Melanie Denning shares the secrets behind the success of The Courtyard’s £20,000 I Heart CY appeal.
The Courtyard Centre for the Arts is the leading arts provider in Herefordshire and a registered charity.
In March 2016, we lost our annual grant from Herefordshire Council and we needed to find a way to replace £130,000.
After a period of restructuring and redundancies, the whole team knew the situation was serious and we needed to take action. We set ourselves a target to raise £20,000 in 16/17 from an individual giving appeal to support our community arts work.
The resulting I Heart CY appeal has just won ‘Best Individual Giving Campaign’ at the Emcees Fundraising Awards.
Developing the campaign
Most people know The Courtyard as a venue to watch live shows and films or to see exhibitions. Many are less familiar with our community arts programme that delivers enriching activities and workshops for all ages, both at The Courtyard and out across the county.
The Courtyard is rooted in the community. The building was the first lottery-funded arts centre in the country. It was developed within an old theatre space and has grown out of the community for the community. Our work focuses on touching people’s lives and we wanted the campaign to reflect that.
We had used video and storytelling to powerful effect before in marketing. I had also attended the Midlands Arts Fundraising Forum where other fundraisers had shared successes in using video so we started thinking about the stories we could tell.
We spoke to our Engagement team and identified four examples of how The Courtyard touches lives. Appropriate staff members then contacted the people they’d worked with and asked them to get involved. We developed four videos, which formed a central part of the campaign and helped build word of mouth through different networks.
Getting the team on board
We began developing the campaign within the Communications team and then talked to other staff and volunteers. We invited ideas and made sure it felt like their campaign, rather than ours.
The team got behind the campaign from the outset and suggested activities that proved vital in reaching our £20,000 target.
Our front of house team put forward the idea of a 50:50 Lotto, which was covered by our lottery licence. They sold raffle tickets at busy events, such as comedy nights, and selected a winning ticket for each event. The proceeds were split 50:50 between the winner and The Courtyard. Throughout the year we raised around £6,500 from those raffles alone.
Our Head of Communications set himself the challenge of running eight half marathons in eight months and raised around £1,500. Other team members took on different challenges and raised money from their family and friends.
All of these activities happened under the I Heart CY umbrella and helped raise awareness of the appeal.
Download the free case study to read on:
I Heart CY appeal (PDF)