11 Jul 2016
by Rachel Suddart
To steal a phrase from William Shakespeare, one of the things I love about my job is the ‘infinite variety’. Different organisations, different events, different approaches – it all keeps me on my toes and enables me to keep on learning, pretty much on a daily basis.
Last weekend I was working at Hospice at Home West Cumbria’s Annual Colour Run, a fantastic fundraising event held at Muncaster Castle. A ‘fun run with a difference’, participants follow a choice of courses through scenic woodland and are showered in a sea of brightly coloured powder paint as they pass a series of checkpoints. Originating in America as a way of promoting happiness and well-being the charity held their very first Colour Run back in 2014 (the first one in Cumbria) and it has gone from strength to strength.
I have been lucky enough to be asked back to support the marketing & fundraising team, three years in a row. It has been an incredible journey, learning from our mistakes, listening to feedback, developing the concept and coming up with solutions to issues and challenges. Ultimately, the goal has been to provide a fantastic experience for the ticket holders whilst raising the maximum amount of money for the charity. Hospice at Home West Cumbria needs to raise over £1million each year in order to provide palliative care to people with life limiting illnesses and give bereavement support to families, free of charge in people’s homes, right across the county.
This year, the Colour Run was the biggest so far. With almost 750 runners and almost the same again in spectators, it’s looking like the charity may have raised almost £40,000 (at the time of writing the final figures had not been released.) In response to feedback, the run was held at a later time this year, the date was brought forward to July (in past years it has been August) and the team added a unique twist in the form of giant inflatables.
Each year, we have poked and tweaked our marketing plan, capitalising on positive results, trying out new methods and utilising the budget in ways that are low risk but high yield. We’ve developed a strong brand, experimented with social media, introduced a series of mini colour runs in local schools and forged partnerships with local businesses and media representatives. Attention to detail has been paramount and the Project Manager has constantly stayed ahead of the game.
From a professional POV it has been a great experience to return to the organisation and see how the event has evolved year on year. It has been fascinating to see how the organisation has continued to meet its strategic aims whilst responding to changes in audience demand, market competition and economic conditions. I’ve enjoyed working with like-minded professionals, sharing ideas and coming up with new ways to engage our audiences. It’s been interesting to see people’s responses and look at ways to use their feedback constructively in order to produce a better product, an opportunity rarely afforded to the transient freelancer.
My Colour Run Call of Duty has also been varied from a personal POV. I have had to overcome my fear of dogs during a photo shoot with huskies, I’ve lent a pair of converse trainers to Roxanne Pallet, watched hundreds of school children hurtle round a playing field in pouring rain and I’ve posed as a Charlie’s Angel in a park. On a more serious note, I’ve met a young boy fighting leukaemia who cheerfully completed the course and raised a whole heap of sponsorship. I’ve also got to work alongside a group of fantastically inspirational people, some employed, some volunteers, all giving their time, enthusiasm and expertise to help raise cash for a worthwhile cause.
If you’ve not experienced a Colour Run before, you should definitely give it a go. Just remember the huge amount of work that will have gone on behind the scenes… oh and stock up on washing powder!
Photography Credit: Ade Gidney