Innovation in Fundraising – A Cause4 Glance at our Favourite Innovations

19 October 2018 | By Cause4 staff






These are the values that we strive to uphold, and this is what we love about the sector in which we operate. At Cause4, we are always on the lookout for the best, most creative ideas that seek to make a difference through innovation and social good, which is why we decided to write a post this month that highlights the organisations, projects and fundraising methods that we think are really making a difference:


Academia meets social enterprise

It’s not hard to find great causes in this world, and one that I’ve recently come across is Oxford University Innovation(OUI). This trailblazing venture has recently developed a ‘spinout’ programme, whereby it creates and launches social enterprises spearheaded by academics. Having already built a pipeline of 25 enterprises, including a cashless homeless donations app Greater Change and V-R emergency instruction platform LIFE, OUI has now created a £550,000 fund to accelerate even more ideas that will make a positive impact!


The rise of contactless donation points

Over the summer, Bristol’s Gromit Unleashed 2 became the first charity arts trail to incorporate contactless donation points. The second sculpture trail from Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal partnered with Creditcall and Payter to boost donations on the annual trail. Over 60 sculptures (with 17 contactless donation points) could be found across the city with a special few designed by high-profile artists.  This unique and innovative campaign engaged families from across Bristol and the surrounding areas, inviting them to follow the playful trail like a treasure hunt. With a total of £1.62 million raised for Bristol Children’s Hospital and St Michael’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, the campaign was great fun and a major success!


Driving stories through technology

Engaging storytelling is often the first thing that will interest your donors to your cause and charity. With technology playing a big part in modern society, it makes sense that digital initiatives can provide creative approaches to reaching new supporters. The Developer Society is a not-for-profit team of developers and campaigners that specialise in using digital technology to create innovative approaches to storytelling and campaign messaging for charities. Focussing on web projects, they aim to make access to technology available to all organisations and groups working to make positive change, regardless of size, budget or location.

One of their case studies is the See Now campaign from the Fred Hollows Foundation, dedicated to ending avoidable blindness. Designed as a smartphone simulator augmenting Google Street View, it allows the participant to experience what being “blind” looks like on their own streets. See Now has enabled millions to experience sight loss first-hand, providing a visual connection between online donors and the issue of preventable blindness.


Stimulating collaboration through visual mapping

Nesta positions itself as ‘The Innovation Foundation’. The charity’s fundamental ambition, therefore, is to use its knowledge, funding and skills to create, support and expand socially impactful innovation across the globe. It’s a bold ambition, but an important one for the sector. One of the ways Nesta does this is through ‘innovation mapping’. This year, Nesta released Creative Nation in collaboration with the Creative Industries Council. The project maps and measures creative innovation across the country, publishing the information not only in a standard report, but also through an interactive visualisation, allowing us to gain a visual picture of how innovation develops spatially around specific creative hubs.

One of the most important findings from this work was the need for regional competitors to start working together, with evidence showing that the growth of creativity and innovation in one location has the potential to greatly benefit its neighbours, help to pull up surrounding local economies and increase funding prospects. Collaboration is fundamental to innovation within fundraising and the charity sector more broadly and initiatives such as Nesta’s Creative Nation, are a great place to start.


‘Please don’t touch – or if you do, donate!’

A common trope that we see in museums and galleries is ‘please do not touch’– a means to preserve the past. Yet how do we preserve the past, without creating innovative ideas to ensure that funds keep coming in to do so?

National Trust for Scotland has come up with an excellent solution to this dilemma. In both Robert Burns’ Birthplace and Fyvie Castle, they have created replicas of key artefacts within – with a twist – where visitors can tap their contactless cards to donate £2 to their preservation.

Each of the doppelganger artefacts – a bust of Robert Burns and a 1766 portrait – have the slogan ‘tap the past to preserve the future’, and include the image of a contactless machine in the hand of the subject; a modern addition to the historical replica. In clever partnership with Bank of Scotland and VISA, these interactive objects ensure donor engagement at a brand-new level. In this case, National Trust Scotland actually doeswant you to touch their displays.


What have you seen recently that you think is brilliant innovation in the charity sector? Please contact us at or tweet us @OfficialCause4

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"The course was informative, enjoyable, covering plenty of ground in just one day without feeling rushed at all. It came at a crucial time in our planning and thinking as a development team and was a very welcome pause for thought. Michelle was a brilliant facilitator and it was a real benefit to hear about her experiences across the sector."

Jane Reynolds, Development Manager, Manchester International Festival

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