Mark Beaumont, the man who cycled Around the World in 80 Days, came up with the idea of a charity campaign based on a day in the life of his record-breaking ride – from home during lockdown – on April 19.
By May 14, Mark and hundreds of other cyclists and rowers across the UK had raised more than £231, 000 for NHS Charities Together by donating miles on their indoor bikes or rowers every Thursday for four consecutive Thursdays.
We worked on the campaign to help Mark make his ambitious idea a reality and raise an incredible amount of money for a very worthwhile cause. Here’s what we learned from him:
Just do it
If you have an idea, you could tweak it and tweak it forever. You’re more likely to lose momentum than make it perfect. If Mark had waited instead of capitalising on the initial enthusiasm of a group of hardy cyclists when he originally mooted the idea, the event may not have had the same impact.
Create a unique selling point
There are so many charity campaigns out there, what makes yours different? With World in a Day, Mark gave other riders the chance to ride with a world record breaker and do something which very few others would ever get the chance to do – walk a mile (or cycle 240 miles) in their shoes.
Don’t be afraid to ask for favours
People can only say no. Mark was able to tap into an impressive list of athletes and adventurers who generously donated their time by participating on the weekly Zoom call for entrants with advice, insight and encouragement. This helped to make the event extra special and created a further driver for participants to sign-up. Then by calling on John Davidson, he tapped into an entirely new network and rallied hundreds of rowers to take part.
Build a community
Whether it’s during the global pandemic, when we’re all socially isolated, or in normal times, when lack of connection is a major contributing factor to a rising occurrence of depression, people crave connection. Mark created this in World in a Day with the weekly Zoom call for all participants, which was the highlight of the event for many. Even during the ride’s toughest moments, they could count on support from Mark and hundreds of other riders and rowers to get them through.
Play to your strengths
Originally, the event appealed for riders, rowers and runners. It soon became apparent that the take-up and interest in the event was really only going to be from riders and rowers because of a combination of existing charity campaigns focusing on runners, and the event’s key selling point, that it was for people at home and very few people have treadmills. Rather than try to flog a dead horse, the decision was taken to double down and focus on cultivating the strong cycling and rowing community.
Don’t try and do it all yourself
Mark’s a unique person – you don’t become the fastest person to cycle around the world without an insane amount of drive and determination. But part of the event’s success was bringing on a team he trusted to share the load and add their expertise. We were proud to have been part of that team and lead on the marketing of the campaign, while a website from Ping Creates, video from Morrocco media and graphic design from Jerry Balloch, as well as lots of heavy lifting from Steve Bate and Mel Nicholls, made this a true team effort
Pick a cause which means something to you
This seems obvious, but if you don’t have a story people can buy into, it will become very difficult to rally a fundraising effort around it. NHS Charities Together was chosen for obvious reasons – as people sit at home and feel helpless, this became something they could do to contribute and make a difference to the NHS while protecting it.
Gregor Hollerin is co-founder of Story Shop, a marketing agency which tells stories about organisations people can believe in. As well as being on the board of Hearts + Balls, a rugby charity which has helped support rugby players who suffer life-changing injuries, Gregor has worked on campaigns for Children First, Feedback Madagascar, Poppy Scotland and the Kiltwalk. To find out more about Story Shop visit www.wearestoryshop.com or follow @wearestoryshop on social media.