Kent Scouts Big Card­board Sleep Out for Porch­light 2018

Exhibited by
Rachel van Hoven, community fundraising manager, Porchlight
March 07, 2019
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SOFII’s view

A classic case of a community and charity working together in perfect harmony, the Kent Scouts Big Cardboard Sleep Out for Porchlight did a great job of highlighting the need beneficiaries had, made excellent use of digital and social media tools and even made it onto local news. It became the organisation’s largest-ever fundraising event and Porchlight saw a remarkable return on investment to help them support local homeless people.


Following several years of small scale partnerships between local scouting groups and Porchlight both parties were highly motivated to create a large-scale and large-impact county-wide event.

Summary / objectives

The event ran as an ‘in aid of’ fundraiser. Kent Scouts is divided into 22 districts and each district would host a Sleep Out for their local members. In the end there were 30 locations on the night, each hosting between 25 and 300 participants. There were a total of 65 volunteer organisers involved with another 300 volunteer adults supervising the event on the night.

Porchlight supported all elements in the planning process of each of the 30 locations with an emphasis on the provision of educational and fundraising resources. A bespoke webpage was created with a resource bank ( for local organisers, case studies and motivational videos (see below).

A training pack with scripts and age appropriate video case studies was created for Explorers (14-18 years old) which enabled them to teach their local Beavers, Cubs and Scouts about homelessness, a valuable development opportunity which taught them to plan, prepare and impart knowledge about a complex and emotive subject to children of different age ranges.

Local organisers received a monthly bulletin from April and a weekly one from September full of tips, stories and updates about the event.


Engagement of the local community 

Aside from engagement with thousands of children and their families, the event provided an opportunity for engagement with many different groups and individuals in the community; Rotary Clubs, Lions Clubs and churches donated to their local scout group’s fundraising total, schools got involved by fundraising or providing a venue and Mayors and Deputy Lieutenants visited their local Sleep Out on the night. A branded sponsorship package was also created for local companies which added £9,800 to the sponsorship total.

Marketing and social media 

A bespoke event logo and overall brand was created in house with all communications emphasising the impact of the funds raised in the local community. A member of staff who used to be a scout as a child and homeless as an adult before being helped and eventually employed by Porchlight recorded several videos encouraging the young people to take part and explaining the importance of the event.

Regular social media posts in the lead up to the event helped it to gain momentum and awareness amongst the general public by showing photos of the planning process (many piles of collected cardboard!), messages of support and appreciation from ex-scout Porchlight staff, short interviews with scouts who were signed up to take part, updates on corporate donations and a special video recorded by CBeeBies’ Mr Maker.

Every location was provided with an event banner and all participants received a sew-on badge. Prizes for each district were donated by Cotswold Outdoors.

There was a huge amount of social media coverage with 180 posts, photos and videos shared and liked over 4,000 times. The event was covered twice on the ITV Meridian news and picked up by local papers and radio stations.

Feedback was overwhelmingly positive - from Porchlight’s own service users to parents, organisers and not least the young people themselves as you can see in the videos below.


The 'in aid of' format of the event, use of volunteers, peer-to-peer education sessions and corporate sponsorship kept the expenditure for the charity to a minimum at £1,760 (excl staff time) – with a total raised of £71,500, the return on investment is 1:40

This was the largest fundraising event that has ever been organised for Porchlight, both in terms of funds raised and in scale of participation.

Kent Scouts senior management has indicated that they have not seen this level of engagement since the 100 year celebration of the national scouting movement 10 years ago.

Many new relationships with varied audiences have resulted from the event and will continue to support the work of the charity in the future. The event raised awareness of the Sponsored Sleep Out, a successful ‘in aid of’ fundraising product with a high ROI which is suitable for a wide range of Corporate and Community Fundraising audiences.

We now have a complete pilot for a mass event which we can use to promote the concept to other prospective mass audiences such as Kent Girl Guiding and Kent Army Cadets.

We have received many anecdotes from parents, teachers and leaders whose participating young people demonstrated a concern for vulnerable and homeless people as a result of taking part in the event. For example a boy who indicated to want to work with the homeless when he grows up and a girl who told a homeless girl she met on the train about Porchlight and encouraged her to get in touch with us. These outcomes are hard to measure but as an organisation which aims to “change attitudes” it is a relevant exercise in educating the next generation of employers, landlords and decision makers.

Porchlight is a charity that supports homeless people in Kent, England.
In 2018, they supported over 5000 homeless and vulnerable people across the county of Kent.