Fast forward a couple of weeks, and GIVE400.scot launched on Tuesday to help tackle the rising tide of poverty is this country, encouraging households who feel they can afford it to donate some or all of their £400 Energy Bills Support Scheme sum to charities of their choice, or via Scottish charity the Corra Foundation.
Since being set up in 1985, Corra has delivered more than 16,000 grants totalling almost £200 million to disadvantaged communities. It does this by making small grants to smaller charities and community groups, who in turn pass on funds to families and individuals on low income, with cash or vouchers to cover food, fuel, household items, and clothing.
So, how bad are things on the ground? In October, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation released its annual Poverty in Scotland report, stating that, “Nearly one in five households on low incomes in Scotland have gone hungry and cold this year, even before we enter the winter months.”
Corra Foundation’s CEO Carolyn Sawers puts it like this: “The levels of need and urgent requests for support are shocking and sobering in scale. Families are having to make impossible choices at the moment, they are doing so with dignity, but they need support.”
The collective hope is that the campaign will strike a chord, catch the public imagination, and both individuals and businesses will get behind GIVE400.scot.
In my own experience of charity campaigns, patronage by the corporate sector can be a key driver for success. In the Scottish context, Social Bite, and Street Soccer Scotland are two of the success stories that come to mind.
In December 2016, I was one of three hundred people to participate in Social Bite’s first sleep out, on Charlotte Square in Edinburgh. The meteorological gods were kind that night, the temperature didn’t get too low, and at 7 to 8 centigrade the weather was unseasonably mild for a Scottish winter.
In all honesty, it was not a great hardship that night, although I think everyone went home the next morning with more empathy for homeless people and, in turn, felt more committed to the cause.
Like Social Bite, the support from Scotland plc for Street Soccer Scotland has been tangible whenever I’ve attended one of their events, or helped to publicise them. Both not-for-profit organisations have inspirational leaders, with omnipotence that resonates with stakeholders, including chief executives from the business world.
Celebrity endorsement can be a game-changer for aspiring charities, boosting their brand and profile. Those who attended dinners over the last decade in Edinburgh with the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, George Clooney, or Barack and Michelle Obama, will never forget them.
We would love to get some celebrity endorsement behind GIVE400.scot. We don’t have the time or resources to organise any glitzy dinners, we cannot currently count on any Hollywood A-listers, but the mission itself will hopefully be enough to create a wave of support for those most in need in the months ahead.
Nick Freer is the founding director of corporate communications agency the Freer Consultancy