The Sing for Good Video Challenge has raised $195,000 since 2014. Lise Taylor asked Creativity Australia’s Founder, Tania de Jong AM, how the event has evolved.
When an Australian soprano is the founder of the nonprofit you work for it’s probably inevitable that singing in the office would come into the equation – and that’s exactly what happened in the Creativity Australia workplace.
“The inspiration behind the Sing for Good Video Challenge came from our own office karaoke singing. On most days, we would use YouTube to find a karaoke version of an agreed song and we would sing away. We had heaps of fun, and one day when brainstorming new peer-to-peer fundraising ideas, the concept of a singing challenge just seemed so obvious!” says Creativity Australia’s Founder, Tania de Jong AM.
F&P spoke with de Jong about what makes the video challenge tick.
What does the event involve?
In discussion with some other charities, we realised that the current peer-to-peer fundraising model is often based around physical activities like fun runs. Unfortunately, this excludes many people. In comparison, singing is equally challenging but can be done by everyone – people of all ages and abilities, or disabilities.
The Sing for Good Video Challenge therefore swaps fun runs – and ice buckets and moustaches – for community singing. It promotes joy, wellbeing and inclusion, and aims to get people singing together to tackle the global epidemic of our times: loneliness.
In groups of two or more, people film themselves singing a song and enter their video via singforgood.org. They then ask their networks to vote and donate to their entries.Tell us about the key objectives.
Our Sing for Good fundraising target is to raise $200,000 in 2017 and continue to grow each year so we can:
• Get everyone in Australia singing and experiencing the neuroscientific benefits of singing with others.
• Support Creativity Australia’s With One Voice transformational social inclusion and community wellbeing programs.
• Help Creativity Australia become sustainable over time and reduce its reliance on support from trusts and foundations.
• Support our charity partners, many of which have similar missions and thus can share their work with the With One Voice members and vice versa. The benefit to being a charity partner to the Sing for Good Video Challenge is that 75% of all funds the charity raises go directly to that organisation to help it achieve its mission. The remaining 25% contributes to covering the costs of running the Sing for Good campaign
How has the challenge progressed since its inception
Our small team of three full-time equivalent staff plus conductors and volunteers do most of the work in-house. In our pilot year in 2014, the event was called Sing for Spring. The Creativity Australia team set the example with our rendition of Chubby Checker’s The Twist, literally twisting our way around our office, and then used it to encourage our With One Voice choirs and a few connected supporters to get on board.
Once we had content, we used social and traditional media to obtain free PR. We also reached out to our existing partners, stakeholders and ambassadors, including Ted Baillieu (the ex-Premier of Victoria) and Allan Fletcher (Dr Karl Kennedy in Neighbours), our With One Voice corporate supporters such as Barwon Health plus city councils.
Using email and phone calls, we challenged donors to enter and share their entries to encourage donations. The response was great. We had 45 entries, raised $25,000 and tested some ideas about what people would need to do to effectively engage.
In 2015 we renamed the campaign Sing for Good to give us more global reach and flexibility on timing, and to highlight the connection to doing good and feeling good through singing, charity and fundraising.
We developed our own website, approached our donors and potential supporters with weekly EDMs and other social media posts to gain more awareness, followers and engagement, and partnered with Leading Aged Services Australia (LASA), winning best stand at its annual conference with our Sing for Good singing booth. We also received an incredible entry from Dr Charlie Teo and his operating theatre team singing Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive (in the operating theatre complete with patient on the table!), which generated lots of interest.
Then, in 2016, we added a selection of backing tracks and other materials to make the challenge as user-friendly as possible and encourage more participation. The largest entry came from over 1,500 members of the audience singing together at the opening of TEDx Melbourne. Ted Baillieu submitted an incredibly entertaining entry, which included him swimming in a massive storm! Bendigo Bank and Adelaide Bank’s entry featured 660 bank managers from their conference singing The Jackson’s Blame it on the Boogie.
We reached out to more charity partners, such as Guide Dogs Victoria, schools, sporting clubs and workplaces such as the Australian Performing Rights Association (APRA AMCOS), and partnered with Bohemia advertising agency and Progressive PR to help us spread the word on a pro bono basis.
There’s been a lot of phone calls and reminders via email to entrants asking them to keep sharing their entries and requesting donations from their networks, plus weekly EDMs, social media posts, and sharing of collateral including Sing for Good postcards and posters. We have received over 200 entries over the past two years and raised $170,000. Since the event’s inception this has led to an overall total of $195,000.
Tell us about the success factors and main challenges.
What makes Sing for Good work is that it combines fun and irreverence with the goal of supporting people in need, and gives people permission to do something we all love: to sing out loud with others.
However, it hasn’t always been easy, as there is a lot of fear around singing (and even speaking) in public. However, as each year has passed it has become easier and the community is starting to embrace the massive neuroscientific and social benefits of group singing. In fact, in 2016 we received some great television, radio and other
media coverage and we are now starting to build a strong social media following.
Other critical success factors include engaging more ambassadors including Dr John Demartini and the others noted above. We do this through our own and board member networks plus other recommendations, contacting them directly or via their managers. We have other well-known people who are interested in getting involved in 2017 and beyond. As awareness of the challenge builds, it is becoming easier to secure support. We have, however, experienced three challenges:
Fear of failure People aren’t encouraged to sing in our society. They feel embarrassed to sing outside the shower or with others. To help build confidence and self-efficacy, we have created a set of resources for well-known songs on the website and we’re encouraging people to create ‘low-fi’ entries that do not have high production standards, but rather are fun, simple and irreverent.
Technology While it seems simple enough, anything that involves uploading video is at the whim of varying internet speeds and an individual’s patience. To overcome technology challenges, we have had to create multiple back-up processes to ensure there is always a way to upload entries. We are now looking at partnering with an incredible karaoke-style app to make this process more streamlined.
Fundraising Many people enter the challenge and then don’t share their entries or encourage their networks to donate. We have been working with entrants to encourage them to set higher fundraising targets and share their entries with strong calls to action, and have created specific written copy and social media posts for entrants to use. In 2017 we want to encourage people to challenge friends and co-workers to get involved by either entering or donating. Imagine all the bank or real- estate branches in Australia singing against one another to support people in need!
2017 and beyond
We are going to be focusing on how we can leverage bigger partners to get even more traction. We’ve demonstrated the concept and shown that people want to get on board, and so for 2017, it’s about the bigger corporate partners and more ambassadors.
If we can get two to four major partners that each have 100 stores, offices or teams that ‘compete’ against each other and can raise $500 to $1,000 each, we will be able to hit our $200,000 goal and continue to support many more disadvantaged people and grow this challenge to include many other charities.
Likewise, we are going to work with AFL and the other football codes; after all, what could be better for a club than having thousands of their fans, in club colours, singing the club song to raise money for charity? And, of course, we are going to work with charity partners to help them take up the opportunity too.
Visit singforgood.org/gallery to watch the entries.