Advice for Raising Money For ICS

This week I reached my target for my ICS fundraising!

The highly desirable golden starburst…

To take part on a volunteer opportunity with ICS, they ask you to fundraise for the charity you will be working with. They give you a target (usually £800, but its £1500 if your parents have a high income) and some advice on how to go about it.

I was a bit pessimistic and didn’t really think anyone would want to donate to my cause, and I wondered how I would raise money when my friends live far away from me. But I reached my target thanks to loads of support from family and friends. I thought I would share how my fundraising went in case anybody else is feeling daunted by the prospects!

I did three main activities to reach my target.

  1. Sponsorship Challenge
  2. Bake Sale
  3. Craft Sale

I would have had to do more, but thankfully a lot of friends, colleagues, family and family friends were very supportive. I was so surprised by this. These are how each activity went…

1. Sponsorship Challenge

Swimming at Parliament Hill Lido (one of the only pools that is open ALL WINTER)

TOP TIP: Do something you actually, seriously, hate.

ICS set you up a Just Giving page and tell you to start sharing this immediately. But for me, asking friends and family to donate to your page for no reason is cheeky as hell. I know I wouldn’t donate to somebody for no reason! On the other hand, good friends always like to see you suffer, right!?

I decided to do a sponsorship challenge. I considered running a distance but most friends know I do a bit of running anyway…okay, in reality about five times a year I run around my local park and nearly collapse. But when people ask how I exercise I always vaguely reply “running” and give the impression this is a regular commitment. On these grounds, I didn’t think people would sponsor me for a casual jog.

But a lot of people know I hate swimming. Either they’ve seen me eyeing up pools suspiciously, or crying after I went scuba diving, or generally talking about how scared it makes me feel. So I decided to do a swim. Also about three years ago I read a supplement in The Guardian that said outdoor swimming was like, a life-affirming experience that makes you feel like an angel. So I decided to do an outdoor swim.

I expected to raise about £150 from this, but in the end nearly all the money I raised was from the swim. People really bought into the idea, were surprised and impressed I would do it and I think the reason it raised a lot of sponsorship money because this was a genuine challenge to myself. Also, they just couldn’t believe I would swim outdoors in November!

More advice on swimming outdoors: Outdoor Swimming Society

2. Bake Sale

bake sale
(L-R) Whirligig “Catherine Wheel” Cookies, Pumpkin Cookies with Caramalised Pumpkin Seeds, Starburst Firework Gingerbread, Coffee and Walnut Cake, Chocolate “Bonfire” Cupcakes and Rainbow Madeira Cake.

I like to bake so I chose a special day (November 5th) and did a bonfire themed baking sale at work. This was good for me as I work in a big office with a lot of generous people, many of whom have done ICS. Therefore they made generous donations and bought lots of cake. Also, I got to eat a lot of cake. This was a huge bonus. I raised over £70 from this one bake sale!

MY TIP Because it was bonfire night, I could do all the cakes and biscuits as a bonfire theme. I strongly encourage themes. People said a lot of nice things about the themes and I think putting in the effort captures people’s imagination a bit.

3. Craft Sales

I didn’t realise my sponsored swim would be such a success. So I was planning to make most of my money from selling things I made. This is a good idea because the people who donate get something in return, and also you can get money from strangers because they want to buy your stuff.

I made canvas bags and candles. The bags were from old fabric I had in the attic, so the costs were really small. However, this was a very time consuming task as each bag takes an hour or more to complete (I made them en masse which was also super boring). I made the candles in old teacups and glasses from charity shops, which kept costs down, and got the wax from the internet. Making the candles was more expensive than the bags, but it’s a lot quicker to make a lot of them at once.

MY TIP Choose something simple that you can make, which you can sell at a strong profit for around £5-£7. Make your own labels and decorate with ribbons and stuff. Finally, find a place to sell the craft items and ask for a  discount if you are running a stall.

Other advice I’ve picked up

If you are stuck for ideas, here are some successful fundraising tips I heard from other people…

  • If you can manage a bag pack, this is a great money spinner. You can make several hundred pounds in one day. Always wear fancy dress and always try to get some cute kids to help you. The only challenge here is booking a place at a supermarket far enough in advance.
  • If you have a network of friends/family nearby, host an event. I had a great night at my friends Murder Mystery Night. She provided food and entertainment and everyone paid £12. If you feed people they are more than happy to make a big donation because its great value compared to eating out! You could also do a BBQ, cheese and wine nights, mulled wine, harvest festival soup, roast dinner etc etc
  • If you work in an office with lots of people then talk to your managers about running bake sales, tuck shop, raffles etc. Ask people if they can make donations to the raffles too.
  • I was nervous about asking for donations to begin with, buy my colleague encouraged me to use social media. He told me to thank somebody on Facebook as soon as they donated, and make a big fuss of them. My friends told me they thought this was a really good trick and encouraged them to donate, so don’t be shy and do it! It’s a good way to promote and remind people, without just repeatedly posting statuses. Also, I only posted when I had an “update” about the swim, which hopefully made it less annoying.

Don’t worry it’s not too difficult, just get started ASAP, have a plan and go for it.



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