SOFII history project

Welcome to the SOFII history project. An illustrated journey through fundraising's history with commentary especially for SOFII users.

The Foundling Hospital appeal, 1728-1745

by Tobin Aldrich

Another opportunity to be inspired by fundraisers of the past. Raffles, art gallery events and benefit concerts are common ways to raise money today – but when Thomas Coram was fundraising for the Foundling Hospital in Georgian London he employed all these methods. In fact, some might say he invented them…

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William Quarrier – the most determined fundraiser of all time?

by Simon Burne

Be inspired by the most determined fundraiser of all time. Using an approach not designed for the faint-hearted, William Quarrier went into a room full of wealthy people and walked out with enough money to fund a village for homeless children in Glasgow. But how did he do it? And what can we learn from this fundraising superstar?

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Tank Banks: more sensational fundraising from the First World War

by Aline Reed

Now for something completely different: give a tank to thank your donors. Okay, this is a little cheeky, there aren’t many of us today who can give a tank as a special thank you. But we can create pride and excitement in our donors, just like the Tank Banks back in 1919.

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Once upon a time…Oxfam and Remember Me

by Aline Reed

Aline isn’t too sure if the technology used in this great way to use stories to sell goods in Oxfam shops wasn’t a little too sophisticated. Anybody out there have any further information?

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BBC Television: the 1966 documentary, Cathy Come Home

by SOFII

Cathy Come Home, the powerful story about a young family’s slide into homelessness and poverty was a defining moment in 1960s television. The controversy it created led to public outrage at the state of housing in Britain and to the launch of several charities, including Shelter. Here you will see the deeply moving final scene, presented by Chris Barraclough at last year’s IWITOT.

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Fundraising for the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal

by SOFII

Without the inspiration of Joseph Pulitzer who inspired 120,000 ordinary New Yorkers to donate a huge number of small donations, the 150ft tall Statue of Liberty would not be standing today on New York’s harbour.

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Fundraising in the First World War: fighting the good fight

by Tony Charalambides

Fundraising and charitable volunteering is a rather under-reported component of Britain’s war effort during the First World Ward, says Tony Charalambides, but it had an enormous impact on its outcome.

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How the suffragettes became one of the most successful brands ever

by Aline Reed

You might be surprised to know that one of the most successful branding exercises ever was performed by the first suffragettes in Britain. They were, of course, notorious for their demonstrations of bravery, but also for the splendid ways they raised huge amounts of money to promote equality for women everywhere. One woman was so inspired that she donated £1000 a year – £80,000 in today’s value, to be paid until women were given the vote. You’ll find out lots more here.

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The Absent-Minded Beggar: bigger than Band Aid?

by Aline Reed

The first-ever fundraising song? If you thought Band Aid was the first fundraising song ever, this’ll surprise you. Aline Reed has been digging around in the past and discovered a much earlier version created by a rather illustrious team – Rudyard Kipling and Sir Arthur Sullivan (without Gilbert this time). It’s not exactly rock and roll, but did raise the equivalent today of £25 million.

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Magic moments: The founding of Cripplegate Foundation and North London Cares

by Aline Reed & Ken Burnett

There is a lot going on in this addition to SOFII’s founding magic moments. It has a wonderful ghost story and is a great example of a consistent donor relationship that has lasted over 500 years. And it shows how philanthropy moves on, changes and can help younger organisations do the same. 

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Major contributors to this section

Aline Reed

Aline Reed is a freelance copywriter and creative. She worked for fourteen years at Bluefrog, a London-based agency that specialises in fundraising, where she progressed from copywriter to creative director. She has written fundraising campaigns for all kinds of organisations – charities, museums, galleries and universities. Her work has successfully run internationally in the Netherlands, US, Australia, Ireland as well as the UK. Away from fundraising, she writes book reviews for the Sunday Express and blogs about books and travelling.

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Mark Phillips

Mark Phillips started fundraising for ActionAid UK in the late 1980s and later became head of fundraising at YMCA England. He set up Bluefrog in 1997 with one simple goal – to be the agency he would have wanted to employ. His approach to fundraising is based on understanding and answering donor needs. Mark shares his ideas and findings through his blog, queerideas.co.uk.

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Reinier Spruit

Reinier Spruit is in love with fundraising since 2001. Ever since he's trying to improve his own fundraising skills and those of others. He's also the founder of 101fundraising, the crowdblog on fundraising.

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