Skip to main content

Providing top level service to our clients is at the heart of everything we do. So when the world shifted to online events and charities turned to virtual fundraising to keep donations coming in, we knew we had to adapt the way we worked in order to keep offering the best possible service.

Check out our video below as Ben Skinner goes behind the scenes at Bluestep’s warehouse to show you how things have changed.

Virtual Fundraising Takes Off

Despite being unable to go ahead with real-life events, charities were quick to think of alternative approaches. Enter virtual fundraising events! From baking online, to virtual quizzes, to online gaming fundraisers, we saw a huge increase in the demand for virtual fundraising events.

Whilst this was an exciting time, we understood that it would pose some challenges to those responsible for organising the events. With most people working from home, storing vast quantities of merchandise and getting it into the hands of supporters, was a real pain point for most of our clients.

Free storage and pick, pack and dispatch

We began offering free storage in our warehouse, so that the busy bees arranging the events wouldn’t have to worry about where to keep their t-shirts and doggy bandanas! It would all be safely tucked away ready to be shipped to their supporters at a moment’s notice.

Our pick, pack and dispatch service was also extremely valuable, as we offered the ability to distribute products anywhere in the world, at the click of a button. So whenever a new supporter signed up for an event, the Bluestep bunch got to work behind the scenes, to pick out their merchandise, pack it up safely and dispatch it to that very supporter in an instant.

As well as diversifying our range of merchandise to suit virtual fundraising events, we have provided support with the practicalities and logistics of storing and delivering it, allowing charities to carry on doing what they do best; raising money for all their incredible causes.

If you need any support with your virtual fundraising event then drop us a line or give us a call. We’d love to help!

 

It’s not an understatement to say that last year the world was forced to adapt in ways we could never have imagined. Due to social distancing guidelines, we have all had to take our IRL activities online. (Another Zoom quiz, anyone?!)

Sadly, for charities, the cancellation of thousands of mass participation events resulted in a loss of billions in fundraising income. However, whilst it has been undeniably tough for many charities, we are nonetheless staggeringly impressed with how fast-reacting and innovative they have been with their virtual fundraising ideas.

Here’s our round-up of some of the best charity challenge ideas we’ve seen in the last 12 months:

Running a virtual marathon

As the official Virgin Money London Marathon couldn’t go ahead as normal this year (other than for elite athletes), organisers encouraged charities to ask their supporters to tackle the 26.2-mile mountain within 24 hours wherever they could and then submit their results.

More than 37,000 runners completed the race, raising over £16 million for charities.

Whilst the idea of sponsored running for charity isn’t new, we are impressed that such a world-renowned event still managed to find a way to go ahead, despite such unprecedented setbacks.

 Get gaming

The mental health charity, Mind, tapped into the gaming phenomenon by establishing “the biggest fundraising gaming mission of all time”. As part of the event, ‘Switch Off, Game On’, the charity asked supporters to host and promote a sponsored stream or gaming event.

The campaign gets a thumbs up from us because not only did Mind take advantage of an emerging fundraising trend, but the concept was closely aligned to the charity’s purpose; connecting people.

P.S. We may also be influenced because Bluestep were involved in the fundraising event’s creative process. Find out more about that here.

Put on a show

With people unable to go out and celebs unable to film in a studio, Comic Relief and BBC Children in Need joined forces for the first time to present The Big Night In, an evening of virtual entertainment.

The telethon included performances from Miranda Hart, Sam Smith, a lockdown Vicar of Dibley sermon, a virtual EastEnders pub quiz and many more, all taking place remotely via video links.  The event raised a whopping £74 million, proving that technology really can be our best friend.

Easy does it #TwoPointSixChallenge

Were you even listening in 2020 if you didn’t hear of the 2.6 challenge?! Such a simple concept and yet it stirred up a storm on the internet.

The only basis for the challenge was 26 or 2.6, meaning participants could do anything from running 2.6 miles, bench pressing 26kg, or taking part in a 26-minute workout, as long as they were raising money for charity.

The simplicity of the fundraising challenge clearly appealed because the campaign attracted plenty of celebrities including Jonny Wilkinson and Dame Kelly Holmes and has so far raised over £11 million for lots of different charities.

It’s virtual quiz time

While many of us now have sudden hair washing commitments when friends suggest a virtual quiz, there was a time when virtual quizzing really got us going.

Laura Jones, founder of Eventures, raised over £133,000 for NHS Charities Together by hosting a series of themed online quizzes.

She started out with a virtual F.R.I.E.N.D.S quiz at the very beginning of lockdown, which sparked over 130,000 people to join in from across the world! She followed this up with a successful Disney-themed virtual quiz.

The moral of the story? If in doubt, get quizzical!

Virtual walkies!

We’ve all considered how the pandemic has affected human lives, but have we considered the effects it’s had on our beloved doggies? Due to social distancing, it’s likely that a lot of four-legged friends have also missed out on regular playtime with their pals.

The World Big Dog Walk Challenge is a series of dog walks held across the UK, uniting owners and their furry friends, with money going towards different dog charities. Seeing as it couldn’t go ahead in person in 2020, the organisers made it virtual and encouraged people and pooches to clock up their pledged miles in their own time, aiming to hit a total of 40,075km; that’s the circumference of the Earth!

 Online auction or raffle

While you don’t need a private virtual recording with Sting or a virtual cooking lesson with Heston Blumenthal up your sleeve, it certainly helps. This is what premier auction house, Sotheby’s, found when they raised money with a very prestigious online auction set up to raise money for the International Rescue Committee’s Covid-19 efforts.

If you don’t happen to have Sting on speed dial, we see no reason why other virtual auctions and raffles can’t make a real difference. Whether it’s a pledge to do the housework, or to bake a cake every month, charities can ask their supporters to contribute in all sorts of ways.

We all need a hero

Captain Tom Moore aimed to walk 100 laps of his garden ahead of his 100th birthday to raise money for NHS Charities Together. Footage of Captain Tom, resplendent in his military medals, tackling his mammoth task clearly pulled at the heart strings of the nation as he raised over £30 million and became our 2020 hero.

We salute Captain Tom as we remember that, with good intentions and a bit of determination, anything is possible.

 

Good luck if you are considering a virtual fundraising event and if you need any support with design or merchandise, please get in touch.

10 tips on how to make your virtual fundraising event stand out and increase smash your donations targets.

You’ll probably never face a more challenging time for your charity that right now. Not surprisingly, there’s a huge amount of fear and anxiety among charities at the moment. You may have seen a big reduction in charitable donations and decreased participant sign ups due to your fundraising events being cancelled. Many of your key staff may have also been furloughed and your charity income may have been hit hard. It’s difficult to not be disheartened and worried about how it will all end. 

This is why SO many charities are reacting and adapting by shifting their focus to virtual fundraising. As charity sector specialists we’ve helped to create events, their identities and merchandise for many successful charity events.  We believe in sharing with our community and so we thought we’d put together our top tips on how to navigate the virtual fundraising landscape! 

 Follow these tips and you’ll learn what aspects underpin a successful virtual fundraising event & have every chance of not only surviving the crisis but coming out even stronger than before. 

1. Define your target audience.  

As with any event or piece of communication, it’s important to know who you are talking to. If you’re used to holding any type of event, mass participation or otherwise, you’ll know the type of person you attract to those events. You may want to target those same people, or use your online presence to reach a whole new audience.  Either way, it’s best to know who you’re talking too, the more refined and pointed, the more accurately focused your event can be. 

2. Set yourself a realistic fundraising target.  

It may sound obvious but generally speaking, the more money you would like to raise, the more people you need to get involved. If your charity has a wide reach, you can set yourself a higher target. But be realistic too, a wide reach could be better served with several smaller events. The key is that you know your targets in order to know the shape and size of an event. 

3. Set yourself a non-monetary objective too. 

Your virtual fundraising event doesn’t have to be purely about raising lots of money this time around.  You can use the event to increase awareness of a particular service that your charity provides or maybe you have demographic that you would like to be more involved in your charity. Your virtual fundraising event is a mini advertising campaign so maximise your investment… just don’t try and do too much. 

4. Identify key dates. 

The beauty of virtual fundraising events is that they can be done any time.  But not setting a definite timeline or date can be detrimental to involving your fundraisers.  Online events work best when they have a defined period.  This not only makes them easier to manage, it also gives more clarity about when your fundraisers should take part. Whether it’s a day or a few weeks, setting that time makes everything a lot easier to plan around. You’ll be able to introduce the event, encourage participation and increase donations far more easily. 

5. Have an idea.  Or don’t. 

Charity teams are full of creative people and you’ve been creating fundraising events for years.  If you’ve got an idea that’s been dormant for years or you don’t know how to get it off the ground, give it a go as a virtual event, they’re much lower risk than those physical events that require space, property, insurance… (you know the drill).  If you’re scratching your head, we can help. 

6. Give your virtual fundraising event a clear identity.

With a crowded market, it is hard to stand out and with no clear identity it’s easy to be overlooked. Having a clear identity will make your event stand out from the crowd. A clear identity for your event will also ensure that people notice the event and not mistake it for any other comm’s you have out at the same time. Be clear with what your event is about and convey that through your identity.  

7. Have assets to send to your fundraisers. 

If you’re asking your fundraisers to do something online, ensure that they look good or have the tools to do what they need. Share assets that they can use on social platforms to make their space stand out from all their other content. 

8. Have a plan for marketing your event.

It may look simple and easy but you need to give some consideration about how best to reach your audience.  Ensure that your demographic will see your content where you intend to share it and consider where to use paid media in order to reach a wider demographic and new supporters. Acknowledge that you will need to be in front of your audience in a productive way throughout your events timeline. 

9. Thank your supporters just as you would at a physical mass participation event. 

You know that your fundraising supporters appreciate the thank you they receive across your events.  For some they have achieved a lifetime goal, for others, it’s a chance to cement relationships and to feel part of a team.  We know that merchandise continues to solidify relationships with supporters, receiving a medal recognising the achievement or a t-shirt that reminds the team of the camaraderie shared, is often an emotionally well received thank you.

10. Do you have existing resource to manage a fundraising event? 

Do not underestimate an online (Virtual) event, it is important to give all aspects consideration and be able to support the online necessary platform. The good news is that they are easy to manage and a doddle to learn.  But if you need any additional support, we can help. 

 

Need Additional Support? Drop us a line to see how we can help you with your online, virtual fundraising events. 

As a leading charity merchandise partner, we understand the enormous pressure fundraising teams are under to reduce their environmental impact. We love to support charities with their sustainability goals, which is why we’ve come up with 10 top tips to help you #GoGreen with your fundraising merchandise.

Runner running through road covered in plastic cups

There’s no doubt about it, charity merchandise is an essential part of your fundraising strategy. Whether it’s kitting out your marathon team with branded technical running vests, or inspiring a local school to host a charity bake sale with an innovative fundraising pack, charity merchandise can be a really great way to spark impactful change.

However, it’s a sad truth that many of the most common fundraising items can have a significant environmental footprint, with popular single use plastic items such as disposable banners, cheer sticks and water bottles heading straight to landfill.

But it’s not all doom and gloom! It is possible to spread your charity’s important messages in a more sustainable way; here are our 10 top tips to help you #GoGreen with your fundraising merchandise.

1. Ditch the single-use plastic!

Unfortunately, a lot of key fundraising items such as running vests are supplied in an individual plastic bag as standard. Speak to your charity merchandise supplier to see if they can produce your merchandise without using a plastic polybag or find out if they have any alternatives. At Bluestep, we have taken steps to minimise unnecessary packaging and have switched to a 100% biodegradable polybag for all our technical clothing.

2. Get supporters involved

Getting your supporters on board by sharing your environmental goals can be a great way to reduce waste, letting them know how to dispose of merchandise responsibly and providing clearly labelled recycling bins at your events will make this easy (be sure to check with your local authority which materials they can accept for recycling ahead of any events though!).

3. Find a supplier who specialises in eco-friendly merchandise

From cycling jerseys made of recycled plastic bottles to biodegradable banners and cheer sticks… there’s a green answer to everything! We had a great time finding these alternatives last year when we launched ECO by Bluestep – a product line designed specifically with charities in mind, using eco-friendly & recycled materials and certified suppliers, you can find out more here.

4. Supplier Checks

We believe that every charity has the right to know how and where their charity merchandise is made, so ethical sourcing has always been an integral part of the Bluestep culture. If your charity merchandise supplier is sourcing your products from factories in the Far East, don’t be afraid to ask them for copies of their factory audits, testing policies and company environmental policies, to ensure their supplier chain is properly vetted.

5. Design considerations

Managed to get a corporate sponsor on board for your flagship event? Great news! Consider whether you need to get all of your items cobranded though, instead investing in generically branded materials to be used across multiple events can be a great eco-conscious decision.

6. Be proud!

If you opt for eco-friendly merchandise, don’t be afraid to shout about it. We partnered with Marie Curie for their 2020 kit where the sustainability status of the items was featured, both on their clothing swing tags and biodegradable cheer sticks, and it looks great! Make the most of your green credentials and lead the way for other charities.

7. Go Paperless. Go Digital!

From digital fundraising packs and event promo videos to social media downloads, there are many ways to inspire your supporters and boost engagement digitally. If you must use printed materials though make sure that your contact list is up to date, consider reducing the size of your communications and switch to recycled or FSC Certified paper.

8. Recycle old stock

Although charity rebrands can be great for increasing awareness and re-defining your charity’s brand and messaging, left over branded stock is common and can be super wasteful. Consider phasing out old stock over a period of time to reduce unnecessary waste or partnering with charities such as TRAID (who help turn clothing waste into funds and resources) to reduce the environmental impact of your new look.

9. Shipping – know your options

If you are ordering more than one type of item, or ordering your event materials in bulk, check to see if your supplier can combine shipping as a more environmentally friendly option. The lead time might be slightly longer, but you’ll reduce your carbon footprint and will make an overall cost saving.

10. Join The Charity ECO hub

We recently came across a fantastic social media forum consisting of over 700 charity members that are all dedicated to reducing the environmental impact of charities across the globe. Group Founder and Fundraising Consultant, Karen Edgington, explains that the group is a “movement which shares ideas and information, engages in constructive discussion and finds alternative solutions, all to reduce the potential negative impact of trying to make a positive impact.” You can join the charity eco hub here.

Interested in hearing more about how Bluestep can help your charity to #GoGreen?

With over a decade of experience in the charity and merchandise sector, spreading the word about sustainability is top of our agenda. That’s why we created ECO by Bluestep and why we are continuing to help charities with their sustainability goals. We supply products that charities feel confident buying and proud sharing; get in touch now to find out more!

On your marks, get set, bake! For another year running, Bluestep have had the pleasure of working with Macmillan Cancer Support on their fundraising packs for The World’s Biggest Coffee Morning.

Any excuse to bake, and more importantly eat, cake is fine by us. So, when it’s for an amazing cause it’s even sweeter.

After working hard on this exciting top-secret project earlier on in the year, we have been really looking forward to seeing everyone hosting their coffee mornings and watch the products in action.

The 2018 pack includes an array of fun props to ensure hosts and participants get the most out of their morning. This includes flags, stickers, a fundraising box, bunting, tablecloth, bake-related games, cards and ‘mmm’ bunting; which our very own designers created!

1.5 million of these units were printed, stored and shipped back in June by yours truly, at our very own warehouse facility.

The masterpieces for our own coffee morning included a refreshing lemon drizzle, an indulgent red velvet creation and a selection of tasty cookies.

Not one to shy away from the cake, next month sees the launch of our very own Bluestep Bake Off! Keep your eyes peeled on the blog to watch it all unfold. Fingers crossed for no soggy bottoms!

We hope everyone across the UK had an amazing coffee morning raising money (and bakes) for such an important cause.  We’re already looking forward to next year, so stay tuned to see what we have planned…

Our partnership with Kingswood has seen Bluestep get our foot firmly through the door of the e-commerce world.

After 7 months of development and testing of the Kingswood e-commerce shop, their online store is now live, allowing their customers to head online for Kingswood merchandise.

With a vast offering of branded products including cuddly teddy bears, stationery and camp kits, they were on the hunt for an external agency to source, store and distribute all of their online stock.

They reached out to Bluestep and loved what we could offer. Thanks to our expansive Grendon-based storage facility, we’re now storing and distributing over 100,000 items for their online and retail shops.

An image of Kingswood's colourful tube pencil holders that are available in their stores and online shop

Kingswood are just one of a few outdoor & education centres we work with and see over 165,000 children visit their activity centres every year from over 75 countries.

With 10 locations across the UK and Northern France, they are one of the smaller activity centres in their industry, however, their growth in retail continues to grow year-on-year and we’re excited to continue our work with Kingswood as they develop.

We’re proud to have been asked once again to sponsor the Cycle4Cynthia event for 2017!

With the massive success of last year’s event, the Cynthia Spencer Hospice have kindly asked us to sponsor them for their 2017 Cycle4Cynthia event, taking place in September.

We’re not the sort to ever turn down an opportunity to support such an amazing local charity. And with the values of Cynthia Spencer Hospice falling in line with our own values so closely, we couldn’t resist sponsoring them for their biggest fundraising event of the year.

Last year’s event saw over 1,100 cyclists take on Northampton’s finest country trails on the 5, 25 and 50-mile race, raising a whopping £76,000!

Each year the Saints Rugby team support the Cycle4Cynthia race, and this year we’ve managed to snag some snaps of them filling out Bluestep’s finest cycling jerseys, with 250 made especially for the event.

An image showing the Saints rugby team wearing the Bluestep jerseys produced for the Cycle4Cynthia 2017 event

Our designers even made little back pockets to hold your shoes and water bottle (high fashion, we know).

This year’s Cycle4Cynthia event takes place on September 24th September at Northampton’s grand Lamport Hall and will be led by double Olympic silver medalist, Becky James. To get involved and fundraise for the Cynthia Spencer Hospice, simply head to their registration page. It doesn’t matter if you’re just a leisure rider, a business team or a serious cyclist – everyone’s invited!

In the meantime, if you work as part of a charity and are looking for fresh new jerseys or merchandise for your next fundraising event, give us a call or drop us a message. We’d love to chat over coffee about how we can help.