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What can fundraisers learn from Captain Tom Moore?

This week, amidst the coronavirus horror, one man’s fundraising story has truly captured the hearts and minds of the British people.

At the ripe age of 99 years old, Captain Tom Moore set himself the challenge of completing 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday and raising £1000 for the NHS. Today, Tom not only completed his challenge – he also raised over £15 million for our national health service. Whilst there may be complexities around the cause, this astounding achievement and heartwarming story can teach us lots about fundraising during this unprecedented time.

When so many charities are struggling with a loss of income, it makes sense to return to the fundamentals of fundraising and keep these front-of-mind when we’re developing campaigns during the pandemic. Here’s a closer look at Tom’s wonderful campaign, and how it reflects classic fundraising principles.

Emotional storytelling and undeniable need

Forgive me for being a weepy copywriter, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who teared up whilst watching Captain Moore stoically push his walking frame over his homemade finishing line, to the salute of a socially-distanced guard of honour.

Whilst there’s been a lot of complex debate in the sector about how to depict ‘need’ in campaigns, we cannot deny the fact that fundraising is about engaging hearts and evoking strong feelings. Emotion is utterly integral to successful fundraising.

The character of Captain Moore cuts straight to the heart of the British public. In his proudly decorated military uniform, Moore becomes a personification of resilience and spirit, doing everything he can using just the means at hand to raise money for a vital cause. He also reminds us of our grandparents and makes us acutely aware of the real people we are trying to protect, and everything they stand for as a generation.

Urgency and clarity of message

From experience, we know that clearly set and time-critical targets can really bolster a campaign’s fundraising potential. As the positive outcomes of charitable giving are often intangible for the donor, it’s really important to be clear about your specific aims, and why you need the money to achieve them right now.

Captain Moore’s ask for sponsorship for doing 100 laps by his 100thbirthday, with all proceeds going to the NHS, is perfect in its clarity of message and goal. Memorable and uncomplicated, it passes the ‘get it at a glance’ test that features in many successful cash-giving fundraising campaigns.

A feel-good factor

There’s a purity to Captain Moore’s story that means that donating to his campaign gives individuals a sense of pride by helping him achieve his goals. Perhaps more powerfully than anything else, he gives us hope. We want to share his story, and support him on his mission, because he reminds us so much of all that is good in this world.

In donating to charity, we are choosing to support the changes in the world that we want to see. We can strengthen our fundraising campaigns by acknowledging that this ‘feel-good factor’ is a key motivation for many to give, and infusing messages of hope into those of need.

So, when you’re planning your fundraising campaigns, please don’t neglect the heart. Give your audiences something to care about, and something to rally behind. Don’t shy away from the injustice of the situation, or the vulnerability of your beneficiaries. We all have so much to lose, and so much to protect. It’s time to make your audiences care as much about your cause as you do.

To donate to Captain Tom’s campaign, you can visit his JustGiving page here.

About 11 London

11 London is an advertising and communications agency, based in West London. We work in the areas of health and humanity - with organisations, brands or products that improve or prolong life. To learn more about 11 London, please contact:


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