Bishop's Stortford Scouts District


Posted on October 24th, 2014 by Strawberrysoup

Around the world in 500 days

How the Bishop’s Stortford Scouts District is using an innovative fundraising strategy to fund a trip of a lifetime for its Scouts.

The scouts, which offers challenges and adventure experiences for nearly half a million children across the UK, helps 6-25 year olds develop their confidence and skills in order to become active members of their communities. Run by volunteers, seven Scouts groups in the Bishop’s Stortford and District area provide life changing development opportunities – but these come at a price.

One of the most renowned of these opportunities is the World Scouts Jamboree, held every four years in locations across the globe and represented by 212 nations and territories, making the event larger than the Olympics. Originally organised by The Boy Scout Association in London and more recently by the World Organisation of the Scout Movement (WOSM), the Jamboree is a world class youth development initiative that brings together tens of thousands of 14 to 17 year old Scouts. Its primary aim is to give the children who attend an opportunity like no other, enabling them to meet other young people from countries they would never otherwise visit. This experience is championed as giving children a unique perspective on the world with an increased level of cultural understanding, enabling them to develop into informed citizens of the world.

Eight lucky members of the Scouts District will be attending the next Jamboree in Japan in 2015 and leader Simon Carter had a daunting task on his hands – to raise £3,250 for one of the group to attend. A percentage of this fee is also donated to the attendance cost for a Scout from a developing country, ensuring global nations are represented at the event.

“TheGivingMachine was guaranteed to raise the most money for us per donation”

Simon and his team looked into various fundraising methods in order to help the Scouts District to reach their target. His professional experience in marketing meant that he was familiar with online affiliate marketing schemes – where retailers pay a commission in return for sales referrals to their websites. While the majority of these schemes are used by profit making sales and marketing companies, some businesses are utilising this model to fundraise for charity. “I looked into a few affiliate fundraising models as there are a number to choose from,” said Simon. “What first struck me about TheGivingMachine is that it is the only model of its kind that operates as a not-for-profit company. With only limited time to fundraise for the Jamboree, TheGivingMachine was guaranteed to raise the most money for us per donation as gives the highest percentage unlike the other profit-making companies.”

Fundraising for free

TheGivingMachine’s simplicity was also a decision-maker for Simon. “I tried a few models and I found the TheGivingMachine’s website the easiest to use and the best metric-based model,” he explained. “Fewer clicks are required to make a purchase, which is an ideal benefit for the fundraisers I wanted to bring on board to make the process as simple as possible for them.”

The Scouts District signed up to TheGivingMachine in November 2013, and set their target. The team then began encouraging friends, family and members of the scouting community to start shopping through the site. By reminding the community to buy their supermarket shops, books and camping equipment the donations started adding up. “We have 66 Givers signed up to support us so far and 16 of those have made a purchase within the last three months,” explained Simon. “A great benefit for us is that some of our most active Givers have been able to make a number of large scale work-related purchases through TheGivingMachine such as company equipment and train tickets, which has been a fantastic help.” So far, the group has raised £1,466 through 981 donations and the major retailer donations so far include:

  • £340.24 donated by Amazon
  • £280.67 donated by Go Outdoors
  • £61.84 donated by Field & Trek
  • £55.85 donated by Viking
  • £36.83 donated by The Train Line

“By explaining to friends and family and what we are trying to achieve and encouraging them every few weeks, we have seen the fundraising totals increase month on month,” said Simon. “Through word of mouth and spreading the word of social media we have been able to widen the fundraising community circle which means more money for the cause!”

“Some can’t understand how it is completely free – persuading them has been the hardest part”

The biggest challenge Simon has found when encouraging shoppers to start using the site is persuading them that there is no catch when using TheGivingMachine. “Trying to explain to people my parents’ age who have disposable income has been the hardest part. They can’t get their heads around the fact it is completely free and that it is the retailers they shop with that donate the money on their behalf. I’m continuing to encourage them as many of them are keen online shoppers and it really is something for nothing with a tangible benefit.”

Functional and effective

TheGivingMachine provides clear and effective reporting tools in order for fundraisers to keep track of progress. On each charity page, a donation summary shows the current total, number of Givers and number of donations. “TheGivingMachine’s reporting tools are clear and functional which is important – I wanted to ensure that the fundraising community was kept aware of progress and TheGivingMachine’s reporting methods make this easy,” explained Simon.

One function TheGivingMachine utilises is the increased font size of the names of givers who have been the most active and donated the most within the reporting page. “This function is probably one of my favourites, as it is a great tool for me to encourage the fundraisers and acts as a kind of cheerleading system,” said Simon. “I keep the fundraising community informed of ‘who’s been big this week?’ and it’s a fantastic motivational tool for them.”

No comparison

Simon has been using a variety of other fundraising methods to help fund the trips of the remaining Scouts as all activity is funded through donations and philanthropy. “Other fundraising tools give more money over a shorter period of them but they are much more time intensive,” said Simon. Fundraising is often achieved through board room presentations and Q&As which can culminate in hours of work. Against TheGivingMachine, there is no comparison. It’s free, easy and no effort – a very effective fundraising solution.”

“We are growing a community who will continue to support our organisation in the future”

The Scouts District are already planning the next projects they will be nominating to receive fundraising through TheGivingMachine once the target has been met for the World Scouts Jamboree. “This is so much more than a single fundraising effort,” says Simon. “We are not just generating money, we are creating and growing a community who will continue to support our organisation in the future. TheGivingMachine will enable us to send one of our Scouts to the other side of the world for free – who knows what it will enable us to do next!”

For more information about using TheGivingMachine to help fund your next charitable project, visit

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