When you combine four England fans, a 1,121-mile journey on foot, a World Cup tournament and a stray dog, you know you’re in for a good fundraising story. Here’s what the Walk to the World Cup fundraisers had to say about the highs and lows of their journey and how the £16,000 raised so far will be spent.
The story of walking to the World Cup
“We’ve always wanted to go to the World Cup – the chance to go to the greatest sporting competition in Brazil was something we couldn’t miss out on. Through a family friend we learnt about the drought in Bahia, north-east Brazil, and decided we could help by travelling to Brazil in an interesting way. So we walked 1,966 km from Mendoza in Argentina to Porto Alegre in Brazil, a journey that took 100 days, taking us through three countries and through 41 towns and villages.
“We saved hard for about a year to fund the project and worked tirelessly to raise awareness of our campaign through social media. It provided us with a platform to tell our story in an interesting way through videos and photographs. It’s allowed us to connect with people from Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay who’ve offered us free accommodation after learning about our project.
“There’s been a definite connection between posting content on our social media channels and receiving donations. Giving people the chance to live vicariously through our project and showing them the highs and lows, encourages them to feel part of something and be more willing to donate to help our cause.
“We were surprised that the drought in Bahia hadn’t received much news coverage, considering upwards of 10 million people had been affected and one million head of cattle had died.
“We knew that many Brazilians aren’t supporting the World Cup because they see it as a waste of money with no legacy left for Brazilians, so we wanted to ensure that we could do something to help the people of Brazil who will not benefit from the World Cup. Our family friend, Santa Tattersall is the trustee of the J de V Arts Care Trust and had been trying to raise money and awareness of the drought in Bahia, so it was a match made in heaven.
“To actually navigate ourselves across three South American countries on foot for 100 days is quite an achievement. We were completely on our own, no support vehicle, no team behind us to keep us safe and now having time to reflect on what we’ve done, I’m very proud of me and my three friends.
“I could write for days about the truly incredible people we’ve met whilst on our adventure and the beautiful places we’ve seen – the list is endless.
“But one man that really left a lasting impression on us was Teto from Balde in Argentina. Ten years ago, Teto was living rough in Buenos Aires after falling on hard times. He then decided to move back to his home town of Balde to live with his mum. When he arrived, the town youngsters had big problems with crime and drug abuse and there was no football team to speak of. So Teto started his own by sourcing funding from local businesses and providing the local kids with the equipment and resources they needed to play in the local league.
“Ten years later, Sporting Balde has won 97 trophies, has six teams of differing ages and most importantly, crime and drug abuse has been almost completely eradicated. Teto has transformed his own and many other people’s lives through football, and it was amazing to spend two days I will never forget with him and his family.
“Walk to the World Cup has inspired me to do more for charity and more with sport and young children, so I intend to work with a sporting charity when I return to Sydney in Australia, where I’m currently living.
“We’d like to make Walk to the World Cup a regular project, but we’re thinking Rickshaw to Russia has more of a ring to it and will be easier on our feet.”
What can we learn from these four footy fanatics?
England’s part in the World Cup may have been short-lived, but at least we were given a Disney-style happy ending when Jefferson, the stray black dog that had been following the group for 800km, was reunited with his real owner, Nacho. Other than proving that adopting a lovable lab guarantees donations, the famous four have taught us three very valuable lessons on how to deliver not only a successful fundraiser, but a memorable one at that.
1. Plan ahead and take advantage of key events in the calendar
The boys knew that #worldcup2014 wasn’t one to miss. Sit down at the beginning of each year and pinpoint key events in the calendar. Make sure your supporters don’t miss a thing and have time to be inventive.
2. Don’t be social shy
The pals made sure that their followers were with them every step of the way. They recorded video diaries, took before and after shots of their facial hair and hosted competitions inviting us to film a celebration as if we’d scored the winning goal in the final.
Encourage your fundraisers to create a Facebook page for the event. It’s important to post questions, imagery and videos to make posts stand out from the crowd and keep supporters updated.
3. Smash country borders
Walk to the World Cup received donations from an impressive 18 different countries, including Cyprus, Uruguay, Singapore and the Cayman Islands.
Potential donors no longer remain confined within a fundraiser’s own country. With any campaign, encourage your fundraisers to make sure there’s a strong focus on photo and video. This makes content easily shareable regardless of language, and makes sure that their storytelling element remains strong.