Topic: Charity March 26, 2018
Author: Neil Cubley

Did 2 UCD students just discover the future of fundraising?

Bank of Ireland Social Entrepreneur Challenge

Photo: Neil Cubley

3 MIN READ

When students Meg Brennan and Emma Bailey heard about the Bank of Ireland Social Entrepreneur Challenge to develop a groundbreaking fundraising idea for the Jack & Jill Children’s Foundation, they decided to enter. ‘We knew it was a cause we wanted to support,’ says Emma, ‘because Meg had first-hand experience of Jack & Jill, before.’

‘I had an older sister who passed away’

‘I had an older sister, Carrie,’ Meg reveals, ‘who passed away five years ago. She was just seventeen when she died and she was a Jack & Jill kid when she was young. She had quite a few conditions to deal with but the main thing was that she was quadriplegic cerebral palsy so she was paralysed and had to be fed through a tube all her life.’

Bank of Ireland Social Entrepreneur Challenge
‘That’s why I think Jack & Jill are so good’

Meg’s mother worked as a lab technician before Carrie was born but she had to give up her job stay at home to care for her afterwards. ‘The first few years are the toughest,’ says Meg, ‘because nobody is ready for a kid with those conditions. That’s why I think Jack & Jill are so good.’

Meg remembers going to Jack & Jill events when she was a child where she says she saw ‘parents walking around like zombies’ worn out by looking after children 24/7. Jack & Jill provide nursing hours to families of children with developmental delay because of brain damage so that they can be cared for at home and the parents can take a break.

Commuting time was brainstorming time

Meg and Emma went to school together at Our Lady’s in Terenure, are both now in their second undergraduate year at UCD and are both studying Biomedical Engineering. Busy with their studies, the two friends decided to use the hour they spent in the car together commuting to and from UCD to come up with ideas. ‘We knew we wanted a social media campaign because it’s the quickest, easiest way to get something going,’ says Meg.

Creating a fundraising challenge

‘So then we started thinking ‘what can we do with social media?” Emma chips in. ‘We knew about the success of things like the ice bucket challenge (for motor neurone disease) and #nomakeupselfie (for cancer research) so we knew we wanted some kind of a challenge. We played around with food ideas for a while. Getting people to pick their least favourite food and film themselves eating it.

But you don’t look particularly attractive when you’re eating your least favourite food! So we ruled that out. Then Meg came up with the idea one day in the car.’

Entering the Bank of Ireland Social Entrepreneurship Challenge

‘Emma was driving,’ says Meg, ‘I was looking out the window and it was bin day and all the bins were out on the street and they looked so bland so I said ‘why don’t we get people to do up their bins?’ Emma admits that they both laughed at first ‘then we said, ‘hold on, this actually could be okay!’

Two days later they sat down and completed the entry form for the Social Entrepreneurship Challenge.

‘Have you bin donating?’

They called their fundraising idea ‘Have you bin donating?’ ‘It’s a social media campaign where you decorate your wheelie bin, snap a photo, put it up on social media with your text donation and nominate people to take up the challenge after you,’ explains Emma.

Bank of Ireland Social Entrepreneur Challenge
Refining the idea at the workshop

A workshop was held a couple of days before the eight ideas that made it to the shortlist were judged giving budding social entrepreneurs the opportunity to refine their concepts. ‘We went into the workshop thinking ‘we’ve totally nailed this’ and came out thinking ‘we’ve so much work to do!’ says Meg.

We had to figure out how exactly we could do it. They also made us think about the hook of our campaign, how it could run for 12 months of the year and how it links to the charity.’

Presenting to the judges

On the day that the ideas were judged, Meg and Emma had to speak before a panel of judges then field questions in a Q&A session during which the judges probed for any weaknesses. They won the Challenge and were rewarded with the opportunity to help put their idea into action plus summer work placements at Bank of Ireland and One4All vouchers.

What will success look like?

The challenge is scheduled to launch this summer. I ask Meg and Emma what they think success will look like for ‘Have you bin donating?’

Meg: ‘I hope our idea will help make Jack & Jill more of a household name so it’s more in people’s minds and they are more likely to donate to it.

Emma: ‘And raise a lot of money! It’s also nice that we get to be involved at all stages going forward.’

What did Jack & Jill think of the idea?

The Jack & Jill Children’s Foundation was delighted by the standard of all of the final presentations, the calibre of the students and the ideas the Social Entrepreneur Challenge attracted. ‘At the outset, we were looking for powerful and innovative business ideas that can be put into practice by the Jack & Jill fundraising team,’ says Hugo Jellett, CEO of the Jack & Jill Children’s Foundation.

‘This ambition was delivered in spades. There was a high degree of consensus on who the winners were and we have already met with Meg and Emma to progress ‘Have you bin donating’ in the very near future.’

Find out more about Jack & Jill

The Social Entrepreneurship Challenge is one of the activities to come out of Bank of Ireland’s flagship charity partnership with the Jack & Jill Children’s Foundation which provides direct funding for home respite care to families of children with brain damage up to the age of five, who suffer developmental delay as a result of brain damage. The charity also provides end-of-life care to all children up to the age five.

Since it was founded, 20 years ago, Jack & Jill has provided much-needed nursing and respite care to over 2,250 families in every county and community across Ireland.

Topic: Charity March 26, 2018
Author: Neil Cubley

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