2020: A remarkable year by any measure
There are almost not enough cliches left to sum up 2020. In this, my end of year wrap-up, I wanted to share with you some of the remarkable stories from our customers and also where we are as a company.
2020 started with encouraging growth on our DonateMySchool platform. Our brand and reputation were building in a healthy and really positive direction with schools around the country. We were seeing the kinds of campaigns you would expect, to buy playground equipment, refresh dining halls and build new STEM labs.
The team here loved getting videos of children thanking their donators for their generosity. We had ambitious plans to help even more schools get the most out of digital fundraising.
Like so many in this country, the March lockdown took us by surprise. What was immediately noticeable is how the types of campaigns began to shift from long-term projects to more immediate priorities. Suddenly, we were hosting campaigns to raise money for laptops to enable students to take lessons at home. What moved me most were the urgent fundraises to pay for counsellors and support dogs to help children that, for the first time in their lives, faced not only deep uncertainty about their futures, but also total isolation from their peer groups.
The biggest new development for us as a company, however, came quickly after that. We started to be bombarded by requests to make our DonateMySchool platform available to other kinds of organisations. We’d planned to launch a platform for a wider range of community organisations next year, but the volume of requests and the urgent needs presented to us inspired us to bring our plans forward.
In April, InvestMyCommunity was launched. From being a dedicated schools-only platform, overnight we started to sign up places of worship and some sports clubs that were looking at crowdfunding as a way of offsetting some of the dramatic losses they’ve faced during the pandemic.
In July, we introduced our “Donator Pays the Fee” option. There’s always a debate about platforms like ours and the fees we charge. In reality, our fees are amongst the lowest in our industry, despite the fact that we support our fundraising champions with a whole host of additional support services. Nevertheless, we understand that campaigns want to maximise the money they raise. While we need to cover our costs, “Donator Pays the Fee” does exactly what it suggests: we offer donators the option to pay our fees so that campaigns see the full value of their donations. This service is one of many reasons why all kinds of community organisations are making us their first choice for fundraising.
Once the initial effects of the pandemic had settled, my team were able to take a fresh look at InvestMyCommunity and in October, we relaunched the platform, with a new look and feel and new features for promoting and sharing our customers’ fundraising campaigns. But that’s just the start. Next year, 2021 is set to be a positive year for our customers and our company. We plan to launch a whole host of new services designed to help our campaigns be even more successful. I for one can’t wait.
I am proud of what the team achieved in those months and personally, I love coming to work every day knowing that we are making a difference in our local communities in these tough times. We can’t solve every problem; many are just too big to even process, but we do have an impact and I’m excited to see that impact grow in the days, months and weeks ahead.
Can I take this opportunity to wish you all the best for the festive season, however you are able to spend it.
Chief Executive Officer