The first thing that I wanted to do when I left hospital for the first time in 2008, was give something back to the wonderful hospital and staff, that had saved my life. They had given me a lot of difficult treatment, and had looked after me, when I could do almost nothing for myself. They wanted nothing back from me and told me that it was their job.I had never been in a world like this before. I was used to doing something in return, mostly handing over money.
After a lot of thought, I decided that as I knew a lot of people, I would go round with my begging bowl and hopefully they would be as passionate about my cause, and donate some money.I also realised, like a business you have to explain clearly what you are raising money for, so that it just doesn’t go into a large pot., and you can’t see what effect your money has had. I discussed this with the hospital, and their need was specialist equipment. So my own charity was formed under the St Georges umbrella, and I could decide where the money was spent.
I started my charity as a legacy, which my wife and boys have promised to continue, as I can never forget what the hospital did for me and continue to do. As you can see, it is online and easy to donate to. The figure keeps increasing as people make generally smaller personal donations throughout the year, and we do a couple of fun evenings to boost the total.
Ironically, the more sick I was, the more money came in! Somehow, a tragedy triggers peoples emotions, and although they cannot directly influence that event, they find themselves wanting to make a financial contribution.I have also found that fundraising in the longer term has it’s own difficulties. There is an initial surge of interest, but then peoples lives change, and things happen within their families and their ‘giving focus’ changes.
Things have changed in the economy, since I started fundraising and people generally have less disposable income, but most people feel better about themselves after making whatever donation they can.
That brings me to the very sad case of Claire Squires, who as you know was running the London Marathon on behalf of The Samaritans, where her mum has worked for some time. That was her reason to raise funds. Her plan was to have some fun, and raise money for her favoured cause. This plan we know ended in tragic circumstances.
The fallout from what happened on Sunday, has been incredible. The world has come together for a common cause, to show their support for a woman who was raising money to help people she would never know. A truly selfless person. Ironically her fundraising has passed the £1m mark and is still rising. How did this happen so quickly?
Just Giving managing director Anne-Marie Huby described the public’s response as a spontaneous, “true gesture of sympathy” by thousands of ordinary people. The huge volume of low-sum donations to the site suggested that the public, while hard-pressed financially, were giving as much as they could manage, she added.
What was unprecedented was the way social media and digital technology helped drive donations. Squires’s death happened at a public, emotionally charged event widely covered by mainstream press and TV. But Twitter and Facebook turned it into a shared story, while the simplicity and directness of online giving enabled people to give quickly and easily.
“What’s remarkable is how the page was fuelled by social media, more than we have ever seen before,” said Huby.
The above very sad story of Claire Squires, encompasses many of the things I have talked about in previous posts, but particularly the power of social media! Very quickly, people can be joined together under one common cause. It is an example of how one person can make a difference, and the world can know instantly!
Do you fundraise or give money to charity? What is your motivation? Please feel free to share your experiences