The national charity that supports people with disabilities and mental health needs is embarking on an ambitious project to transform its culture of giving.
“Our problem is we’re a big national charity with the fundraising problems of a small start-up,” said Diane Lightfoot, Director of Communications and Fundraising at United Response, when the charity began working with the Innovation in Giving Fund.
As an organisation almost entirely funded by local authority contracts, fundraising had traditionally been peripheral. However, with demand for its services greater than ever, the charity needed to step up its fundraising efforts.
With its 40th birthday coming up in 2013, the charity saw an opportunity to kickstart this cultural change, by tying it in with a celebration where giving is intrinsically linked. United Response partnered with Innovation in Giving awardee timto (which uses birthday gift lists to encourage charitable giving), adapting its existing technology to create a new platform, which enables people to purchase gifts and donate them to their local service.
The charity also worked with social enterprise Reason Digital to launch a new interactive platform, Give Where You Live, which helps people discover local projects and events. For example, for its 40th birthday United Response organised ‘4tea parties’ across the country (now an annual fundraising event) – the platform enabled users to find their nearest event.
In addition, United Response worked with fellow IiG awardee Do It to integrate volunteering into the platform.
The charity says the cultural change instigated through Innovation in Giving has been the main legacy of the Give Where You Live project, and the team are seeking to build on this in three ways:
1) Exploring a partnership with Instagiv to make signing up to host or attend ‘4tea’ events simpler and to offer text-based giving via the keyword ‘tea’;
2) Expanding 4tea, focusing particularly on encouraging supporters and family members of the people the charity supports to host (as opposed to attend) 4tea parties;
3) Launching a ‘Friends of United Response’ scheme for volunteer community fundraisers.
United Response is also exploring the possibility of a partnership with a sector infrastructure body to make the Give Where You Live platform available to other charities.
United Response was awarded £90,148 through the Open Innovation Programme to predominantly cover adapting Timto’s technology, development of the web platform, staffing and integration with the Do It platform.