Thank goodness for Air con! July was so hot in London; and whilst some would be less than happy at missing most of the amazing weather due to being in the studio... I was simply blessing the air con... and chilling with our artists!

The last few months have definitely seen an increase in studio hours at BIRD... regularly now, 29-37 hours of the week are spent in our studio delivering our one-to-one sessions! Add on to this, the attendant work preparing for each session and it is a full time job of its own!

This is fabulous and is a very real representation of our growth and also demonstrates the appetite and need for our sessions. However, all the other essential stuff to running a charity still needs to be done! Fundraising, strategy, administration, marketing, networking, developing the new creative streams through which we can build the mentoring relationships, getting our new studio in Suffolk open etc! If anyone has fundraising or PR experience and time on their hands and would be interested in volunteering those skills we’d love to hear from you!

Still there was time for the launch of Wingspan Group and the occasion of its first event! Wingspan Comedy was what I am calling a modest success! The first ever show filled a small venue with 35 people, which is good when you think Wingspan has no proven track record as yet! The show itself was though, excellent and everyone went away having had a thoroughly lovely evening. Hopefully Wingspan can quickly grow a reputation for high quality, intimate, arts events... Wingspan Comedy was as good a start as we could’ve hoped for! So, many, many thanks to the Wingspan team for all their work, especially Stephen Mawhinney without whom it simply would not have happened. The current thinking is for a second show across three nights in November! So watch this space ... you can keep an eye on what’s coming up from the Wingspan Group by liking the Facebook page: (I know gigs and a dance performance are in the pipeline too - all to raise money for BIRD.)

Raising money is a huge mission for BIRD at a time when there are so many great causes clamouring for people’s ‘hard-earned’ and even more applying to the funding pots available from grant giving bodies and foundations etc. The Wingspan project is indicative of an approach we are trying to take .. which is rather than only asking for Donations (which we do ask for here!) we are keen to add value to the donor! We believe in charity simply for the sake of charity i.e simply giving, but we are aware of potential donor fatigue in the current climate; which is why we are trying to adopt initiatives that offer you something in return, like the Wingspan events! Our merchandise is the same - you get a cool high quality t-shirt or hoody, unique to BIRD - with an original design by the fabulous and award winning street artist Naomi Edmondson (Survival Techniques).

This approach is representative of where I believe fundraising’s future lies and is epitomised by what is called ‘passive giving’ or the term I prefer ‘Lifestyle Giving’.

BIRD has been early adopters of as many of these initiatives as we can, to attempt to bring added value to the donor:

Give As You Live, is superb - it creates income for us from the retailers you shop with online... it’s so simple and now it’s available on mobile devices so please have a look!

ChariTable is slightly more clunky to use still in as much as you have to use a phone to call and book...(!) but as a percentage return is one of the best! For every diner you book at a restaurant through their platform they give BIRD £1.

The one that brings you, the donor, the most added value is Savoo! Savoo have hundreds of voucher codes that can save you loads of money! 50% of the commission they make on these deals goes to BIRD.. you save and you donate!! Amazing! They also have the simplest and most fun way to generate money which is a browser that generates 1p for every unique search you make online. I have raised £20 simply doing what I’d be doing anyway...

To be really effective all these things require volume so we need people to adopt them and also spread the word of the genius of these platforms and of the concept of Lifestyle Giving.

One way to achieve volume would be to get companies and offices to adopt these things

... imagine a whole office who search online as part of their daily work all using the Savoo browser for BIRD! Or a business that booked all there client entertainment and business breakfasts through ChariTable! It’s the easiest CSR win ever!! So if you are in an orgiansation how about selling the concept to your MD/FD. Savoo is now directly using its commercial relationships to offer savings to corporates on their purchasing! Get in touch if you’re in charge of procurement and I’ll hook you up!

Anyway as a reminder of why we need to raise funds... you can hear one of the tracks by BIRD Artist Al-ameen Ali... who ironically as someone who has been blind from birth is often left feeling ‘unseen’ , but is relishing exercising his creativity and bringing his ‘brilliance’ and finding a voice through songwriting and recording with BIRD.

We look forward to reporting on August next month... as, on the 21/08/18 it will be three years exactly since we ran our first one-to-one session!

Until then!!

Things you can do if you want to help:

Donate.

Spread the word - Tell your friends about us down the pub, on social media etc (there is superb music to share on our website)

Volunteer - If you have a creative skill that you could see working effectively on a one-to-one basis as way of growing relationship and rapport, we’d love to hear from you.

Fundraise - There is a little known page on our site where you can set yourself up as a fundraiser and do something creative and incredible to raise money for us.