David Ross Education Trust selects InvestMyCommunity for its main annual fundraising event!

The David Ross Education Trust is a network of unique and diverse academies that are committed to becoming one of the top-performing multi-academy trusts in the UK. From Scarborough to London, the Trust’s Inspiration Fund creates life-changing experiences for over 13,000 students in 34 primary and secondary schools across the country. It’s an award-winning programme designed to help students access the very best in sports, music, culture and outward bound activities.

The Trust’s Inspiration Fund enables the Trust to deliver an enrichment programme of sport and music that is the only programme of its kind in the state sector. The DRET Enrichment Programme is successful at providing the kind of life-changing experiences normally only available at fee-paying independent schools. This is particularly important because within the Trust’s catchment area, there are many students qualifying for the Free School Meals and Pupil Premium programmes.

Traditionally, the Trust had used paper-based methods for raising money for all its Inspiration Fund activities, as Alice Page, Fundraising and Events Manager, explained: “We’ve always taken a typical route when it comes to fundraising, but when Covid-19 struck, we realised that we needed to look at different ways to raise sponsorship and collect the money. Suddenly, the simplest of tasks – collecting cash – was fraught with new dangers, so we needed a rethink.”

Campaign KeyFacts

  • First time using InvestMyCommunity
  • Raised almost £24k in two weeks from 480 individual sponsorship pages versus £30k from 2,500 offline participants
  • Average raise of £50 per student on InvestMyCommunity versus £11 per student on paper
  • Massive reduction in administrative burdens for key fundraising campaigns
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“I cannot tell you how many hours InvestMyCommunity has saved us,”
Alice Page, Fundraising and Events Manager

Fundraising Goal

With its major annual event on the horizon, the Trust approached InvestMyCommunity to see if it could help streamline the organisation’s fundraising activities, particularly the form-filling and administration as well as eliminate the new risk – and burden – of counting and processing cash.

“Our annual Santa Run has rapidly become the single biggest fundraising activity we hold each year,” said Alice. “With thousands of children, friends, parents and grandparents wanting to take part, it’s also become one of the largest bureaucratic challenge we face. We urgently needed a way to reduce the amount of paperwork for the Trust and each of our academies to make it more efficient and of course, make the whole initiative Covid secure.”

The Santa Run gives students the chance to raise sponsorship for a Santa suit that they can wear, and other special merchandise associated with the event. This can include a full suit, a Santa hat and a medal to commemorate their participation.

Alice explained: “Students can choose to walk, jog, woddle, run or whatever they like. It’s a really fun and festive way to raise money and support the incredible sporting and musical opportunities available to our students through the Inspiration Fund.”

A campaign page for every student

After being approached by Alice and the Trust team, InvestMyCommunity agreed to develop new sponsorship capabilities on its platform. This would allow every individual participant to create their own mini campaign and associate it with the Trust’s main Santa Run page. This addition to the platform proved game-changing for the Trust.

Over the course of a few days, more than 480 students had set up their own dedicated InvestMyCommunity sponsorship pages. In fact, the event was so successful and the volumes of donation traffic so large that the site had to increase server capacity to handle demand.

“We saw a one-hundred fold increase in traffic to our site in one 24-hour period,” explained Chris Rose, CEO of InvestMyCommunity. “While we were quickly able to increase our cloud server capacity, we were delighted by the response and take-up of the Santa Run campaign.”

"The response was incredible"

“It’s only the second year we’ve run this event and we had no idea how successful this event was going be in the middle of a pandemic, but the decision to include the InvestMyCommunity platform alongside traditional, paper-based fundraising provided a new, and safe, dimension of fundraising for the Trust,” said Alice. “We hoped the Santa Run would provide something uplifting for our students and families, in a year that has been so challenging for everyone. We were overwhelmed by the generosity of donations from the families, friends and relatives of our students and levels of participation.

"I cannot tell you how many hours work using InvestMyCommunity saved us. What was just as important was the time the development and customer service teams took to create new options for us and respond quickly to any queries raised by parents or schools. They were just fantastic at every stage. With InvestMyCommunity, we felt we were part of developing a solution that was perfectly suited to our needs. There’s no way we would have got the same level of attention and care from the huge crowdfunding platforms."

Alice Page

Over 2,500 Trust students signed up for this very unusual edition of the Santa Run. Of course, all necessary Covid precautions were taken to make sure that all runs were completed in existing school bubbles and took full account of national Covid-19 guidance and restrictions.

“The response to Santa Run this year was incredible. In total, we raised over £50,000, which was far more than we raised in 2019. Over the past year, we’d done a lot of work to promote the Inspiration Fund and the value it brings to our students, so we were hopeful that the response would be more positive, but raising this amount of money in the middle of a global health pandemic was well beyond our expectations and we have InvestMyCommunity to thank for a good part of that,” said Alice.

While the Trust had the option to roll-out a 100% online only sponsorship process, it decided to run both InvestMyCommunity and a paper-based approach in tandem to see how the old world and new worlds would compare.

“I cannot tell you how many hours work using InvestMyCommunity saved us,” said Alice. “What was just as important was the time the development and customer service teams took to create new options for us and respond quickly to any queries raised by parents or schools. They were just fantastic at every stage. With InvestMyCommunity, we felt we were part of developing a solution that was perfectly suited to our needs. There’s no way we would have got the same level of attention and care from the huge crowdfunding platforms.”

In total, the Trust raised almost £24k on InvestMyCommunity including Gift Aid and £30k using the traditional paper-based process, which were far more time-consuming and laborious, in particular this year, because of Covid restrictions.

Raising money for real people

In fact, the InvestMyCommunity approach has been so successful that the Trust is planning to make its 2021 Santa Run online crowdfunding only using the platform. It is also planning to host another event, the Colour Run, which is a summertime equivalent of the Santa Run where people get messy and throw paint on each other as they run.

“Now that our schools have trialled the online giving approach, have built some familiarity and seen it work, they trust it. Everyone found it so easy and fun to share the link to their campaign page rather than use paper forms and adding Gift Aid involved just the click of a button,” Alice added.

“We’re looking forward to continuing our online fundraising offer through InvestMyCommunity. It makes the whole process so easy because all you have to do is share a link with someone and when you see all our fundraisers in their Santa suits with their own individual pages, it gives you a tremendous sense of community, which is truly inspiring. When you visit InvestMyCommunity you get this strong sense that you are actually raising money for real people and that’s vital for us.”

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