This is a guest blog by Rosie Oldham. Rosie has more than ten years' experience as a fundraiser, and is currently Head of Fundraising and Communications at London homelessness charity Thames Reach. She previously worked for arts and homelessness charity Streetwise Opera and London Wildlife Trust, and recently joined the Board of the Badger Trust.
We love most attempts to challenge established ways of thinking, so we asked Rosie if she'd be willing to write this blog off the back of her tweet below about charity anniversaries. She kindly agreed - thank you Rosie!
Back in March, I was prompted to tweet about this after reading yet another string of threads in a sector fundraising group about plans to fundraise off the back of a charity’s anniversary. I was honestly frustrated at the precious and incredibly limited staff and volunteer time that was going into thinking about, planning and executing whole campaigns around this topic.
I’m also mentally scarred from seeing a senior member of staff spend an entire day designing a ‘birthday logo’ complete with balloons for a charity very early on in my fundraising career; this has probably clouded my view of charity birthdays forever.
The conversation my tweet generated was fascinating! Many agreed and many disagreed, presenting different points of view about why their organisations think it is important to celebrate an anniversary year.
What's wrong with celebrating your anniversary?
All that said, when might celebrating an anniversary be appropriate?
My flippant statement about charity anniversaries is definitely not a blanket one, and there were so many good points made in the discussion that followed. I’ve explored some of them below.
An example of an anniversary campaign that I love:
This is great because it’s actually a ‘non-campaign’ and ties this concept directly to the need for the charity’s work:
Cystic Fibrosis Trust ‘No Party’ - We won’t celebrate being 50 until everyone can
In summary...has my opinion changed, and what should you do about your charity's anniversary?
Generally I still think that celebrating your charity’s anniversary is not a good use of time, and expecting people to give you money just because it’s your organisation’s birthday isn’t realistic.
This mostly applies to external audiences and especially to those who aren’t that close to your work. However I recognise I’m coming at this with a ‘fundraising hat’ on, and there are other reasons to celebrate a charity’s birthday than to increase support.
So when you're next thinking about an anniversary campaign, or this conversation next comes up at your charity, what should you do?
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