Yesterday afternoon, United Response presented Give Where You Live, and our learning from the process of leading an Open Innovation project, at the Institute of Fundraising’s inaugural Festival of Fundraising Innovation.

The presentation comes almost a year on from becoming 1 of only 10 charities selected to receive major investment from the Cabinet Office Open Innovation Programme.

The event brought together fundraisers and innovators from across the charity sector to share experiences of what has worked well and (equally importantly!) what has not worked so well in terms of innovation.

Highlights included the NSPCC sharing how they went from being one of the UK’s most innovative fundraising charities (you may recall the iconic ‘Full Stop’ campaign, for example), to ceasing investment in innovation as a response to the financial crisis. Since then, the NSPCC have realised their mistake, and have created a sophisticated ‘New Business Process’ that places innovation at the heart of their business model and describes a clear pipeline process for ideas to move from the ‘exploration’ phase to ‘launch’.

Elsewhere, the British Heart Foundation described how they successfully piloted ‘Love Installations’ in Covent Garden, raising funds and awareness whilst bagging the Institute of Fundraising’s ‘Innovative Campaign of the Year’ award along the way.

Lessons learnt from trying to work with innovation were remarkably consistent: the need to pilot and test in small ways before rolling out, the need to accept a certain amount of failure in order to encourage appropriate risk-taking and creativity (for example, Google fully expect 80% of their products to fail), the need for full organisational buy-in to the concept of innovation and, as keynote speaker Simon Gillespie stated: the need for any fundraising to be firmly embedded in the organisation’s core values and ethos.

From the beginning, this was central to Give Where You Live. Through the platform, we sought to address the challenges presented by the increasingly adverse financial climate and a seemingly declining level of public trust in fundraising and the charity sector in general by championing local, transparent, inspiring fundraising.

Above all, we wanted to ensure that the people we support, their family, friends, neighbours and other members of their community were not only happy with the fundraising we were doing, but were an active and valued part of it.

As such, we were delighted that 120 United Response services got involved in 4tea, our brand new flagship fundraising event that involved staff and people we support inviting members of their local community to join with them in celebrating United Response’s 40th anniversary.

Moreover, thanks to 4tea and the wider Give Where You Live project, 64 United Response services got involved in community fundraising for the very first time this year. From the 6 people we support at Crescent Road organising their own 4tea party which raised £171 towards new books and the use of car at their service to Laura, who we support in Wallsend, getting involved in asking local businesses to donate raffle prizes to raise funds for a new laptop – working with people we support to achieve their goals remains central to our mission. And fundraising is, as it should be, very much a part of that.

If you would like to know more about next year’s 4tea event, or how you can get involved with supporting your local service, please contact: [email protected]


Martyn Weeds, fundraising manager.