Cork Simon Com­mu­ni­ty: Small-scale pan­dem­ic crowdfunding 

Exhibited by
Emma Doran
February 03, 2022
Medium of Communication
Email, social
Target Audience
Warm donors
Type of Charity
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance
May 2020

SOFII’s view

This case study joins the now long list of fundraising success stories we’ve been able to gather during the pandemic. Cork Simon Community (aka Cork Simon) are a vital charity helping people experiencing homelessness in Ireland’s second city. 

When coronavirus hit, they were forced to launch an emergency appeal to fund personal protective equipment (PPE) for their staff and volunteers. By keeping supporters in mind and acting fast, but in a well-prepared fashion, the charity were able to exceed their target and continue supporting people in Cork.


The coronavirus pandemic meant events and other fundraising couldn’t go ahead – leaving some usual income streams on indefinite pause. Meanwhile, Cork Simon were also facing unforeseen costs – like the need for PPE for staff and volunteers – to keep everyone who needed their services as safe as possible.

So they needed to raise funds fast.

An online crowdfunding campaign was the perfect offer: it was urgent, time-sensitive, tangible, and could be set up quickly.

But Cork Simon’s usual supporter base were not used to urgent email or social fundraising… and there was a direct mail appeal landing around the same time.   

Summary / objectives

The target was to raise €20,000 to fund PPE for staff, volunteers, and service users - to keep everyone safe. 

Creator / originator

Ask Direct and Cork Simon Community

Special characteristics

We worked on a four-step multi-channel plan:

  1. Preparation: Facebook ad testing of images and ask amounts, giving us a steer for the most effective message for the full launch. Cork Simon also phoned or emailed a select number of loyal donors to give them an inside track on the campaign.
  2. Soft Launch: Email to warm support base.
  3. Public Launch: Facebook ads (paid and organic), as well as key social influencers contacted to promote the campaign.
  4. Frequent emails during the campaign: These were personalised to the supporter’s type and level of support, and included behind-the-scenes update videos from Cork Simon staff and volunteers.


This campaign was small-scale but had a big impact. It gave an opportunity for the donor to help a cause they care about – at a time that they especially needed help. It offered supporters a chance to feel they were taking positive action during a time of severe uncertainty.


The final total was more than €28,000 raised in just over three weeks.

Email engagement remained strong throughout, with above-average open rates and CTR (click-through rate). One-third of the total was donated offline, showing the power and importance of integrating campaigns cross-channel.

Influence / impact

For Cork Simon, it gives them the confidence to know that in case of future urgent need, their supporters are ready to help on an even bigger scale. 

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Cork Simon are a vital provider of support for people facing housing issues in Ireland’s second-largest city.
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This campaign helped Cork Simon raise vital funds to provide PPE for staff and volunteers.
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The crowdfunder raised €28,000, exceeding the initial target of €20,000.
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The charity and Ask Direct, their agency, tested the campaign thoroughly before launching the crowdfunder.