Ten charity ideas to make a difference

I greatly admire and respect anyone who works in the charity sector. The greatest rewards in life can come from helping others.

I was invited to join my local charity a few years ago to help local kids and families through the power of football. It's a great cause that helps tens of thousands of people every year. It's called the Foundation of Light and is the registered charity of Sunderland Football Club www.foundationoflight.co.uk.

To date, I've climbed to the top of a stadium and jumped across a river along a zip wire and ran 12 gruelling miles on my birthday, but for me, nothing is more rewarding than coming up with loads of ideas to really help with the long term growth strategy.

If you're in the charity sector, here are some ideas and I would love to hear if you have any other new ideas.


1. I always like to ask myself the question: what do the current supporters of the charity think? What is their perception? and what can I learn from them? So a questionnaire is extremely useful to gather this value data.

Q1. Are you aware of the charity's goal?
Q2. Of the following products and services, which do you think that the charity provides? 
Q3. What types of charities do you donate to?
Q4. How do you normally donate to charity?
Q5. Do you like to get involved in charity events and fundraising activities?
Q6. What would be the best way for the charity to communicate with you?

2. Provide a free public Wi-Fi service and use the initial login page to promote the charity, news, events and donation methods, whilst collecting email addresses with their permission to make contact. This service could be installed and provided in local coffee shops or garden centres.

3. 'Help With Change': The idea is to partner with a local retail business and when their customer pays via debit/credit card, the card terminal asks if they'd like to round up the total to the nearest pound (dollar) and donate the change to the charity. (So £4.79 becomes £5.00 with a £0.21 donation).

Retail Cards

4. Work with local schools and invite them to design a series of birthday, Christmas, greetings cards that could be uploaded and bought online; then create a fun competition and ask parents to vote for their favourites (again, this could be online) and then the winners designs are set as the charities official cards for the year. The best thing about this, is that the hundreds of parents are now aware of all of the kids card designs online and can buy them for themselves throughout the year.

5. Sports star hair cut.... "Cut your hair, not your donation". Create a look-book full of famous sports stars and ask local hair dressers and barbers to take part in the special event, agreeing to cut the hair of youngsters in the style of their favourite star in return for donating a cut (sorry) to the charity.

6. Design new sports kit for local sports club (could be Rugby, Football/Soccer, Basketball). Get a local club involved and ask the public to design the next seasons kit, a competition will be ran and a winner will be picked via the local press. The winning kit will get a % donated to the charity for every sale.

Sports Kits

7. Put a leaflet in all local hotel and B&B rooms, explaining about the charity and asking for a donation. Outside visitors may love the area and want to help out or get involved in some way.

8. Ask local sports clubs (greyhound, speedway, horse racing, cricket, basketball, etc) if they are willing to donate a 'page' in their programme and use it as a spring board to invite supporters to get involved and support their local charity as well as their team.

9. Hold a teenagers music event, get a local cool radio DJ, play mainstream chart music and invite all local schools. The minimal door entry will go to the charity. Aim for 2000 kids. Also charge for pick-n-mix sweets, drinks and glow in the dark products.

10. How about creating some contemporary compressed 'sand' products. Bathroom products such as tooth brush holders, toilet brush holders, soap trays, mirror stands. The products should be very cheap to make, but look very stylish in a modern bathroom.

Getting involved with charities either as a volunteer, board member or supporter is an incredibly rewarding experience and there's nothing better than seeing the people the charity was set up to help benefit from all of the hard work and donations.