600 new regular givers from one campaign? It can be done!

Here at QTS Fundraising, we work with all sorts of charities. From the big household names like Samaritans and Alzheimer’s Society, to the less well known non-profits such as Education Support and British Liver Trust.

For these charities and many more, regular giving is their lifeblood. Regular givers provide them with a source of predictable, recurring revenue which means charities can exist, develop and plan ahead. This month, we wanted to cast the spotlight on a small environmental campaigning charity in our home county of Cornwall, which has had an unexpected boost to its regular giving income in recent months.

With just 25 staff, Surfers Against Sewage might be diminutive in stature, but it has established an incredibly dedicated and successful community of environmental supporters. Formed in 1990 by surfers who were fed up with seeing sewage polluting their seas and beaches, it now addresses a much wider spectrum of environmental issues – from water quality and climate change to ocean protection and plastic pollution.

While it’s very possible you might have come across SAS as part of a beach clean or education project, you may not be aware that the charity also works tirelessly lobbying the government on key issues affecting oceans, beaches and recreational water users, while advocating policies which are needed to deliver a cleaner and safer marine environment. Simultaneously, SAS is constantly challenging the water companies and big brands to adopt much better standards in order to protect our coastal environment.

Their #EndSewagePollution campaign was launched in the summer of 2020; a movement which included an online petition asking for signatures and support in order to create legislative action to stop water companies discharging sewage into rivers, lakes and waterways in England.

Support was requested primarily organically via the charity’s website and their social media platforms, incurring very little cost to the charity. Three months later, over 40,000 signatures were raised and as a result, The Sewage (Inland Waters) Bill is due its second reading in Parliament as soon as the current pandemic permits.

This is a staggering accomplishment in itself, but SAS did not stop there. Working with QTS, they utilised the lead generation from the petition for a regular giving campaign, with the aim of bringing in new regular donors to fund their ongoing work.

Ben Suffell, MD at QTS, explains further:

“We knew that this campaign had the potential to be huge; it went live during the pandemic, when lockdown meant that people were turning to their local water spaces more than ever before, whether it was for health, recreation or for mental well-being. This meant they were very open to, and interested in, the messaging, and of course, due to COVID, more people were at home and had the time to chat to us on the phone.

“We selected telephone fundraisers who were local to Cornwall, many of whom had been personally impacted by sewage and plastic pollution on their local beaches. As a result, they were already really fired up about the cause, very familiar with the work of SAS and highly supportive of its vision. It wasn’t long before I became aware of some brilliant, enlightening and meaningful conversations between fundraisers and people who had signed the petition – regardless of whether they decided to become financial supporters or not.

“But the results really do speak for themselves – our team was passionate about this campaign and turned out to be fantastic advocates and ambassadors for SAS, and they opened up genuine opportunities for the public to learn more about the work of SAS and other ways of getting involved.”

Franka Fuller, Head of Mass Giving at SAS, is happy to share the results of the campaign:

“We were blown away by the results we achieved and the quality of the conversations with our supporters. Final results included over 44,000 petition signers and over 600 new members – a huge dent in our yearly target. We’ve also made some very interesting new relationships with individuals and organisations with whom we can work in partnership to achieve more of our vision.

“Plus of course, the really important outcome is that we have the support to get this bill read in Parliament – and hopefully we will see an end to water companies routinely discharging untreated sewage into English sea and rivers, threatening the health of water users and the natural environment.”

Raising the profile of key environmental concerns, creating community ownership and collective responsibility of these issues, increasing the offers of help and the number of volunteers, potentially changing legislation – these are all impressive achievements, even more so given that they have been achieved from a single campaign. And what SAS has also demonstrated is that lead generation can make a significant impact to even the smallest of charities. If you’d like an informal chat about this, do get in touch.

About the author: Ben Suffell

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