Fundraising Goes Online

Hello everyone my name is Kirsty and I am the community and Events Fundraiser at Leuchie House. I joined the team back in January this year after a 15 year career in the corporate events sector. I knew 2020 was going to be a learning curve for me but I never could have predicted what transpired over the next few months.

My welcome to Leuchie House was amazing, I would say the best induction into an organisation I've ever had. Over 2 weeks in January, whilst the house was closed for refurbishment, I got to meet my new colleagues from across departments, learn about the history of Leuchie House and the vital work we do for our guests and their families as well as learning about the aspirations Leuchie has for the future. I was impressed, for example, at how forward thinking Leuchie is in terms of using technology and digital solutions in the house to enable guests to have more independence during their stay. Something which really impressed me was the honesty showcased during our sessions. Leuchie has had struggles over the years, whether that be fighting to keep the doors open back in 2011or receiving difficult care inspectorate results. Everything was laid bare and I was shown just how far this amazing team had come together and what a special place Leuchie was going to be to work.

From this training I was excited and enthusiastic about what lay ahead. I was ready to get started in my role and to set out plans and goals for the year. I spent most of February focusing on planning our events, securing suppliers and venues and meeting with our committees to arrange our much-loved Ascot Afternoon in June, Charity Golf Day in October, West Coast Fundraiser in November and a brand-new event, our Easter Egg Hunt, for April. As well as our many Sponsored Events including the Supernova Run, The Edinburgh Marathon and The Kiltwalk it was all go and I felt like I was finding my stride.

Then in early March the reality of Covid -19 became a daily part of life at Leuchie House. We received guidance which was reviewed daily. Before long we were getting set up to work from home and the difficult decision was taken to temporarily close the House and send guests home. This is something we all faced together with our guests as Mark (CEO) made the announcement. Again, I was blown away by the honesty shown to us and our guests by the Senior Management Team as back then we really didn’t know what lay ahead of us.

On April 6th I joined 25 of my colleagues on furlough. It was a very strange time as I had been gearing up for my first event with Leuchie the following Saturday! Now I was cancelling or postponing everything I had been working on. It would have been easy to get down heartened by this but I think years of working in the events industry has taught me how to adapt quickly and move forward.

The support I was given by my manager Lana and rest of the Senior Management Team throughout furlough was exceptional. We were kept updated as Leuchie established a contract to support the NHS with their efforts. Reassured at every step that the aim was to ensure our jobs were going to be there for us to return to and reassured too that while we have felt helpless we were doing our part to help Leuchie get through and open its doors to ours guests once again.

During furlough, like many, I cherished my one chance a day to get out the house for some exercise and fresh air but Leuchie and my colleagues were never far from my mind. I joined guests and colleagues most Thursday evenings, singing along (badly) with the Leuchie Live Lounge on Facebook, I took time on a Tuesday to be mindful of my wellbeing and was bursting with pride when Leuchie’s latest Care inspectorate results were announced.

I was furloughed for 2 months and returned in June, albeit working from home. I was so glad to be back! Our Emergency Appeal launched shortly after lockdown began had been a great success and the generosity shown to Leuchie and the vital work we do was overwhelming.

My colleagues working within Leuchie House delivering support to the NHS were now entering their 3rd month and I felt a fire in my belly to do what I could in my role to elevate some of the pressure they had endured. My role has significantly changed since returning, with Covid restrictions still in place for mass gatherings and events we have adapted like many other charities to online virtual events and fundraisers. This has been a big learning curve for me as throughout my career I have thrived on the social aspect of events and seeing the joy new experiences brings to attendees.

I quickly signed up to online tutorials and webinars to network with other fundraisers and learn more about what the digital fundraising world had to offer. Within two weeks of my return we hosted our first virtual fundraising event ‘Raise the stakes for Respite – Royal Ascot Raffle’ with the support of CALA Homes, Archerfield House and Archerfield Walled Garden. Once we launched this event I waited with bated breath, pacing up and down in my living room/now home office to see if people would engage and join us. My team will attest to the fact that our Teams chat was then filled with daily if not hourly updates of ticket sales. I never thought I would get the same rush of adrenaline for online events as I did for face to face events but I was very much mistaken. We sold over 400 tickets and raised £4500 in just 10 days. Remember those tough times I spoke about previously which Leuchie had faced? Well this showed me first hand that no matter what we endure there is a special place in peoples' hearts for Leuchie.

Our community of supporters have joined the virtual fundraising efforts aswell with The 2.6 Challenge, Facebook Birthday Fundraisers, Longest Day Challenges and even climbing Berwick Law 7 times in one day!!! This month a Leuchie House regular Iain Donaldson-Elder, who has just spent two weeks emergency respite with us, has taken on his own challenge along side his wife raising funds for us and The Walk with Scott community. As a small homage to Captain Sir Thomas Moore, Iain will be wheelchairing 100 miles around his local park over the 31 days of August come rain or shine. In his own words “to an able-bodied person 100 miles over 31 days is not a huge challenge, but to a wheelchair user who is not really in the best of shape 100 miles is like climbing Everest.” Iain is already well on his way to smashing his £1000 target and if you would like to you can donate <<here>>.

If you want to get involved with fundraising for Leuchie then why don't you ‘Step up for Carers’ this September and sign up to take part in the Virtual  Kiltwalk  on the 11th - 13th  September.  This much beloved sponsored challenge event has, like all of us, had to adapt to suit the current restrictions. Over the Virtual Kiltwalk Weekend get that tartan on and take on any Kiltwalk inspired challenge you wish, from home. Go for a walk of any length you wish, cycle or even jump on a trampoline … it can be anything! And, The Hunter Foundation will  top up any further funds you raise by 50%.

I have now started my 8th month working for Leuchie House and whilst the road travelled has not been the challenge I envisaged at the start of the year, I feel that due to the pandemic I have experienced and learnt more about this incredible organisation, the people who work here and their resillience, the supporters and those who depend on the services Leuchie House provides. Because of that I am proud to be part of the team and will continue to do all that I can to ensure our doors open once again for our guests and their families to enjoy a much needed respite break with us.

I also want to say a huge thank you to our Leuchie community for all their support over the years and especially during this crisis.