Iain McAndrew: Campaign aims to take CHAS’ fundraising to ever greater heights

CHAS' Director of Development and Communications, Iain McAndrew and his guide dog, Gino.
CHAS' Director of Development and Communications, Iain McAndrew and his guide dog, Gino.
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Back in May I met up with social researcher, Ian Scott who has been supporting CHAS in the development of our new look and communications, for a catch-up.

I was proud and a little over-eager to share copies of our new strategic plan, Reaching Every Family in Scotland, and our new campaign, Keep The Joy Alive with its central CHAS Alphabet designed by the children we care for. The campaign aims to take CHAS’ fundraising to a new level. “It looks great” he commented and asked “when is it being launched given the board only signed off the new organisational direction on 29 March?”

“This week.”

His next question was a simple one:

“You joined CHAS in August 2016. You completed a creative workshop in November. I helped facilitate focus groups in January. Your creative agency, Different Kettle, presented your new look for approval to the board in March. And, here we are 31 May and you’re now Children’s Hospices Across Scotland… You’re a very different CHAS and you’ve launched a major fundraising campaign… How did you manage that level of transformation in the time?”

Ian’s question made me stop and consider exactly how far we’d come.

It’s fundamentally down to having a great team of people working across CHAS that share the same goal – to provide the very best care and support for our families. However, the journey really began in 2015 when CHAS published the ChiSP report, a ground-breaking study, which for the first time gave a full picture of the numbers of babies, children and young people living in Scotland who need palliative care. It told us that three children die every week in Scotland from a life-shortening condition, and that we’re currently only reaching one. With that knowledge, our ambition was quickly, starkly and exceptionally clear. We need to reach them all.

This, I feel, nails the first of three key factors that took us to the launch of Keep The Joy Alive.

Focus. Throughout CHAS there was a clarity of purpose and a focus on bringing about the changes needed to realise our ambition.

Ambition. We set an aggressive timeline – ambitious yet achievable. Missing a deadline was never an option and moving on dates wasn’t ever discussed. To paraphrase one of our founders, ‘we understood what needed to be done, accepted the challenge and simply got on with it’. The pace simply accelerated when it needed to. We pushed hard, paused, reflected, regrouped, took decisions and then pushed on again. With a clear articulation of our purpose – our ‘why’, the ‘what we must do’ had never been clearer. Although, I’ll not deny in this process there were many unclear moments, but we gained clarity through focusing on our purpose – that CHAS must reach every family in Scotland that needs us.

Momentum. The approach we took to define our purpose – our ‘why’, was accomplished by working in partnership with the children and families that we care for. We gathered their stories and experiences, and shared and told them in their own words. These stories are at the heart of Keep The Joy Alive. This level of grass-roots engagement not only guided our understanding of why we make a difference, it helped inform how we will reach more families. It created interest in and excitement around the strategy and campaign. Why? Because we listened to and involved our supporters, our staff, volunteers and families and they saw in what was created, a charity that had captured the very essence of what they felt about and expected from CHAS.

We were obviously nervous at unveiling such a major new campaign. So to hear comments such as “that’s what we expect from CHAS” from our supporters, and care staff proudly say “I’m a part of that” is an awesome outcome.

We got to this point by listening to the stories of our staff, volunteers and most importantly our families. There is a unique story behind each and every one of the beautifully created letters in the new CHAS Alphabet. It will be these powerful stories that we hope will inspire people to donate the funds that CHAS so desperately needs to reach every family in Scotland that needs us.

CHAS launched its Keep The Joy Alive campaign at the end of May, and we are delighted at how it is being embraced by our supporters and the public. We’re encouraging people to show their support by using the CHAS Alphabet to spell out their name. Our families, volunteers, supporters, MSP’s, SNP’s and celebrity ambassadors have completed nametags in their hundreds, proudly pledging their support.

Keep The Joy Alive is the very essence of what makes and will always make CHAS… CHAS. That will never change.

To help keep the joy alive for families in Scotland going through the most difficult time imaginable, visit: keepthejoyalive.org.uk

Iain McAndrew, Director of Development and Communications, Children’s Hospices Across Scotland (CHAS)