Meeting parents while out collecting donations is a reminder of just how important charity work is, says Ali Kerr
I don’t think there are many jobs that require you to attend a special Bafta screening of Muppets Most Wanted dressed as a frog! However, that is what I recently found myself doing. Why? I am part of the fundraising team for Children’s Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS) and dressing up as a cartoon character is just one of the various tasks I can find myself doing on a daily basis.
We support hundreds of fundraising events – from the fun and crazy to the unique and personal – around Scotland every year. Quite simply, without these kind of events – and the generous giving of the public in so many different ways – we would not be able to provide the essential care and support that the families who use CHAS rely on.
So, as we celebrate Children’s Hospice Week and its theme of “We Care 24/7”, it’s fitting that I share an insight in the wonderful and rewarding world of fundraising at CHAS.
Picture the scene: it’s a typical working day; the alarm’s gone off. All over Scotland our fundraisers and volunteers are poised to help raise the £25,000 a day needed to run CHAS care services. So it’s both eyes open, out of bed and ready, steady, go!
First of all, it’s into the car. (Fundraising covered 120,000 miles last year. Enough to get halfway to the moon.) First stop is to collect a cheque from one of the hundreds of companies and business that support us. They have a nice big cheque and camera at the ready, so I fling on my jacket for the photocall. The lovely chief executive hands me three collecting cans full of money that they filled during a bake sale.
Back in the car – and after posting the cheque photos on Facebook and answering some e-mails, I make a quick call to one of our amazing volunteers and ask if I could possibly drop off three cans for them to count and bank by the end of the day? Of course, all our volunteers are amazing so they say … yes!
I drop off the money, make some calls to the rest of the team to make sure everyone’s on track, and then slip on a CHAS T-shirt before heading to a local school to talk to an assembly and collect their donation from sports day.
Afterwards the headteacher asks me if she can add gift aid to their donation and I explain that unfortunately we can only gift aid certain donations. She explains that one of their pupils uses Rachel House, one of our hospices, and writes me an additional personal cheque to be gift aided. I leave, once again astounded at people’s generosity.
I look at my watch. Aaarrgh! Time is ticking, but I think maybe I could take some time out to have some lunch.
As I get to the gate a mum approaches me, having recognised the CHAS logo, and explains that her family has just been at the Remembering Day at Robin House. I stop. She tells me that without CHAS and the care that her daughter received and the support her whole family continues to access, she would be lost. Lost at sea she says. She has never met me before, but hearing that I work for CHAS, she hugs me before I leave. She leaves me humbled and very much reminded of why we do what we do.
As I have lunch, I realise that this mum who I have just met has missed more meals and sleep than I can possibly know. And so I’m off. There’s three hours until the bank closes and there are families to fundraise for.
More fundraising calls and e-mails are made and received and eventually I find myself filling bank bags and sticking down pay-in slips.
Across the country, staff and volunteers have worked to get valuable funds to their own local bank. The working day is over and it’s time to stop briefly and remember that not only is tomorrow another day, but somewhere, not very far away, a CHAS family is just starting another nightshift in their own home caring for their child. For that reason, every day is a fundraising day.
• Ali Kerr is a regional fundraising manager with Children’s Hospice Association Scotland www.chas.org.uk