From IWITOT 2019: Stand Up 2 Cancer 2018’s hilarious donation rewards menu

Note: this article contains language that some might find offensive. A treat from I Wish I’d Thought Of That (IWITOT) 2019: Andy McSorely of Home Fundraising celebrates an irreverent and hilarious campaign that rewarded donors who gave up their hard-earned money.

Written by
Andy McSorley
Added
March 07, 2019

Stand Up to Cancer’s #SU2CRewards – Donation Rewards Menu

My chosen topic falls firmly into the category of ‘I Wish I'd Thought Of That – but absolutely not for use in my day job’ for reasons that will become obvious.

I’d like to begin with a quote. This quote is the very thing that first made me aware of my chosen topic:

That’s one hell of an attention grabber. I am now very conscious that I am here at this wonderful fundraising event about inspiring and innovative fundraising and I’ve sworn in the first minute and made us all think about Piers Morgan! (Sorry about that).    

This tweet was part of ‘Stand Up 2 Cancer’ (SU2C) 2018.

 SU2C started in the USA in 2008. A cross-network telethon, broadcast to over 170 countries, raising over $100 million for cancer research. 

SU2C has since become a biennial event and the SU2C Brand was adopted by CRUK and Channel 4 in 2012. Each year since there have been lots of SU2C themed TV programmes, online campaigns and four major telethons / events – as I’m sure you are all well aware.

I briefly want to touch on The SU2C brand.

They made a significant departure from CRUK’s central branding, replacing pink and purple with orange, black and red. It looks very different and it sounds very different. The language difference is notable.

Both brand styles talk of ‘beating cancer’. CRUK’s central branding talks of ‘survival rates’ and ‘accelerating progress’.

The SU2C language is to:

‘Raise cancer-smashing cash’.

To ‘pick a fight’.

To ‘take cancer out’

The ‘SU2C’ language choices are combative and aggressive. It raises an important question about the language we choose when fundraising and how far that can be taken.

This leads me to the “#SU2CRewards – Donation Rewards Menu” 

Now, there is not one single person in this room that is not aware of a charity ‘shopping list’

A tangible list of services or equipment that connect the beneficiary’s need to a specific service provision, paid for with a specific donation.

For example: ‘A mosquito net costs £X – this could stop a child dying from malaria. Can you give £X?’

A shopping list works. It’s a brilliant tool. It is clear, relatable and makes simple the potentially complex journey of a donation.

The items paid for benefit the beneficiary of course. The only ‘benefit’ to the donor is the altruism of giving.

The ‘#SU2CRewards – Donation Rewards Menu’ inverts this principle. It does the opposite. It addresses a charitable giving elephant in the room:

‘If I donate … what do I get out of it?’

SU2C, and by extension CRUK, are able to answer that question with one of the most powerful answers imaginable. You get the knowledge that you contributed towards the cure for cancer.

The idea that there is a need for the donor to receive something beyond that is often not considered as the altruistic benefit is ample.

It could be argued that raffles and society lotteries ‘give you something back’ in return for your contribution. But, as brilliant and beneficial as they are, for me that’s the ‘perception of getting something’.

In return for playing you support a cause and you have the chance of getting something in return, but no guarantee.

The ‘#SU2CRewards – Donation Rewards Menu’ goes further. This campaign says: ‘fair enough – in return for your donation here’s what you get. This is what you will get in return for your money. For YOU – the donor.’

It follows in the spirit of ‘Comic Relief’ or ‘Children in Need’. It differs though as we are not contributing as a populace to receive a musical performance from the BBC News team or to support en masse to a pre-determined amount in order for Dawn French to receive a snog from Hugh Grant. These are both wonderful ways to raise LOADS of money - but they are different. 

This is personal.

It’s funny. It’s irreverent and ultra-modern. It’s a charity campaign littered with swear words. It’s donor centric but in a unique way. Even the terms and conditions request of the donor: ‘don’t be an idiot’

It’s bang on brand and it delivers on two key criteria:

  • It delivers HUGE awareness, furthering the brand and cause.
  • It rakes in loads of cash.

The options are well thought out and are cost appropriate:

  • £5 gets you a follow / a rating on your pic / or a compliment to your mum – lovely.
  • £10 – A Poem / a romantic helping hand / or an insult! 

The donor gives £10 and in return gets insulted.

This must be the only fundraising campaign ever derived where insulting a donor is celebrated, advertised, requested and is an income-generating element of the campaign.

And for £50 we arrive where we began - the jewel in the crown: ‘We’ll insult Piers Morgan on Twitter’.


Genius (and - albeit through gritted teeth – I should say ‘fair play Piers’). 

Similar to a shopping list, the bigger donations yield bigger ‘purchases’ all the way up to a ‘training session with [SAS veteran and Tv personality Jason] "Foxy" Fox’ for £1000.

They’ve even thought of an organisational donation to have your business named in every single tweet they put out for an hour – for £500.

So what can we take-away from the ‘#SU2CRewards – Donation Rewards Menu’?

It furthers the discussion on fundraising's need to be disruptive and challenging and how that is a positive.

Language choices are essential to the SU2C brand. This Donation Rewards Menu pushes that envelope further than anywhere else.

It delivers on a key aim of any fundraising campaigns: know your audience.

This campaign recognises that its target audience attributes ‘value’ to a ‘follow’, retweet or rating. 

This campaign acknowledges that social media can be used to insult, further your career and create a romantic relationship. 

It’s a genius use of the platform given that the majority of the offerings are all but free to provide. They have a ‘value’ in the modern world but at no financial cost.

This is event-based, time-specific, impactful fundraising. It needs the infrastructure, support and contribution of an incredible volume of people. It is specific to and in fact couldn’t exist without the Twitter platform or indeed the celebrity involvement.

I wish I’d thought of this because it works. It changes the state of play. It puts the donor experience at the forefront of a campaign in a completely unique way. It could also be a platform for a tonal shift in fundraising language. 

To fight cancer in all its forms could require a combative, aggressive and challenging approach in labs and in hospitals. So what could be more fitting that to fundraise in that same spirit?

And let’s not forget that on a base level, Channel 4 calling Piers Morgan a ‘massive bellend’ is worth £50 of anyone’s money any day of the week. The campaign deserves a ‘doff of the cap’ for that alone.

About the author: Andy McSorley

Andy McSorley

Andy is the former Head of Standards and QC for HOME Fundraising with over a decade’s experience in telephone, street and door-to-door fundraising. A passionate fundraiser since his first professional fundraising call way back in 2006, Andy has since: managed a 150 staff call centre; ran a 2-Step Street team across London; and at HOME supported thousands of D2D fundraisers. Over the years Andy has enjoyed leadership roles in innovative campaign management, training and fundraiser development and delivering high quality fundraising campaigns. Day to day Andy oversaw HOME’s welcome calling programme, site management team, QC department and was HOME’s liaison to the Fundraising Regulator and the Institute of Fundraising. Andy believes in excellent fundraising standards, a strong cultural ethos and the power of a human connection made through F2F conversations. In a spare moment, it’s crosswords, quizzes, footie and trying to keep tabs on his kids!

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