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Tag Archives: fundraising research


People love music, most people love parties and some people love karaoke. Can music events engage and inspire the next generation of 18-40 fundraisers?

We asked what events motivated people. More here. And we tested whether you could create an online music festival with Google Hangout. More here.

And we created a little pilot music festival of our own to explore music event fundraising models.

Here’s how we created Cowfest:

  • We ran ads on facebook asking for people who were interested in music to sign up for more information. £50 worth of advertising recruited 70 names – 70% of people interested were under 40.
  • The majority wanted to use bigger venues outside their houses (see our findings about what music events most motivate people here).
  • We surveyed them asking them what help they wanted and 4 things stood out: help with kit hire, a ticket system which their friends could use and got the money to charities, a list of things to do (licences etc) and to be part of a national event.
  • The majority of organisers wanted to chose the charity (although some wanted the audience to decide). Most organisers favoured local charities they had a strong connection to, so we created a simple online ticket system to make that possible.

[We believe there is a huge opportunity for a big national music event that works across the sector, to support a wide variety of charities].

  • We asked 5 brave and generous people to run pilot events in March (on a day which turned out to be the coldest and snowiest of the year).


  • Music events engaged a high percentage of first time fundraisers. Yay.
  • Our 5 brave test pioneers all want to run another festival (in better weather). Yay to them.
  • Average donation at pilot events was higher than expected – at £10-15 rather than £5-10 expected.
  • People want to be part of something bigger – They liked the idea a famous band could turn up, that lots of events were happening at the same time and they could be connected together online.
  • Organising a music festival is a higher barrier to entry than a house party; micro music festivals appear to organisers to be much harder work, follow up survey work showed people 3 times more likely to run their own ‘house party’ than a micro music festival. See the full results here.
  • Organisers were happy to pay a registration fee for core support if it was clear what it was for and how it would be useful.


If this has inspired you to start a music festival that plays great music and makes a difference check out the awesome We’re big fans.

If you’d like help to create a brand new music fundraising event, or want help with digital strategy email us:

During 2012/13 TheGivingLab ran a series of hack weekends in collaboration with Microsoft, Google Campus, General Assembly and others to test  whether they might be a vehicle for incubating new ways to generate income for UK charities.

Find out what they cost here and how to make them a success here.


Hack events bring together generous and smart people with skills in coding, digital design and entrepreneurial thinking to create innovative solutions to charity problems, including new income streams or ways of fundraising.

Click here to get a flavour of some of the ideas generated.


We wanted to see if the ideas created added something different to the charity market, so we asked several major and mid scale charities to assess 10 of the prototypes created. We wanted them to rate the ideas for originality (we wouldn’t have produced this), relevance to them (does it solve a problem they have) and commercial scale of impact (would it make a difference).

To our delight – ALL ideas were rated highly creative and surprisingly each charity focused on one or two ideas relevant to them and each charity made DIFFERENT selections. All charities found 1-3 projects commercially viable for them.


There are 3 quick questions you need to ask:

  • Why are you doing it?
  • Where does it fit into your business process?
  • What’s the cost vs what’s the benefit?

Hack events aren’t a cheap replacement for your fundraising and digital teams.

What they do deliver is a diversity of thinking, ideas and energy. That’s valuable. Hack communities are great at seeing things differently, they can help think about reaching new audiences, innovative products and different ways of delivering your services – and they love tech.

But your charity still needs a plan for taking great ideas to market and a financial model that makes sense. Also you need to be clear about the terms of engagement – do teams keep the rights in their ideas (especially revenue generating ones), do you want to develop ideas generated in-house or collaboratively with the creators?

If your charity is thinking about running hack events and you’d like some help, drop us a line:


During 2012/13 TheGivingLab ran a series of hack weekends in collaboration with Microsoft, Google Campus, General Assembly and others to test  whether they might be a vehicle for incubating new ways to generate income for UK charities.

Thanks to the over 300+ fun, intelligent and generous people who turned up with great ideas, bags of passion and some serious code and design skills. Find out what kind of ideas were generated here and how much it cost here.

Here’s our 6 top learnings:

  • Build a community/ eco-system – Some of our winning ideas came from participants who’d been to several events, slowly building their skills and team so be honest, consistent and open if you want people to come back.
  • Get a mix of skills in the room – to create viable market ready ideas you need a mix of skillsets; developer, entrepreneur, designer.  Events without one or the other generated lots of ideas, but not ideas with a revenue or business model.
  • Create teams with a mix of skills – Badging people with their skills and insisting every group has to be mixed is vital. Mixed teams generated the most viable business ideas.
  • Expert mentors accelerate good ideas – Mentors who created and run digital businesses mentored the women of the GeekGirlMeetUp and the ideas that came from that event were the most market ready. Each had a sense of who the product was for, how they would take to market and a business model.
  • Build the possible, don’t half finish the amazing  – giving participants a clear sense of what was possible to build in 48 hours and helping them focus their ideas is vital (expert feedback on ideas at the end of day 1 helps focus on the most critical elements of the plan and prototype too).
  • Have a path to market – great prototypes can remain just that. There’s a tough slog to get ideas to market. If your charity is thinking of organising a hack event you need to plan the route from hack event to the consumer. Will your organisation use the ideas as inspiration, will you pay for the winning team(s) to come work for you, will you back the development of the project stage by stage like a dragon from the den? Is your charity set up to manage the development and launch of new products. The hack weekend is the fun bit, but the valuable bit is when it starts generating money from the public for good causes.

If your charity is thinking about running a hack event and you’d like some help, drop us a line: