Fundraising Tips & Mental Illness

This past year (from September 2017) I have been fundraising for Meningitis Research Foundation with the aim to make around £2600 in sponsorship and raised money. I will be climbing Kilimanjaro for them in September (2018). On paper this seemed originally very manageable – how many cake sales makes £2600? I thought. Not that many right?


Cake sales definitely do make some money, especially if you have some generous donors attending. But with an average cake sale getting between £20-50 if you’re lucky , that’s 52 of them for my goal of £2600!

So what else can you do to fundraise?

Bucket shakes are sometimes a good option, especially if you have a costume or charity top so that you can be seen and are able to be in a busy area. Some of my bucket shakes in busy areas earned around £100!

Less busy areas however are far less likely to earn you as much, and leave you with far less incentive to stay there for a long period of time. My worst bucket shake got me about £4.00, which after a long, cold day was particularly demotivating. (do also be aware that in most places you need a permit to bucket shake, and shaking your bucket is now illegal in the UK!)

Ebaying/Depoping has also been a good option for me, or even doing a physical table top sale. You do need to be aware of any seller’s fees, either in the form of a table fee or fees from Paypal, Depop and Ebay once an item has sold.

Unless you have some super designer clothes or cool furniture, it’s unlikely that this method of fundraising is going to earn you really big money. However I’ve managed to make around £80 with very minimal effort just on Ebay, so I wouldn’t automatically disregard this as a fundraising method.

It’s also handy to be aware of different postage options – often you can pay for a Large Letter in the UK rather than a whole parcel – have a look online or in your post office before paying too much!

Bag packing or supermarket collecting is also a great fundraising option, and likely to bring in more substantial money, especially if a few of you are doing it together!

Something to consider however is asking supermarkets as early as possible – I was rejected by a few who had already been booked up for the entire year by March, and some took multiple letters and emails to even consider my requests

Asking shops to put collection tins on their counter is also a good way to make some loose change – it won’t bring in anything big, but a couple of pounds is always helpful if you have the time to go around a few shops!

Corporate Sponsorship can also bring in substantial money if you are successful. I applied to the Blakemore Foundation in the UK and got given a cheque for £50 – not huge in the grand scheme of things but very little effort to write an email and far more than some of my bucket shakes were bringing in!

Friends and Family! Either helping to fundraise by giving their time, donating unwanted things to your carboot sales or giving money themselves, friends and family can be an invaluable resource to use while fundraising.

Websites giving cashback, or sites like easyfundraising are also really easy, passive ways to fundraise. They definitely don’t bring in lots of money, but combined with other fundraising I’ve found them really useful to keep money coming in!

A big event! Or a few semi-big events! Organising something like a pub quiz, bingo night or similar proves really effective in fundraising, especially if people are also spending money on a raffle, food, and alcohol while there. I didn’t do anything quite this big, but one church event brought in a couple of hundred just as there were so many people in one place donating!

Insights about how fundraising has impacted my mental health:

When signing up to fundraise I initially felt excitement, happiness that I was embracing my goal to give more to others, and confident I could make the amount set.

However barely a week later I felt overwhelmed, stressed that I wouldn’t be able to reach the target, and anxious that I wasn’t confident enough to do things like bucket shakes or talking to supermarket staff about bag packs.

Being diagnosed with anxiety & depression, I knew that fundraising would be perhaps more of a challenge than it might seem, especially on days where my physical symptoms of tiredness, heart palpitations and so on were particularly bad. I soon learnt that having a panic attack at a busy bucket shake doesn’t make you seem all that approachable, especially if half of it is spent crying in the nearest loos!

While this feeling of stress about my fundraising goal did continue throughout my fundraising, I have learned a few ways that were personally helpful in minimising any anxiety I might experience, and helping me on days where tiredness from depression was overwhelming.

  • More passive ways of fundraising such as Ebaying were useful when interaction with other people appeared stressful, and as they are online, can be done at any time of the day or night. This reduced some of my guilt about potentially missing bucket shakes due to anxiety or tiredness, as I was able to fundraise even in my own bed :))
    • This is similar to cashback sites and easyfundraising too. While these more passive methods of fundraising don’t bring in as much money in my experience, they were particularly useful for me when trying to keep up fundraising momentum yet also having to look after my mental health.
  • Friends and family are super useful. It wasn’t until near the end of my fundraising that I actually realised how much using the friends and family I have could have made my experience so much easier. Doing something in a group often makes it far less stressful for me, and having others there at cake sales and bucket shakes, even if only for some of the time, really encouraged me and made me feel more confident in myself.
    • Trying to raise money on my own for the majority of the time wasn’t half as effective as when with others, so I would really recommend even a few events with others there as support and extra help.
  • Keeping well-rested before events like bucket shakes was also something I discovered was a good idea! It might sound super obvious, but I really wasn’t aware of how cold you can get in winter standing outside with a bucket, so investing in a thermal and getting some sleep made a lot of difference!

Hopefully some of this has been helpful or interesting,

Charlotte x

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