Guest blog post by Ollie Smallwood
Pimp My Cause is opening up new doors for the causes of Upbeat and Samrong Farm and therefore I was only too happy to accept Paul’s offer to write a guest blog.
I represent the aforementioned two charities, both of which are featured on the Pimp My Cause site, and in the space of one fast-moving month each organization has benefited greatly from the wealth of contacts, knowledge and skills on offer through Pimp My Cause’s network of marketing experts.
Paul has asked me to share my experience of using Pimp My Cause as a platform in the hope that other good causes can also find the help they require. Firstly, let me put this experience into context through summarizing the causes and why they were in need of some Pimp My Cause treatment.
Upbeat is a music and performance charity providing services to support people recovering from mental health issues. The organization offers the opportunity for its clients to build practical skills, self-confidence and self-esteem through weekly music workshops, recordings, live performances and social events.
The charity has grown steadily since being founded in Camden in 2004 and the demand for Upbeat’s services is clearly evident through the referral of service users from 8 surrounding London boroughs. It is very much a community-based organization, supporting vulnerable members of society while offering uplifting events, which are open to all. Dare I say? – Upbeat is a big society idea that was dreamed up long before ‘The Big Society!’ Jargon aside; it’s clear and inspiring to see the positive impact that music and performance brings through inclusivity and instilling confidence in people from all walks of life.
Despite the success of Upbeat, an oversubscription to its services and patronage from the band Coldplay, recent local authority grant cuts have left the charity in need of reaching out to new supporters and funding. We are faced with the urgent need to market our cause more effectively and embrace the online community, social networks and any other avenues that could help raise our profile and increase our support base. Implementing such changes can represent a daunting challenge to a small organization but thanks to Pimp My Cause we’ve been able to take several steps in the right direction.
Samrong Farm is a rural project, based just outside Phnom Penh in Cambodia that provides a home for orphans and underprivileged children while taking a pioneering approach to sustainable development through education, agriculture and caring for the environment. Like Upbeat, it is a small charity that relies heavily on volunteers and needs to keep it’s marketing in order to reach out to new supporters and funders.
Upbeat: In advance of beginning a major fundraising campaign we were advised by professional fundraiser, Nigel Homer, to improve the Upbeat website and online marketing. With limited resources in terms of time and money we turned to PMC and posted a help wanted ad for web design and social media marketing.
Samrong: Promotion of Samrong Farm is ongoing and relies heavily on visual material (brochures, presentations e.t.c.) to raise awareness of this overseas project. Again due to limited resources, the branding and design of key documents has been somewhat neglected and in need of attention so I posted an appropriate appeal on the Pimp My Cause site.
Our exploration of the Pimp My Cause network of professionals and the subsequent help offered to both causes has exceeded expectations. So far Upbeat has already been lucky enough to benefit from collaboration with the following kind people:
1.Jeanette Clement gave some useful initial advice on web design and has agreed to stay in touch over possible further assistance in the future.
2. Zabisco – Marcus Marritt has offered some great tips on site content and social networking as well as agreeing to act as an ongoing consultant to Upbeat.
3. Ed Kemp & Rob Porter – Following a recent meeting we are very excited about the prospect of working with Ed, a web producer and information architect, and Rob, a graphic and web designer, on the creation of a new website for Upbeat. Their support, enthusiasm and recommendations have already provided a boost to the cause.
We are enormously grateful to all of the above for donating their precious time and professional skills. In addition, I was delighted to hear from Paul Skinner, the driving force behind Pimp My Cause, about the chance to meet with John Grant (author, social entrepreneur and extremely bright marketing brain). A number of ideas for funding came out of our subsequent discussion as well as several further contacts and an awareness of John Grant’s excellent book ‘Co-opportunity’ (An inspiration for anyone looking to tackle social or environmental issues in our modern world).
In short, the seed that was sown through Pimp My Cause has grown into several shoots. It is still early days but it has been encouraging to find so much support for Upbeat.
With my immediate focus on Upbeat I have had less chance to pimp Samrong Farm as a cause. Fortunately, the Samrong help wanted ad on Pimp My Cause was spotted by Kathryn Liston, who has offered her expert skills as a graphic designer. Kathryn has already started to transform our marketing documents into a more cohesive and eye-catching offer that I look forward to presenting in the near future.
Advice for Good Causes using Pimp My Cause
In case they can be of assistance to fellow worthy causes, here are a few tips from our Pimp My Cause experiences to date:
1. Be proactive. In the case of Samrong Farm we benefitted from posting a help wanted ad, which was picked up and responded to by graphic designer Kathryn Liston. With Upbeat we needed to be more pro-active and contacted several professional marketers by sending them messages through the Pimp My Cause site. No one took offence at this direct approach and we have received good support and advice from all.
2. Be selective. Taking the time to browse the profiles of the professional marketers allowed us to select those whose skills are aligned to the aspirations of Upbeat.
3. Be patient. We received a fantastic response from all the marketing professionals that we approached on Pimp My Cause but soon came to appreciate that pro bono work has to be fitted around the respective day jobs. As a result, we need to allow time to achieve our goals but it doesn’t mean that the support is any less committed.
4. Be realistic. At Upbeat we have a lengthy ‘wish list’ of things that we would like to achieve, including some large projects such as building a new website. With individuals having limited time to give, I have found it useful to break down the work in order to spread the load. ‘Many hands make light work’ e.t.c. This has the added benefit of widening the network associated with Upbeat as a cause.
5. Be grateful. This is something that Paul stressed in a previous news bulletin but we have been looking for alternative ways (other than financial) to reward anyone offering pro bono assistance. Hopefully we’ll be able to promote their work to a wider audience, offer them a chance to improve their portfolio and, above all, give a great deal of thanks along the way.
6. Be engaging – It’s always nice to be involved with something that people feel passionately about. We found that we have received an overwhelmingly enthusiastic response through creating a very short but enticing summary of Upbeat as a cause. We hope it serves to get marketers as excited about collaborating with Upbeat as we are about working with them.
Needless to say, I am a big supporter of Pimp My Cause and believe that it provides a forum for like-minded individuals and ultimately a platform for social change. Looking at it from a charity’s perspective, it presents the opportunity to seek out and engage with professionals who wish to share their valuable skills for the benefit of good causes. In my experience, a relatively small investment of time and effort has yielded a great deal of assistance in return – surely a worthwhile resource for any organization.