Charities embracing the #firstfiver campaign

  • The First Fiver fundraising campaign has built on the excitement around the new polymer £5 note
  • Charities of all sizes and causes joined in by asking supporters to donate the new notes
  • We talk to four charities about their experiences of the campaign

The release of the new polymer £5 note on 13 September prompted an unexpected viral fundraising campaign. The hashtag #firstfiver has subsequently been used by all types of charities across the country to ask for donations.

Unlike previous viral fundraisers, such as #nomakeupselfie, this campaign was not connected to a particular cause. It also didn’t feature a complicated or strenuous task, such as the Ice Bucket Challenge or the #22PushUpChallenge.

Instead it was a simple request around a topical subject.

How the campaign began

The campaign started three days after the note was released, with a tweet by John Thompson, which said that he would be donating his first new £5 note to charity and asking if others would be doing so.

This started a conversation that was noticed by NCVO, UK Fundraising and the Institute of Fundraising, who all jumped on the idea and the hashtag #firstfiver.

Other charities quickly joined in, asking their supporters to donate their first notes to them (either physically, electronically online or via text message). Many organisations used images of the eye-catching new notes to attract attention, and others made short videos.

Once people started getting their fivers the campaign flourished and was subsequently covered by the national press.

This #firstfiver Storify shows examples of how organisations responded to the campaign.

Although the hashtag has been well-used since the campaign started, we wanted to know more about how it was working for individual organisations and spoke to four charities about their experiences.

The Children’s Trust

Chloe Edwards, Fundraising Manager at The Children’s Trust, said: “It’s always a talking point when money changes design, and the first new £5 note has certainly received lots of attention.

“#Firstfiver was a positive request that appealed to human kindness – when you have your first new, smaller, ‘plasticy’ £5 note in your hand, why not do something good with it and help someone else?

“Our campaign received a positive response on social media and we are still receiving #Firstfiver donations that go towards our work supporting children with brain injury.”

Blue Cross

Blue Cross said: “We’ve had a fantastic response to the #firstfiver campaign. Our communications and fundraising teams worked together to respond within a day of it starting. We promoted it on email, social media, website, in the Blue Cross shops, re-homing centres and hospitals. One of our shops even decorated its window to promote it!

“We’ve done two pushes so far and have had hundreds of donations that are already helping Blue Cross pets. By getting some of our pets to pose with the plastic notes, our social media posts have had a great reach too. Our Facebook post of a kitten playing with the note has had over 13,000 views and 130 shares. helping our campaign to reach more people.

“Donors have been taking photos of their pets with the notes, which also helps to share our message. “

Parkinson’s UK

“There’s been a bonus longevity to this campaign as people are still receiving their first £5 notes and still letting us know when they’ve come through,” said Parkinson’s UK.

“#firstfiver has been a great way to ask for donations on social, and we’ve been really pleased to see the response. We have seen a significant increase in texts to donate £5 donations as well as online donations.

“People have been tweeting to let us know they’ve got their first fiver and will be donating, or saying they will when they get their first. Donations are still coming in.”

School in a Bag

Zoe Fox of School in a Bag said: “I saw the campaign by chance at the start of October and decided we should jump on it. We’re only a small charity of four people. Although we don’t have thousands of followers on either Twitter or Facebook, the followers we do have are very loyal and tend to get behind what we do.

“Donations mainly came in person or through the post, although we have had a few online donations. So far we have received £145 with more pledged. We send out rucksacks filled with stationery and eating utensils to children around the world. Each SchoolBag costs £20, so we’re chuffed that this campaign has already raised enough for seven more children to have the chance to go to school.

“It has been brilliant that people have inspired their friends to donate their fiver to us too. We’ve been promoting it via Tweets and Facebook every day and it is still working. I still haven’t had my first one yet, neither have three of us in the office, so that’s at least three more that will be heading our way!

“It’s been a great thing – easy and fun to talk about. It has really got people thinking that they can give £5 to charity in a novel way.”

Get involved

If your organisation hasn’t joined in yet, it is not too late. The hashtag is still being well used across social media and many people still haven’t had their first fiver. Why not share a picture or video with your supporters today.