At Rowcroft we're always trying to think of new ways for people to get involved and support our work. Our services cover 300 miles so we try to create fundraising events and campaigns that will appeal to a wide range of audiences across the South Devon region. We also pride ourselves on making each of our events unique to us; which is where The Colour Rush began...
Before launching in 2013, a 'paint run' was still a relatively new concept; The Colour Rush event was the first of its kind in South Devon and one of the first to be put on by a hospice in the UK. We thought the energy of The Colour Rush event would help to dispel the 'dark and depressing' misconception people have about hospices while raising awareness of Rowcroft amongst a younger audience.
Unfortunately, as this type of event was almost unheard of in the UK we had difficulty trying to succinctly explain how a paint run works. Many people, for instance, thought emulsion paint was going to be thrown over them. Status updates on The Colour Rush Facebook page allowed us to describe the event in greater detail, but didn't have the same reach across South Devon as a banner or bus side ad. Whilst we had almost 500 sign ups, we had hoped for more.
We experienced overwhelmingly positive responses from those who did attend, particularly on social media. There was an influx of people using the hashtag #ColourRush and liking the Facebook page. On Facebook we asked people to send us their photos from the event and over 120 images were received.
However due to disappointing numbers at 2013's event, the decision was made for the event not to go ahead in 2014. As our fanbase on Facebook had been so supportive and engaging we thought it'd be best to first release the decision via a status update instead of our supporters reading about it in the local newspaper.
We slightly underestimated the response we'd get and quickly received multiple messages from people offering their help to ensure 2014's event went ahead. The fanbase came together to create a community spirit; engaging each other in conversation whilst expressing their disappointment. One particular comment read:
"2013's Colour Rush encapsulated community spirit, and was an event that can be attended by all parties, regardless of age, sex, fitness level and so on. Don't shut it down, just change the formula!"
It was decided we could not ignore this mass level of public support so we worked hard on re-instating The Colour Rush into our events calendar. We have since changed the 'formula' of the event; stripping it back to a fun 5k paint 'run' but have been careful to make it clear that this event isn't competitive. We hoped the fact that you can run, walk, dance or even cartwheel your way around the route would appeal to a far wider audience.
To ensure we were making the right decisions, we held a focus group; inviting those who had offered their help and others from Facebook, we asked the group to share their views about the event with us.
The focus group was particularly helpful in building on from last year's event; we enjoyed hearing their praise for the event but also appreciated their thoughts on how we could improve.
Based on the feedback from our focus group, we developed a design concept which was a considerable move away from 2013's designs. We think these designs are now working well to advertise The Colour Rush and particularly reflect the fun and vibrancy of the event. This year we've used billboards, banners and bus shelter ads to show off photos from last year's event and we've received a wealth of feedback from people saying that they've noticed the designs and as a result have looked into the event.
After seeing the value of the feedback gained from focus groups, we are keen to implement them more often at Rowcroft - after all it's the public of South Devon who will be taking part in our events!
So far this year's event is proving very successful; within two weeks of registration opening we'd received almost 700 sign-ups and our online Facebook community has grown to over 3,500 likes! We're confident this year's event will be a sell out and the support will encourage the event to grow in the years to come.
Rowcroft heavily relies on the local community for support as over 70% of our funding comes from public donations. We thank everyone for their support and feedback you have given. We can't wait to see everyone on Saturday 13th September for the colour craziness! But if you haven't signed up yet, go to: www.thecolourrush.co.uk