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Fundraising Lessons: Go Sober for October

7 October, 2019

October is Macmillan Cancer Support’s Go Sober for October campaign. The charity encourages people to go on a 31-day sober journey to raise funds for people affected by cancer. To date, nearly 60,000 “soberheroes” have participated, raising a total of £897,536! 

Aside from helping people improve their wellbeing whilst helping those in need, the campaign also offers up inspiration and ideas to help other charities maximise their own efforts. In this post, we share a few key lessons from the amazing Go Sober for October campaign to apply to your next fundraising challenge, every month of the year.

Campaign Tips from Go Sober for October

1) What’s in it for me? Highlight the personal perks.

One thing that Go Sober does really well is explain how the campaign helps not only others, but also the participants themselves! From the moment people land on the Go Sober website, clear language and graphics make a compelling argument to participate in the challenge. This includes benefits such as having more time available for other activities, banishing horrible hangovers, sleeping better and even saving money (the charity estimates that you could save up to £67 a month by going booze-free). 

For your next fundraising challenge, get your key people together and brainstorm to come up with a list of potential benefits of participation, both directly and indirectly. You might be surprised at the creative, funny, yet compelling perks you can identify when you all put your heads together. Once you identify these “side benefits”, clearly articulate them on your website and in related materials and messaging. When done well, like Macmillan, this type of language will help encourage more people to join you and raise critical funds. 

2) Set achievable, time-bound goals. And be safe!

Another thing Go Sober does right is that the campaign sets a specific timeframe in which to achieve the challenge – during the 31 days of October. This simplifies the campaign and makes it an achievable, yet challenging goal for participants. Further, the charity also recognises that not everyone will fully achieve the goal. Some participants may, on occasion, find that they would like to enjoy a beverage. As such, Go Sober devised a clever “Golden Ticket” strategy in which participants can elect to “buy a drink” in exchange for a £15 donation. It’s a brilliant way to keep people involved for the duration of the campaign, even if they momentarily stray from the goal.

Another important thing that Go Sober does well is to be clear about what the challenge is not. Macmillan provides clear language about safety, advising people who may have more significant issues to speak with their GP before taking the challenge. This is a great lesson to keep in mind if your charity fundraising event could be dangerous or unsafe in any way for any participant.

3) Provide ongoing support in fun and visible ways. 

To help ensure participants meet their Go Sober goals, Macmillan offers up an array of supportive resources. This includes everything from handy fundraising email templates and social media promotion tools to workout tips and alcohol-free recipes. The campaign also plays up a clever image of participants as “soberheros” and promotes how Macmillan will be there every step of the way, much like a hero’s trusty sidekick.

Remember, the easier you make it for people to succeed, the more likely they are to complete the challenge and to do it again year after year. The more organised and supportive your event is, the more likely you are to meet and exceed your fundraising goals. 

4) Align with like-minded partners to maximise the fun AND the funds.

Partnership is another key consideration for your fundraising campaign. Take a note from Macmillan, who partnered with a beverage company, Appletiser, to offer up free “mocktail” recipes. You can find a range of downloadable, easy-to-make non-alcoholic beverages on the Go Sober website, from an Appletiser Bramble to an Elderflower Punch. Not only do the recipes sound great, but the right partner can also help you maximise your reach and impact by targeting an entirely new base of potential supporters. 

In addition to working with key partners, be sure to hone your social media strategy before you kick off your challenge. This includes identifying the right fundraising handles and hashtags – Go Sober, for example, asks people to tag @AppletiserUK and @GoSoberUK and use #Appletiser and #GoSober on social media.

5) Great gear never goes out of style. 

Our last lesson is all about great merchandise. Successful charity campaigns often include special branded merchandise that is either given away to participants or made available for purchase. Charities like Macmillan encourage people to proudly display or gift these items to build even more awareness and engagement around the campaign. The Go Sober challenge, for example, offers a range of merchandise in different price points, including keyrings, wristbands, t-shirts and this great reusable mug, below.  (Tip: Campaign merchandise is also a great way to appeal to people who can’t participate in the event itself for whatever reason but still wish to show their support through a donation or purchase.)

We hope this post inspires you to plan your own amazing fundraising campaign this year. (And, if you’re now inspired to take October off of drinking, you can sign up to participate in Sober October here!) Macmillan’s Go Sober in October campaign is a shining example of how to do a charity fundraiser right. 

We’d love to share a few more tips with you to help you plan for and execute a campaign that raises the most money possible for your own critical causes. Please get in touch with us today, and perhaps we’ll see for you a pint – in November! 

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