Fundraising during lockdown - A case study
Earlier this month I donated a few hours of my time to a Facebook auction in aid of Chester Zoo. I have never actually been to this zoo, my family just live close to it and I thought it would be a nice way to contribute to a good cause.
The auction was an amazing success and has raised over £4,600 for Chester Zoo!
At a time when money is tight, people are very concerned about the future and there is a world of worry, I did not believe fundraising at this level would truly be possible. But it is, and I just had to get in touch with the fundraising organiser to find out more. Here is her story...
My name is Martina Miradoli and I'm a Dog Trainer. I live in Cheshire, Winsford, but I'm from Milan, Italy. I moved to the UK to work with dogs 6 years ago and I never left.
I specialise in Border Collies and the typical behaviour problems of the breed. I also do dog sport, competitive Obedience and Agility and that is part of my job as well as I teach sport to my students. My website is www.rollingpaws.net.
I would like to introduce also the rest of the team that helped me in this project as they have been stars and big achievements are possible only with a team at your back, as I have learned in my job where I also have a team that work with me. I couldn't have done it without them.
Zoe was the first one that agreed to help me. I contacted Zoe as she is a great photographer and she is so passionate about the Zoo and I asked her to donate something for the auction. She lives near me and I'm her dog trainer as well. The Zoo is very special to Zoe and plays a big part in helping with her anxiety and depression. She always tells me it's her special place where she leaves everything at the door and spend the most amazing time taking pictures.
Zoe Invited Fran that she met at the Zoo as the numbers were growing and between me being on my own and Zoe having a busy family we needed all help to run this as smoothly as possible. Zoe and Fran met at the Zoo and become friends. Fran has been a visitor of Chester Zoo for over 50 years and has been a huge part of her celebrations in life, birthdays, anniversary and even remembering loved ones. She was as keen as us to save it. I was contacted by Hayley as we know each other through dogs and I invited her to donate one of her beautiful bags... when I asked for help she jumped in. She, like the rest of us were really upset to hear that they might close and she had already adopted a giraffe to try and help.
What gave you the idea to run an auction on Facebook?
I love art and animals and I was scrolling down Facebook and someone that does beautiful drawings asked on a post: What should I do with it? It was a tiger. I immediately told him: you should auction it to raise money for a zoo. But he didn't seem very impressed. So I stopped and thought, "hang on, I can't draw but I have friends that do!!" I made a post on my Facebook tagging some artistic friend that are good with craft as well and this is how it all started!
Was it easy to set up? Are there certain rules for Facebook auctions?
It was easy to set up, just a Facebook Group. Everyone could invite other people to make donations or to just take part at the auction. As long as you don't sell animals I don't think Facebook is too much worried! Also we had the link to the JustGiving Chester Zoo campaign page that I created straight away, so it was all official.
What challenges did you come across and how did you overcome them?
The first big challenge has been that we were not expecting it to become so big!!!
So it took us by surprise and we panicked a bit. But then team work helped. While we were going on we didn't set any dates or rules and people started bidding under the pictures that donors posted on the group. The idea was to collect items for a week and then start the bidding. Not setting rules, dates and details from the beginning generated chaos. So we corrected that with posts that were pinned to the top and in the announcements with a finishing date for donations and a starting date for the auction and added every detail we could that we felt was going to help us and each other to run a smooth auction.
We had to adjust it during the week and while you are doing it you realise that small details are missing and you have to keep editing. The payment process was also not so easy as most were fine paying and prove their payment with a screenshot but some didn't even know where to start to screenshot a page so we had to support that too and that took some work and time! We didn't like to play police but we had to.
How long did the bidding run for and what was it like managing that process?
We kept the bidding running for 3 days after we collecting items for nearly 1 week.
It was pretty intense keeping an eye on everything and we had some late donations that we decided to add while the bidding was going on so we needed to make sure that pictures were added into the album for the bidding and not just in the main group page.
Some donors were giving more then one item so we had to do multiple posts, tagging people etc. We had to contact all donors to see if they would cover P&P costs as that was something we didn't think about at the beginning. We had to answer a multitude of questions on how the bidding was working as although we had at that point very detailed announcement posts, some still struggled to find the announcement section and read instructions.
You set a fundraising goal of £1,500 which you have totally smashed! Why do you think it has raised so much?
When people can get something back for their money they are more keen to spend. The items were really unique and mostly art and craft and people appreciate this.
I think also that Chester Zoo is in the heart of many in Cheshire and other parts of the country so everyone did their part, starting with sharing the group with as many people as they could! We also got some workers at Chester Zoo that jumped in to donate and share.
What would be your top tip for someone else thinking of running a fundraising activity like this?
Think all details ahead before jumping in. Don't just start and see how it goes. Do set rules from the beginning. Build a team before you start, with everyone's tasks well decided and organised.
Anything else people might like to know?
It's a full time job. I thought the auction would run itself but no, you have to be there constantly there. We are thinking of running more in the future and we will keep the group open.