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More than just a label

A case study of our first co-created fundraising campaign

23 October 2023

This case study was originally published by The Showcase of Fundraising Innovation & Inspiration (SOFII) on 11th October 2023.

In this case study, small charity Hear Me Out shares how they delivered their first co-created fundraising campaign. Hear Me Out started by inviting people with lived experience of the UK’s immigration system to join their team and tell their stories. Then, despite their small size and limited budgets, Hear Me Out offered paid roles and training – meaning the process of developing this fundraising campaign was mutually beneficial for those involved. Read on to find out more about how the team co-created a powerful appeal.

Background

Young or old, resident or refugee, 28,000 people every year are locked in UK immigration detention centres – waiting to find out if they will be deported. Their lives are stopped while authorities decide their fate.

Hear Me Out is a small UK-based charity that takes music-making into these centres and asylum hotels – sharing the words, the music and the life stories of the people held inside.

We help people inside immigration detention centres express their humanity through music – to air their losses and fears, their hopes and their dreams. But Hear Me Out is also committed to helping people outside to hear the music and understand the lives of people trapped in immigration detention centres.

Creator / originator

Our ‘More Than A Label’ fundraising campaign was co-created by Hear Me Out and a group of people with lived experience of being held in immigration detention centres and asylum hotels.

It was led by Kwaku, Jonathan, Diana*, Fernando* and Téa. After receiving training in content creation and fundraising, they worked together to design and execute the campaign, with Hear Me Out’s support.

It was clear from the beginning of the project that these five leaders shared a desire to explore the theme of labels, and the prejudices that those labels carry.

Jonathan and Kwaku also spent time with film and animation agency The Saltways, co-creating the videos featured in the campaign. Emma and the team at The Saltways, provided questions that would help them decide on their messaging, then they edited the films based on team leader’s feedback and their original campaign brief.

*Some names have been changed to protect the individuals’ identities.

Summary / objectives

At Hear Me Out, we have been working to embed co-creation across our whole organisation. But this is the first time we took it into our fundraising. We knew this way of working could remove the previous roles and ‘labels’ of staff and participants, or fundraisers and beneficiaries. Instead, our whole group took on shared roles of creatives and fundraisers.

Our initial fundraising goal was to raise £3,000 in donations, and hopefully increase our number of regular givers – giving the charity a more secure base of sustainable income.

We started the campaign by speaking to people who had worked with Hear Me Out in the past, asking if they would be interested in joining our co-creation fundraising team. Those people who were interested were then invited to apply for paid roles within the team.

Special characteristics

Once we’d appointed our team, the group wanted to decide on the message for the campaign – and identify the story they needed to tell.

Many of the team felt that they wanted to be ‘more than a label’ and to ‘be seen as what I was in my country’. They recalled how Hear Me Out’s outreach had been the moment they felt that the labels had been taken off. It was the moment they could be themselves again.

After taking part in photography workshops and further training (from Hear Me Out), the campaign leaders – Kwaku, Jonathan, Diana, Fernando and Téa – created films that told more about their stories and helped the donor to understand why Hear Me Out had made such a difference in their lives.

The team decided that the call to action (CTA) would be ‘show how I want to be seen’.

It took approximately 30 to 40 minutes of video footage to create one of the edited two and half minute videos.

Other relevant information

Amazingly this campaign was brought to life by the co-creation team in just six months, before launching in July 2023.

As a small charity, our budget for creating the assets was limited. So, to start we created an online landing page which we hoped would bring in new cash and regular donors. And we decided to use Facebook ads as a way to drive traffic to the page.

You can visit our campaign landing page.

We also created a warm appeal to our existing donors. We knew these donors already saw displaced people as more than a label, but we knew some might be inspired further by the stories and want to sign up to a regular donation.

Results

At the time of writing, this co-created campaign has been live for less than two months and the cold acquisition Facebook ads have paid for themselves already.

Our small charity has added nine new regular supporters to our donor base, which translates to an additional income of £840 per year, plus Gift Aid.

Hear Me Out also recruited 31 new cash donors, with an average gift of almost £18 each.

We hope these income figures will continue to grow as we promote the campaign via other avenues. It’s our aim to host a thank you event for all the donors who have supported the ‘More Than A Label’ campaign, later in the year.

Beyond fundraising, this co-created campaign has been hugely helpful in extending our reach. The films created by Jonathan, Kwaku and the team have been viewed over 167,000 times on Facebook and over 20,000 times on Instagram. Plus, we almost tripled our monthly website visitors during July-August, when compared to the previous two months. We’ve had new followers on Hear Me Out’s social media and have raised awareness of our small charity within new audiences.

Influence / impact

We are so grateful for every donation, but we also recognise that the impact of this campaign goes far beyond fundraising. It has strengthened the bonds within our community, reaffirmed our charity’s commitment to co-creation, and allowed us to pave the way for an even more inclusive and compassionate way of working.

This is what some of the leaders of the campaign had to say about working on the project:

‘This experience was unique, it felt like a therapeutic situation where I could express the essence of those who are victims trying to overcome the difficulties of life. I hope that this campaign reach everyone’s heart, bringing a more sensitive way to look anybody without prejudices.’Fernando*

‘I joined this campaign because I liked the idea of helping detainees and asylum seekers, having worked with Hear Me Out before in a Home Office’s immigration detention centre. They made me keep the music playing even during an agonising and stressful time in my life.’Jonathan

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