Innovative fundraisers to plug holes for GAFIRS and RNLI

It’s no surprise that charities are struggling to raise money during the pandemic as multiple lockdowns curtail traditional revenue streams – including second-hand shops, specific gift shops, sponsored group activities and face to face collections. The RNLI has announced it’s recruiting 200 face-to-face fundraisers for this summer across the UK to share vital safety messages and encourage new supporters to sign up and donate.

In the meantime, people around the country are rising to the challenge and coming up with covid-inspired events to support groups like Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue Service (GAFIRS) – which looks after the Solent and surrounding areas.

Tomorrow sees the opening of the Alverstoke Art Trail which is being organised to support GAFIRS after its traditional New Year’s day swim was cancelled – leaving a hole in the donations. The trail’s open until Sunday 21 Feb.

The art trail consists of 57 houses who’ve decorated their windows with marine-themed paintings and installations. People who live locally are being encouraged to buy a map – from which the profits will go to GAFIRS – and walk the route in their household bubbles.

“We’d hoped that restrictions would have been lifted by now, and that people from out of Gosport could come and see the amazing windows,” says Hebe Compton, art trail organiser and also MIN marketing officer. “But because of covid – and having to stay local – that’s not the case. Even so, I’m delighted with how much we’ve raised so far, and by the number of houses who’ve got involved.

“I was originally aiming for ten houses, and now it’s nearly sixty. I suppose it’s less of a walking trail and more of a cycling one now – it’s about six miles all in. It just goes to show how communities want to come together to support amazing volunteer organisations like GAFIRS.

Tickets are only £7.50 per household, so even if you can’t come because of having to stay local, please consider supporting GAFIRS and buying a map anyway.”

Fame helps to raise money

Comedian Vic Reeves (James Moir) has been raising money by doing ‘speed art’ on record sleeves. He’s raised money for the RNLI and has long been using his art to support charity – it helps that he’s talented too.

Moir says the RNLI is a ‘great charity’. He lives next to the sea, and is keen on watersports so he knows ‘what the terrors of the sea can be.’

But it’s not all community efforts or famous faces which bring in the money.

The people of Portrush showed their generosity when John Martin had his locks shorn to raise funds from the RNLI last September.

According to the Coleraine Chronicle, even before the exercise was completed his Just Giving page had clocked up in excess of £1,600.

Impact on RNLI

“In this changing and challenging environment, it’s very hard to predict with absolute certainty what impact the coronavirus will have on our financial situation,” says the RNLI. “Like many charities, the RNLI’s ability to raise vital funds has been affected by the pandemic; our legacy income is down, our 174 shops were shut at the height of restrictions, and face-to-face fundraising was unable to take place. Added to this, the continued uncertainty means that we don’t know when or where further impact might happen in the next few weeks and months. Our current projections indicate a significant decline in our fundraising income in 2020, compared to our planned levels.”

One man and horse

But by far the award for the most epic fundraiser goes to Barry Johnston who rode his horse nearly 900 miles from Land’s End to John o’ Groats and raised over £14,000 along the way.

“I would like to thank all those who helped me,” says Johnston. “There are far too many for me to remember all of your names. Some of you gave me food when I was hungry, dried my clothes for me, helped me find a good spot to camp and tether the horse. We’ve raised over £14,000 including gift aid. Obviously I had a lot of cash donations but I spent some of that throughout my journey, I had to get a new tent.”

Online support

The RNLI is also utilising its immense online reach to garner support. Watch an example below as it recaps its work in Storm Ciara.

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