When coronavirus struck it was a worry for everyone, no matter what their age, race or gender. But most of all it hit the most vulnerable in society. With big races and events cancelled, the charity sector was hit particularly hard. A recent study by Pro Bono Economics has revealed that one in 10 UK charities is facing bankruptcy by the end of the year as they struggle to cope with a £10bn shortfall caused by soaring demand for their services compounded by losing fundraising income due to the coronavirus pandemic.
When our client Neurokinex, a spinal cord injury rehabilitation charity, came to us seeking our support to raise funds to protect its Newly Injured Scheme, we seized upon the chance to help. And the Step Up Appeal was born! We named the appeal and created its logo and identity.
The Step Up Appeal aimed to raise vital funds to safeguard the Neurokinex Newly Injured Scheme, which awards six free sessions to newly injured or diagnosed clients. A lifeline for many, it gives them access to the unique Neurokinex services that can have life-changing results. However, it costs the Neurokinex Charitable Trust £420 per person to fulfil and loss of income during lockdown put the scheme at serious risk of closure.
We supported Neurokinex to launch a two-month Step Up Appeal on June 1, 2020 with the aim to raise £25,000. A set of Neurokinex client challenges formed the basis of the fundraising which culminated in a silent Auction. We were delighted to see that Neurokinex doubled its original target and ultimately raised £52,850.49.
A mighty £28,322.56 was raised by the six Neurokinex clients aged two to 49 who set themselves a range of personal challenges to help protect the service that helped them:
- Ralph, 2, completed 100 leg presses on a contraption built by his grandfather
- Rob, 26, rowed 16.25 miles on a customized rowing machine devised from an upside down bicycle, curtain pole and pulley despite being paralysed from the neck down and dependent on a ventilator to breathe.
- Laura walked 10km using her crutches which inspired her friend Wendy to then run 68km to boost the fund raising.
- Damian completed a ‘sprint triathlon’ by lifting weights to ‘swim’, cycling on an exercise bike and walking laps of his local park on the one-year anniversary of his cycling accident.
- Alfie, 5, dressed as a superhero to cover over 30km self-propelling his wheelchair round (and round!) his garden and along nearby country lanes (ably supported by his 2-year-old brother Freddie running alongside).
- Finally, another plucky youngster Oscar, 6, covered a similar distance by pushing his wheelchair, using his walking frame and cycling on his trike.
Our role was to use craft their stories and challenges into media-worthy case studies. This resulted in 16 pieces of local coverage, two national articles appearing in The Sun and on ITV’s website, three TV news features across BBC Meridian, BBC Points West and ITV West Country and five local BBC radio interviews. We were able to reach an audience of over 1.5 million people.
Not only was the fundraising appeal was a resounding success, but awareness of Neurokinex and its life-changing work soared in those eight weeks. It brought newly injured people to their door and, having secured the scheme, as soon as lockdown ended, Neurokinex got straight back to work supporting people living with a spinal cord injury. All at a time in a very different and difficult media landscape!
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