Planning a charity fundraiser? If it involves an event, consider staging it in-store to maximise donations and boost your brand in the process
Although many agencies are involved with charity fundraising, some have chosen to open up their shops as venues for giving back to the community, helping raise donations – and their profile – in the process.
We catch up with three agents to find out why their in-store charity events have been so successful.
World Travel Lounge in Blackpool recently partnered with local homelessness charity The Albert Project after noticing an upsurge in the problem.
“The local media had been reporting on the issue a lot, so we decided to speak to local businesses and ask people to volunteer to come into the shop after hours to help,” explains David McDonald, the store’s managing director.
“A local barber offered to give haircuts and a [nearby] bar donated pizzas. We also received tons of clothing donations, with one woman driving 50 miles from Manchester to deliver some. On the night, a local outreach charity drove around looking for people sleeping rough to bring into the store,” he adds.
MacDonald believes hosting the event in-store contributed to its success. “Another local venue wouldn’t necessarily get as much traction as your place of business because people know you and trust what you’re doing is benefiting the right people,” he advises.
Spear Travels in Boroughbridge regularly hosts events in-store, and this year it plans to tie these in with raising money for the Family Holiday Association (FHA).
“Our branch is an obvious place to hold an event because we have daily customer footfall. Hosting an event in-store can bring more people in, making it more likely to generate business as well as donations,” explains group operations director Trevor Davies.
He advises other agents considering hosting in-store charity events to contact the charity they are fundraising for, as they might be able to donate fundraising packs or collateral to help promote the cause.
Spear Travels received promotional kits from the FHA for all its branches, which included branded tablecloths, T-shirts and collection tins with materials explaining how donations can help.
Davies believes having fundraising material available in-store has been a factor in helping the company hit £1,000 of its £10,000 target in 2020 so far.
He adds that the FHA’s cause also strikes a chord with customers, encouraging them to donate. “A lot of our customers can’t imagine not being able to have a holiday, so if they are in the shop booking a £10,000 break for themselves, most people won’t begrudge putting a tenner into the collection pot.”
Hays Travel in Plymouth also runs regular in-store events. Senior travel consultant Stacie Sweeney recommends capitalising on popular times of year to host themed in-store charity events.
For example, the Hays Plymouth team used Halloween as a hook for a Halloween Spectacular event to raise money for the cancer ward at a local hospital.
“We decorated the shop with a life-sized skeleton, put pumpkin bunting around the window and added lots of touches to make it feel spooky, and all the staff dressed up too,” Sweeney says.
Plenty of customers were drawn in to the agency by the activities taking place on the day, which included pumpkin carving and a colouring competition for children. “We had lots of activities for kids which attracted families, and we also offered the chance to have some cake and a drink, which helped get people in,” she adds.
Sweeney also advises agents considering hosting in-store events to ask local organisations for support. “Before the Halloween Spectacular event we asked shops and businesses in the area to donate for a raffle we were holding. We were given tickets by a local theme park, and a scaffolding company gave us £100 to buy prizes, so we ended up having really good stuff to give away. We managed to raise just over £400 in total on the day, and Hays Travel matched that.”
The event turned out to be a big success in terms of both raising money and the profile of the business. “As the Hays store in Plymouth is a relatively new shop, there were a number of advantages to holding the event in-store,” adds Sweeney.
“We managed to raise awareness of the Hays brand and meet other local businesses. It was also a good chance for potential customers to get to know the team. We did make some new clients, however that was just an added bonus – the main thing was that we raised money for an amazing charity.”
While there are many benefits to hosting in-store charity events, World Travel Lounge’s McDonald, who is already planning the next in-store event to help the homeless, says fundamentally it’s all about giving back. “Ultimately, the satisfaction of helping somebody and also showing your customers that you care is worth its weight in gold.”