We spoke to Kate who shared with us her fundraising efforts, in memory of her brother, Robert.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and the fundraising challenge that you took part in?
Firstly, let me start by saying Hi, I’m Kate and I live on the Cambridgeshire/Northamptonshire border with my husband James and two boys, Digby and Wilbur. Back in July 2014, I lost my brother, Robert to suicide when he was only 29 years old.
In September 2015 I embarked on my very first fundraising challenge. I wanted to keep my brother’s memory alive, along with raising money and awareness of the charity, PAPYRUS. Robert was a farmer, farming on our 100-year-old arable farm, which gave me the inspiration of organising and hosting my very own Harvest Ball. To date, I have arranged three balls with the fourth one in the planning stages to take place in September 2024.
What inspired you to want to fundraise? / and why did you choose this specific event?
Robert loved to socialise as well as dance, we both attended Harper Adams University where we took part in many a ball and so, with this in mind, the Harvest Ball was created. To date I have raised around £43,000 for PAPYRUS.
What fundraising strategies or tactics did you find most effective in reaching your goals?
I found that a few different tactics worked, I am always open and honest about why I am hosting the event, and I speak to people about it where I can, I also like to get others involved. This really opens up amazing opportunities and people have always been king enough to have helped me and donated items to ensure the events can take place.
Were there any unique approaches you took that worked particularly well for your campaign?
Not that I can think of. I genuinely believe that people buy into myself and my story, and my goals. Whether this be because they too have been affected by suicide, or because they also knew Robert personally. The balls are always a huge success because of this, it then inspires me to carry on and plan the next event.
What information did you find was useful to include on your fundraising page?
I didn’t actually use a fundraising page, to be honest. However, I did use facts and figures that were supplied to me by the PAPYRUS fundraising team, I had these printed into booklets that I then placed on the tables at the ball. Using a fundraising page could be really beneficial, this is something that I will ask the team about. People will then be able to make donations online or via a QR code which could be handy for a lot of people.
Did you find people engaged and donated, if not, how did you challenge this?
I always find that people are eager to donate money regardless of whether they actually attended the ball or not. This is something that means a lot to me, it shows that the community is behind me and want to support the cause.
How did you ensure you reached your fundraising target?
So, for my first ball, I didn’t actually have a fundraising target, I just wanted to cover my costs, remember my brother and raise importance of the all-important topic, suicide. Although, to date, I have raised around £43,000 for PAPYRUS, this is something that I am immensely proud of.
How did you go about building a network of supporters for your fundraising efforts?
Building a network of supporters is something that I think is really important, as I can then ensure that people are interested in the Harvest Ball each year. I find that talking to people about the event, engaging on social media platforms and just networking in general are all things that really help. I like to keep my contacts updated with my progress on the events, whether this be in the planning stages or after the event has taken place. Once they have heard and seen it’s success, this then ensures they are interested and ready to support my next event.
Fundraising can be tough at times; how did you ensure you looked after yourself throughout all your hard work/what self-care elements were included?
I like to do little and often, I believe that this really helped me keep on top of things. I had constant communication with my friends and got reassurance from them, which was always lovely and to really unwind, I enjoyed going to get my nails done and going on plenty of dog walks. This helped me to switch off and relax so that I wasn’t taking on too much.
Challenges and obstacles
Fundraising often comes with its share of challenges. Can you share some of the obstacles you faced during your fundraising journey?
I faced many challenges, organising and hosting a ball is big, but I knew it was going to be such a great achievement. There were occasions where some of my family believed I wasn’t doing the right thing, or they perhaps didn’t understand why I wanted to organise the ball. However, my husband was super supportive, but admittedly, when I was in the process of organising ball number one, he had his reservations in wanting to protect me, thinking I may not be ready and worried I was taking on too much with having a 9-month-old baby at the time.
How did you overcome these challenges, both in terms of fundraising and personal motivation?
This is quite hard to explain, but because of my character, and who I am as a person, when I believe in something and want to do it, I’ll do it. I did have to tell myself that they can have their opinions and we don’t have to agree on everything. I knew I wanted to host and plan the ball and so I had to put these thoughts to the back of my mind.
Did you enjoy your event, and would you recommend it to other potential fundraisers?
I most definitely enjoyed my fundraising events, all of my harvest balls have been so fulfilling and were, and still are, an incredible way to remember Robert. I would highly recommend organising a ball or fundraising event to anyone. It really enables you to feel like you are doing something good and to have raised the amount of money that I have for PAPYRUS is incredible.
I get lots of positive feedback from the balls and seeing the support from people who attend and seeing them enjoy themselves on the night gives me a real sense of fulfilment. But more importantly, knowing that the money raised would go to helping prevent someone doing what my brother did, and stop families going through what we go through every day is something that I will forever feel proud of. It is what the balls are all about.
What were some of the most memorable moments or milestones during your fundraising journey or event?
There have been many memorable moments throughout all of my events. The first had to be having my brother’s friends attend the three balls’. I was also lucky enough to have the PAPYRUS Chief Executive, Ged Flynn attend my first ball where he gave a speech about the charity. People are always asking me if there will be another ball next year, and the simple answer is, yes!
The money that I raise in Robert’s memory will always be my biggest achievement and knowing this is going towards supporting individuals who contact the PAPYRUS helpline, HOPELINE247 makes it all worthwhile.
Advice for prospective fundraisers/closing thoughts:
What advice would you give to individuals who are considering fundraising for PAPYRUS but may be hesitant to do so?
My advice would be, do it! The stress is worth it.
Are there any specific steps or strategies you would recommend for someone just beginning their fundraising journey? If yes, can you elaborate?
I would say, definitely get some advice before planning your event, speak to the fundraising team at PAPYRUS to pick their brains and get some ideas from them. Speak to different people, friends, family, colleagues to see what ideas they have and just networking in general I find really helps. Make a plan, and try and stick to it.
Would you take part in any fundraising in the future? / Do you have any future plans or ideas for continuing your support of PAPYRUS or other charitable causes?
Yes, I am in the process of planning my fourth ball where I am hoping that it doubles in size from 200 to 400 attendees. I will be doing this again, in aid of PAPYRUS and maybe another local mental health charity.