It’s been a while since the last charity site of the month, but June brings us another gem:
In the words of The Buwan Kothi International Trust, the iPledge site is a “blog that celebrates the efforts and hard work of our many supporters – and reminds everyone that making a donation is not the only way of supporting our activities“.
I caught up with Kevin from the Trust who had some very interesting things to say about devolved fundraising, word of mouth marketing and using free web tools.
Read on or download the full story: Download ipledge.doc
What is your charity and what do you do?
In December 2005, friends and relatives of Gilly Mundy and Debbie Quargnolo travelled from the UK to the tiny rural village of Buwan Kothi in Haryana, northern India, to celebrate their wedding. We were all overwhelmed by the warmth and generosity of the welcome from the village and resolved to develop and strengthen links between people in the UK and Haryana.
In March 2006, the Buwan Kothi International Trust was formed to raise funds for projects in Haryana and our major objective was to build a primary school in Buwan Kothi, a task that was given an even greater impetus by Gilly’s sudden death in March 2007, aged only 36.
Where did the idea of the iPledge site come from?
We wanted to celebrate the hard work of our many supporters and remind everyone that making a donation is not the only way of supporting our activities. Making a pledge can involve making a difference by taking part in (or organising) a sponsored event, or volunteering some free time, or talking to friends and colleagues about the Trust and what it has achieved so far.
Over the last year, we have managed to raise a considerable sum whilst keeping our costs to a minimum (less than £40 in 2007-08 out of a total of £52K). This has only been possible because of using the internet and e-mail rather than more expensive publicity but also because we have actively encouraged ‘devolved fundraising’, by letting supporters do whatever they can to help, without necessarily organising everything ourselves.
What did you want the iPledge site to achieve?
The iPledge site will hopefully help to encourage supporters to see the charity as belonging not to its trustees but to everyone that gets involved. The charity was the brainchild of a large group of friends with many skills and a variety of different talents and we want to keep that ethos at the forefront of our fundraising activities.
Using a blog enables everyone to see the range of activities that people have pledged to undertake and act as a reminder that each individual supportive action is part of a wider community seeking to help the Trust’s work. And, of course, it has cost us next to nothing to set up!
What sort of feedback have you had?
It’s early days yet but feedback has been very positive. For example, the number of supporters pledging to take part in our fundraising cycle ride in July looks set to top the 26 riders who took part last year (and raised more than £20K between them).
Some of your fundraisers have raised more than others – do you know why some are more successful?
For us, the amount raised is less important than the fact that so many people are willing to make an effort. Some supporters have wider – and wealthier – circles of friends than others, but every penny counts.
As a new and small charity, we also know our profile is nowhere near as high as the big charities, but that donations are nearly always made by families and friends supporting individual efforts, rather than on our name recognition, so the more people pledge to fundraise for us, the better. Building our profile by word of mouth helps to keep our costs to a minimum and make sure that so far, 99.9% of the money we have raise directly supports communities in Haryana.
How has Justgiving helped?
Devolved fundraising involves surrendering a certain amount of overall control, but as a charity we have an obligation to ensure that fundraising undertaken in our name is accountable and transparent. Justgiving provides us with this, because donations come straight to us rather than through each individual fundraiser.
Anyone making a donation can be completely confident that their money goes directly – and promptly – to the Trust. It also helps individual supporters to contact friends and family all over the country and encourage donations without the fuss of asking for cheques or collecting cash.
Was it easy to set up the blog on Blogger?
Setting up a blog on Blogger is very straightforward. Some knowledge of basic HTML is needed for changing from one of Blogger’s basic templates to something like the free template
we used to improve the look of the site, but the basic templates aren’t that bad.
If anyone wants to borrow our idea for their own charity and is struggling, then I’m happy to try and explain to them in more detail how we set up our blog.
Did it take up much time or resource?
Initial set up wasn’t too time-consuming because we had the necessary IT skills amongst our supporters. Maintaining the site is a doddle – it takes a matter of minutes to add new pledges via the Blogger ‘dashboard’ and because the site is accessed via a web browser, requires no special software or programming knowledge. Mainly, it has involved adding a title to a post, some standard wording and pasting in an individual’s Justgiving widget.
Thanks for taking the time to speak to us Kevin, you’ve shared a lot of useful information that other charities can use. The concept of ‘devolved fundraising’ is something we are seeing more and more on Justgiving – as I mentioned recently on the blog with the rise of occasion fundraising.
It’s also a great example of using free tools like Blogger to start some word-of-mouth marketing and generate a *buzz* around a small charity.