RED Together calendar available for download, which helps people tick off daily activities. There are posters featuring compelling photos of actual REDers to inspire people and contribute to a strong sense of community.

It doesn’t end there, either! RED January offers a downloadable fundraising guide, a digestible one-page volunteer guide, a sponsorship form, social media images and even these great social media profile frames for people to use during the month of January.


One way to bring all these lessons together is through clever merchandise. RED January leverages it’s iconic RED January 2019 technical t-shirts, as in the photo below. These are sold for £10 to help cover the charity’s costs and raise funds for the campaign.


Consider creating bespoke clothing, badges or other items that you can sell or gift to your participants. Wearable merchandise, especially, will help extend the exposure of your campaign long after it ends. Charity bracelets and wristbands, like the example below, are a popular and very cost-effective option.

Lastly, be inspired. What do you hope to achieve this year? Hannah Beecham, the founder of RED January, started the charity after her mum suffered from depression. RED January raises funds to provide information, advice, support and respect for everyone experiencing a mental health problem. What motivates you? Tap into this passion and couple it with some of the lessons above as well as your own tried-and-true campaign strategies for a great 2019 and beyond!

We’d love to hear what else has worked for your charity. Please get in touch with us today and tell us more about your fundraising goals for the year.

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