TeamEV has always been passionate about helping the local community and, in particular, homeless charities. Tara and Hattie co-founded Let’s Feed Brum, which is now a registered charity that supplies food, drink, essential supplies and friendship to those living on the streets. Working with cafes, restaurants, street food operators and event venues, Let’s Feed Brum aims to reduce food waste whilst also helping Birmingham’s every-growing homeless community by signposting key services. Added to this, Tara also sits on the management board for iShelter, which runs Birmingham’s only permanent night shelter, Tabor House.
Having supported another fantastic homeless charity, SIFA Fireside, many years ago with some marketing guidance, Tara was delighted to be asked to become a Patron of the charity at the start of lockdown and assist with a campaign to raise £50,000. Based in Digbeth, just a few minutes away from Tabor House, SIFA Fireside supports vulnerable adults across the city, helping to get them off the streets and on the pathway to a happier and safer life, providing basics needs such as food, healthcare and a hot shower.
Like many charities, the Covid-19 pandemic had an immediate effect on SIFA Fireside, as the drop-in centre was forced to close its doors amid Government restrictions. As a double whammy, the charity also saw a significant reduction in donations and financial support, as the city prepared for the turbulent months ahead.
The SIFA Fireside team was keen to act quickly and engaged local supporters, including Alex Claridge (The Wilderness), to help secure the future of the charity. Collectively, the group came up with the concept of the ‘Big Brummie Camp Out’, a city-wide event that would virtually bring people together in lockdown for an enjoyable evening at home, all whilst raising money for the charity.
The Big Brummie Camp Out was launched as the flagship event for SIFA Fireside’s #SIFAsurvives campaign, which aimed to raise £50,000 to help the team at the organisation re-open the doors of the drop-in centre and making any changes necessary due to the effects Covid-19 and social distancing measures.
Our aim was to help SIFA Fireside not only to gain coverage across the media through a range of press releases and interviews, but also to create an activity pack for ‘campers’ to enjoy on the evening, whether they were taking part with their friends, partners or children.
With a virtual project team in place – thanks to the help of Zoom calls and live Googledocs – we set to work on creating a buzz about the event. We announced the Big Brummie Camp Out across regional consumer media, securing print and digital coverage, and also interviews for both Carly Jones, SIFA Fireside’s Chief Executive, and Patron Alex Claridge. With just an eight-week lead-in, timing was tight but we were able to craft a series of stories and angles that helped us have a number of media hits, including announcing celebrity support from comedian, Joe Lycett.
Alongside the PR efforts, we also supported the team with digital marketing. The fundraising element of the Big Brummie Camp Out was a digital download pack for the evening; to sign up, people had to donate a minimum £5 to the charity and, in return, would receive the pack in advance with activities to keep them entertained throughout the night. We fully created and designed the pack, reaching out to some local businesses – including Sarehole Mill and Thinktank – and local chefs, who provided recipes. The content was then all compiled into a SIFA Fireside branded pack, which was sent to participants a few days before the event.
With lockdown in full swing, social media was crucial in helping us spread the message. We set the SIFA Fireside team up on our social media scheduling tool and designed a suite of assets for them to use. This ranged from generic, branded images and Instagram Stories to promote the fundraiser, through to announcing the schedule for the evening; where we had entertainment on the hour, every hour, on the SIFA Fireside Facebook page.
With only eight weeks until the event, it was a tight turnaround but we managed to secure some great regional coverage, including BirminghamLive, Birmingham Mail, the Express & Star, What’s On Live and The Birmingham Press; a collective reach of over 250,000 people. In addition to two interviews on BBC Radio WM and a piece on BBC Midlands Today.
The efforts of the PR and social media saw 519 families sign, raising £10,000 towards the #SIFASurvives campaign. We were also able to help facilitate funding via another client of ours, Heart of England Community Foundation, totalling a further £33,000 towards the cause.
In total, an incredible £54,188 was raised, smashing the #SIFASurvives target. This also prvoided a fantastic platform for the charity to continue looking at public support as it planned its lockdown return, with a callout for PPE donations and key supplies.