It is not dramatic to say everything is different. Coronavirus quite literally has changed everything, and this has been felt by everyone, including charities.
For The Eve Appeal, the UK’s leading gynae cancer charity, which funds research, raises awareness and runs a nurse-led information line, at least a third of our income came from community and sports fundraising alone. An income stream that almost stopped overnight.
Pitching stories that weren’t directly related to Covid19 also became almost impossible as health journalists were overwhelmed with sharing critical information and guidance around the pandemic. Plus the public are also quite rightly worried and preoccupied by the pandemic and fantastic and worthy causes that usually cross someone’s mind, are currently pushed to the back.
So all things considered, why run a fundraising campaign during Covid19?
We chose to run Get Lippy, our corporate fundraising campaign that partners with a host of beauty and lipcare brands and Gets Lippy and Loud about gynae cancers through May, after a lot of discussion. To make it work it needed some rethinking and a new strategy. Get Lippy is (clearly) a very loud campaign and we needed to make sure it was sensitive and relevant where possible to what people were going through, without trying to inappropriately take away from the pandemic. Nearly all of Get Lippy had to be online, and this meant focusing on social media and on new ways to fundraise. Thankfully the campaign was a success, and going ahead was absolutely the right thing to do.
As much as all of our work at The Eve Appeal is important and makes a big impact, highlighting what we are doing that helps people during the pandemic was key to making Get Lippy work. People clearly want to help, in any way they can, to lessen the impact and pain of coronavirus, and focusing on how we help people with their worry during this time resonated. So instead of focusing on funding research as originally planned, we turned to Ask Eve, our nurse-led information service, which has seen a huge increase in calls since March and is there to answer people’s questions and give advice on worrying gynae symptoms, cervical screening and treatment plans for gynae cancers. Our donors responded well, they clearly wanted to help us help people affected by gynaecological cancer, and keep Ask Eve there to take some pressure off front line staff.
Tomorrow is our annual GET LIPPY DAY. It’s a chance for our supporters to make some noise about us and to raise funds for our work. Please post a selfie of you sending a kiss to three people you miss, and text LIPPY to 70490 to donate £5 to our gynae cancer prevention work. 💋 pic.twitter.com/tOzy2OgGoK
— The Eve Appeal (@eveappeal) May 14, 2020
Promoting our campaign amidst a pandemic
For our media campaign, we needed to rethink completely. What were our worries as a gynae cancer charity right now? How did we think the pandemic would impact our mission of a future where fewer women were diagnosed with, and more women survived, gynaecological cancers? Turns out this was easy, as we had been talking for weeks about our worries and what we need to do to help. As a charity with a focus on prevention and early diagnosis it has been clear to us that people are putting off getting symptoms checked out, which will lead to a huge issue further down the line with people being diagnosed late with gynae cancer, which will have a huge impact on how many people survive diagnosis.
So we ran a survey with Yougov to find out how people feel right now about accessing GPs and what symptoms they would delay getting checked out. When we were doing this in April, the message was still very much ‘only use the NHS when essential’ and it hadn’t been clarified what essential actually was. What we found was worrying, and lots of people would sit on key cancer symptoms until after the pandemic was over. These statistics were linked closely enough to the pandemic for journalists to be able to cover them and clearly showed how The Eve Appeal’s work was essential and worth supporting during this time. It also highlighted the importance of Get Lippy to get people to the doctor with their symptoms.
We usually kick off Get Lippy with a launch event and panel discussion which starts a buzz around the campaign, a buzz that is hard to manufacture outside of an in person event. Usually attended by journalists, healthcare professionals, women affected by gynae cancer, ambassadors and influencers, we knew we needed something to replace it. Instead, we launched a series of virtual panel events on our social media channels with a fantastic line up of experts, women affected, ambassadors and relevant people to discuss engaging and important topics. Our aim was making sure May was as lippy and loud at highlighting the important issues around gynae cancer as ever.
When it came to actual fundraising lots of our partners products couldn’t be shipped in, shops were closed, and some companies just couldn’t afford to support a charity campaign right now. We knew that if Get Lippy was going ahead this year, it would understandably be with less brands on board. Luckily one of our lead partners was Tesco and several brands were selling supporting products through their stores, a shop you could bet any amount of money on, would not be closing any time soon. We also went on the hunt for new brands who wanted to join, and secured great new partners who were passionate about the cause and who sold online.
This year was also meant to be the first year that we held a Get Lippy Run, which obviously needed to be rethought. We decided to take the run online and made it virtual, with clear messaging to ensure all of our runners could keep ‘covid safe’. We kept it short, 5km, so that it could be done in gardens or in local areas without people being out too long and we set a day for the run to concentrate its impact and create as much noise as possible. All of this was a big success and a Strava group we set up to connect our runners and create some of the community feel of a normal event saw over 80 people involved in sharing their routes on the day itself. Plus we had over 217 people signed up for the run altogether which is fantastic, especially for a first year and under difficult circumstances.
What we’ll take away from the experience?
Every charity fills a space and helps solve an unmet need, and every charity has been impacted by coronavirus in one way or another. We are all still relevant and running a successful campaign just relies on that, communicating why you are still needed and why you need support to continue to do your great work.
If you enjoyed hearing about Get Lippy why not check out the relaunched CharityComms podcast where the first guest was The Eve Appeal’s very own Karen Hobbs: