As I sit here nursing my sore knees from yesterday’s Bupa Great South Run, I look back on the loooong trek around Portsmouth and consider not just the pain and the intolerable winds, but also the sheer number of vests I saw pledging support for a myriad of charities and causes.

The last thing I remember hearing when I crossed the start line was the announcer saying that the sea of coloured shirts must mean that every charity in the UK was represented (wouldn’t that be nice if it were true).  At least 80% of the 30,000 runners were doing so to raise funds for a charity or cause. The big boys were all well represented – in large because of their fantastic promotion and support for participants – but there were some amazing stories about local causes that would melt even the coldest of hearts!

At events like these individual giving is incredibly successful and indeed, often the driver for participating. With the ease of raising money through Just Giving (and other equally good giving sites), we are seeing a sharp rise in event funding. In the past 12 months alone I have donated to a walking challenge, a marathon, a sky dive, Movember, Stoptober, a baking challenge and I am sure there are others I have forgotten! But for all these events and fundraising initiatives, are we losing the desire to ‘give’ to charities and causes every other day of the week?

Discussions we’ve been having with charities over the past few months do suggest that individual giving is diminishing as a secure revenue stream. There are of course many good reasons for this, the recession and a lack of disposable income for one (although we do manage to find that £5 every time someone jumps out of a plane), and consumer apathy. In any one day, we are faced with leaflets in the post, adverts in the street, adverts on the TV, a story in the paper and a person canvassing for funds – all for separate charities, all equally worthy, so how do you decide which one to support, when let’s be honest, it’s easier not to choose?

The purpose of this thinking is not to shame people that don’t donate regularly, but to highlight that more needs to be done throughout the year to support individual giving – and not just at those times when we have to slap on our running shoes. There is clearly an appetite to give and what we need to work out is how we access this desire to support an annual income.

From a communications point of view, we should perhaps consider the following:

  • What are the motivators to give and how do we promote those in our annual above and below the line plans?
  • What are the most receptive forms of communication?
  • How do we leverage the support at events like this to access longer term funding from individuals and their sponsors?

Over the next 12 months, Consilium will be bringing together some of the best minds in the industry to discuss and debate some of the sectors biggest communication issues and publicising our findings to help promote best practice in the sector. In my mind, individual giving is a prime example of how this group of supporters can focus their efforts for the good of us all.

The people at the Bupa Great South Run were inspiring, I was awed at those I saw pushing through pain thresholds, physical disabilities and tiredness to complete the course for their cause. We owe it to them to take their inspiration and do more.