Scotty’s Little Soldiers Q&A: Good Thyngs at the Scotty’s Ball
Author: Harry Pearce
Scotty’s Little Soldiers is a charity that supports hundreds of children and young people who have experienced the death of a parent who served with the British Forces. Scotty’s Ball is a particularly important fundraising event for the charity, and at their most recent Ball they utilised Good Thyngs to process digital donations and engage supporters with competitions. Sophie Berry who works in the supporter team and is responsible for the charity’s digital donations initiatives, told us about the experience.
Good Thyngs makes a difference
- An additional £3,355 raised to support bereaved children of servicepeople
- Newfound confidence in digital fundraising from guests
- £1700 raised through the Scotty’s Ball raffle
- £1132 raised through Pass the Parcel
Q: How much virtual or digital fundraising did you do before the pandemic?
Prior to the pandemic, Scotty’s had already begun to adopt a digital approach. This was largely due to the charity taking stock of how we were going to achieve their goal of supporting 1000+ bereaved British Forces children annually by 2030 and recognising the way we were operating on the supporter side was not conducive to achieving that goal. We had already started working with Good Thyngs and were making use of QR codes as part of our digital offering.
Q: What was the most important factor for you when deciding the Good Thyngs platform was right for your campaign?
When looking into this, we wanted a reliable and easy to use system that would enable us to set up new QR codes, track interaction usage and importantly, monitor income. The Good Thyngs platform seemed to tick all of those boxes.
Q: Describe Scotty’s Ball and how you used the fundraising platform
The Scotty’s Ball is the only fundraising event we organise each year, welcoming around 300 guests and it follows a similar format to many others with the odd fundraising game, raffle, silent and live auctions.
Many of our guests are veterans, currently serving or have a connection to the British Forces. They are an incredibly passionate group of people who are all committed to ensuring the children of our British Forces heroes have access to the very best support and are able to maintain their connection to the military community.
In keeping with our digital approach to income generation, we wanted to test if we could run a fully digital event in terms of monetary transactions. We knew the Good Thyngs platform had the capability to enable us to do that, so decided to jump right in!
Wherever payment was required, we had a QR code. With so many people used to scanning QR codes, mainly due to the NHS track and trace scheme, it provided us with the perfect opportunity to give this a trial run.
Q: How could supporters donate without cash?
If people didn’t have cash, there was a QR code available so on the surface it was pretty simple…more on that later! With Good Thyngs we raised an additional £3,355 to support bereaved children of servicepeople.
Q: How did you educate your team and donors on the mobile payment technology?
We’d already told our guests that we were aiming to go digital on the evening and would be utilising QR codes. With so many people used to scanning QR codes regularly, we were confident that the majority would be happy to point their smart device at the code and follow the steps.
We did have a fun little QR code on a letter left in the bedrooms of guests who were staying at the hotel. Once scanned, it revealed a special video which acted as a warmup to the QR scanning and was a fun addition to the event.
Q: Can you tell us more about the bottle sales using QR codes?
We had been donated some branded glass bottles that we thought would be something our supporters might like to take home. We prepared some parcel tags that neatly hung around the neck of the bottle and each one had the same QR code on. Once scanned, it would take people to a screen that was branded up and specific to that code.
The suggested amounts were in multiples of £5, enabling guests to choose the amount they wished to donate for one bottle or more. The success message was also relevant to the purpose of the code rather than saying anything generic like ‘Thank you for your support.’
Q: How did the Pass the Parcel and Buy Your Hero a Pint fundraisers work?
Our pass the parcel game is probably what you’d expect, make a donation to play. Buy Your Hero a Pint enabled guests to purchase a virtual pint in memory of British Forces personnel who have died.
Relevant QR codes were printed in the event programme and our team of volunteer table hosts also had printed versions available for guests to scan to ensure there were no blockages to interactions. Suggested donation amounts were included on the follow up screen together with branding for the initiative, so guests had confidence they had landed in the right place.
The raffle worked in much the same way as Pass the Parcel and Buy Your Hero a Pint. Prizes were an array of items from vouchers to an Apple watch and everything else in between. The Scotty’s Ball is pretty renowned for its silent auction and raffle haul!
Q: How is Good Thyngs helping you achieve your charity goals?
Scotty’s Little Soldiers wants to make sure it is easy for supporters to raise funds for the charity and help spread awareness. We have found that QR codes are one of the most effective ways of doing this in a digital friendly way. We no longer provide collection pots and bucket, instead we add a bespoke QR code on digital posters that a supporter can use to promote their fundraising whilst also enabling them to take digital donations.
QR codes also feature in supporter information and we’ve recently invested in QR wristbands which are being utilised for our endurance fundraisers.
We needed to work more efficiently and smartly with the small amount of resource that we have. Much less time is being spent counting cash donations; instead, our systems are processing the digital payments made to us, which is a HUGE time saver.
Another benefit is that we are no longer experiencing loss of collection pots and buckets, which is a worry for any charitable organisation. QR codes provide a much more secure way to donate.
Q: How has your team responded to using the platform?
The Scotty’s team love innovation so what’s exciting for us is thinking about how else we can use QR codes. The team members who work with these often think ‘Can we use a QR code for that?!’
A few months ago, our charity founder Nikki Scott was delivering an online presentation to a small group of corporate employees. 10 minutes before the presentation we decided to include a QR code on one of the slides enabling people to donate. It was great to see that this simple action raised over £200 but it was also helpful that we could report the impact to Nikki straight after the presentation. Had we not included a QR code we wouldn’t have received any donations as there was no other mechanism to donate during the virtual presentation.
Q: Do you have any advice for charities thinking about cashless fundraising?
A huge learning for us with the Scotty’s Ball was that you can have all the QR codes in the world but if the tech or signal around you isn’t strong enough or unreliable it can turn the best plan into one of the biggest challenges! With this event, we ended up having to take much more cash than we anticipated. Therefore, a tip would be to always think of a backup plan if you are reliant on a QR code to make something happen in that kind of environment.
For this year’s Scotty’s Ball, we are taking the same digital approach but will have some safeguards in place as well as a dedicated WiFi channel!
Thank you so much for your feedback, Sophie!
Photo credit: Paul Tibbs Photography