With their 10th anniversary fast approaching, Brighton-based paid media and SEO agency Search Seven have raised the bar by setting themselves the challenge of bringing their fundraising total to £77,000 by the end of 2021. We spoke to Managing Director, Gavin Willis to find out more.
We last caught up with you in 2018 during your #share7 campaign. Before you tell us about the new campaign you have underway, what have you been up to since then?
“That’s right – the #share7 campaign across 2018 was incredible. We raised an amazing £20,000 for the seven charities we nominated, with £10,000 going to our flagship charity Rockinghorse. Our efforts were recognised locally by being awarded the CSR Excellence Award at the Brighton & Hove Business Awards 2019 and shortlisted for the same award at the Sussex Business Awards 2019 – for our commitment to fundraising. We were thrilled with this recognition and even more thrilled to hand over the monies we raised to our charities, and seeing it have such an impact.
We haven’t stopped raising money for charity, either – in 2019 we held our respective annual golf day and quiz night, raising £8,000 combined, and our team have been on a fundraising rampage – with Christina raising £1,000 for Epilepsy Society, and in March 2020 Andy and Ryan, took part in the Endurance Life Half Marathon across Birling Gap, raising money for The Clock Tower Sanctuary and for The Royal Brompton Hospital, of which we donated £650 towards their efforts as part of our CSR strategy to encourage employees to fundraise for their nominated charities.
This brings us to new #share77k campaign which launched in March 2020. Tell us more and has it been difficult this year to fundraise?
“The #share77k campaign is a continuation from our #share7 campaign, and the money raised will be shared amongst 10 charities, each nominated by the team, like we did beforehand. As of the start of 2020 we had raised just under £51,000 since the agency was formed in 2011.
As you mentioned, we launched the campaign in March, the exact same week as the pandemic outbreak was announced, so this was incredibly tough. Charities that we know and support, as well as our own organised events, were immediately postponed and fundraising in general came to a halt whilst everyone was trying to re-group and figure out what was going on. It was a massive blow, as many of our charities do not get much government funding, if any, and solely rely on fundraising events which they couldn’t put on.
We had to postpone our #share77k launch event, which was our charity golf day set for July, to later in the year, but despite the set-back I was adamant I wanted us to help where we could, so we immediately reacted by promoting and hosting an online charity quiz at the end of March, where we had 50 teams sign up, raising £750 which was fantastic.
Following this we launched a Corporate Charity Rally on LinkedIn, asking people to record a video of themselves serving a volley and tagging 4 people to keep the rally going. A bit of fun to keep spirits high and to help raise much needed awareness on behalf of our 10 amazing charities, so in essence we could rally behind them during these tough times. This raised £400 and we classed both as un-official #share77k events.
What are the ‘official’ #share77k events you have organised so far and what are the big plans for 2021?
“So we have six events lined up across 2020 and 2021, and delighted to say that we hosted our charity golf day in October at Mid Sussex Golf Club and just a few weeks ago now we hosted our charity Christmas quiz online – with your very own Sam Thomas as quiz master extraordinaire – from both events we raised a staggering £7,000 which (on top of the other events we did at the start of lockdown plus other donations) means we have now surpassed the £60,000 milestone by end of the 2020, which given how tough it has been, I am absolutely amazed by – and incredibly grateful to everyone who has supported the #share77k campaign so far.
As we enter 2021, we have four events left to go – as well as the inaugural charity golf day, and a charity football match that we are bringing back for our finale year (over the summer months), we are introducing two new events that we’re really excited about. People are all a bit quizzed out now, so we are teaming up with County Business Clubs and Network My Club to bring everyone the Sussex Virtual (Pub) Games 2021, hopefully late February/ early March – where teams can come together on their own group table and get involved in a crystal maze style event in a virtual pub, with teams doing different challenges to win points and prizes – it’s going to be great fun, so keep an eye out for this.
Then later in 2021, we’ll be asking teams to pick up their table tennis bats and battle it out to be named Ping Pong Champions! Some of our clients and partners have played on our office table tennis table – which is what sparked the idea – and we think it’ll be great fun to get everyone playing against each other, whilst giving them the opportunity to meet other local businesses, as well as being inclusive to friends and family too, as all our events are.
I am thinking a dodgeball style event with music, bar, each team having own headbands etc. It will be electric – and as it’s the last event, we would combine this with an afterparty to celebrate our 10-year anniversary, and hopefully it will be double celebrations if we can reach our £77,000 fundraising target.
We have had some great support over the years, and we will be relying on this to continue into 2021 as we get closer to the end of our 10th year, and ultimately close in on the target we have set. If we manage to do it, the Search Seven 10-year party will be pretty special and one not to miss!
What impact has your fundraising efforts had on charities over the years?
“The money we have raised over the years has made a massive difference to many charities we support, in ways we never imagined. RISE, a charity that supports people affected by domestic abuse in Brighton, were able to fund a Volunteer Coordinator who went on to recruit 13 helpline volunteers 2019, allowing the helpline to open on an additional evening. This has removed the list of people waiting for a call back, and those that do require call backs receive them on the same or next day. RISE has been able to support more people, and provide a faster response to professionals, family and friends.
“The fundraising money donated to Rockinghorse has contributed to a resuscitaire to enable training of resuscitations skills at birth to benefit the neonatal service at the Trevor Mann Baby Unit (TMBU) in Brighton. The resuscitaire allows trained staff to teach essential resuscitation skills to doctors, nurses, midwives and advanced nurse practitioners both in situ on the ward and on nationally recognised resuscitation courses.
“We have sponsored Allan Mubangizi for the last six years now, a pupil at Nkuringo Primary school in Bwindi Forest, Uganda. As well as covering his yearly costs for education we donated a water tank to the school and my wife and I visited the village and school in 2017, which was the most powerful experience, especially with the whole school and village greeting us with songs and dancing when we arrived. A moment I will never forget and its experiences like this that make me very proud to have built a purpose driven agency that really cares and wants to make a difference on people’s lives.
In 2019, our donation from the #share7 campaign directly covered the cost for life saving eye surgery for a patient who lives in Nkuringo. These are just a few examples of how the money helps our charities and spurs us on to do more when we know what impact it is having on communities locally, but also nationally and all over the world.
How did you choose your 10 charities?
“It’s important that the team choose charities that are close to their hearts. We always support our flagship charity, Rockinghorse – and have done since day one. The other nine charities have been chosen by me and the Search Seven team. This year we’ve introduced three new organisations – Brighton Women’s Centre, Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospitals Charity and Epilepsy Society.
What does 2020 look like for Search Seven outside of the #share77k campaign?
“Very good question, as a lot of people think we are an events company these days! We are very much a digital marketing agency with a charity drive/ethos in place and we’ve got lots of exciting plans for 2021.
We have been working hard on plans to improve all things from client services to getting an amazing people culture in place that can match the amazing charity ethos we’ve built up over the years.
After a difficult year in 2020, and at one point seeing half our revenue go overnight when many of our travel and hospitality clients could no longer operate, we have steadily built things back up, and now in a position to re-invest in the business and will be looking to add a further 3-4 people to the team in 2021- which is incredibly exciting!
Our aim is to bring on board some exceptional paid media talent, with new junior to mid-level roles being open from January, and we are delighted to announce that we will also be joining the kick start movement, offering 6-month placements to one or two lucky individuals aged 16-24 and currently seeking an opportunity to get into work.
We will be providing some superb opportunities for people to join a great team that has a strong purpose and people culture and be in an environment where they can develop and be supported whilst feeling like they can make a big difference on the community too.
So, with four key events to organise, as well as a business to run, new people culture and talent programmes to develop, client days and staff parties and days out, there is plenty to keep us busy! You’ll hear no complaints from me though, when I started Search Seven I set out to prove that you could run a successful agency that not only delivered results for clients, but could make a real impact, both in donations to charity and in knowledge-sharing, at the same time. It’s why we call our service digital marketing with meaning.
Hopefully, our journey and purpose driven ethos, inspires other start-ups and small businesses in Sussex and beyond, in proving that you don’t need to be a big company to make a big difference.
How can people get involved?
“Please do come along and enjoy our events, whether they are online or not! Keep an eye on our website and social media channels for when we announce dates and tickets, our events often sell out fast. We also need sponsors for our events and donations for our raffles and auctions. For one-off donations we have a JustGiving page, where you can also keep track of our progress as we edge closer to our £77k target.
“We have social media artwork and content for you to share with your followers and let them know about our events, too. And if you’re hosting a fundraising event, we can take part in we’d love to hear about it – every penny we raise counts towards our total and shared between our 10 amazing charities.”
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