For my Jellybean 12 days of giving I spent the day with the Comms (awareness and influence of prospect donors) and IGU Individual Giving Unit (Recruitment and commitment) teams at the Plan International UK offices in London. My purpose was to learn more about how they market their sponsorship programme and to share my own experiences – Jellybean has sponsored a child for every employee for over 32 years – and to host a workshop on what Plan International UK could do better in the future by leveraging their sponsorship database, maximising media opportunities and improving future communications to increase recruitment of sponsors.

Child sponsorship is Plan International UK’s flagship fundraising activity. It accounts for £16.2 million of the organisation’s annual income and is at the core of Plan International’s values and history. The charity was established in 1937 during the Spanish Civil war as Foster Parents Scheme for Children in Spain, asking British people to donate one shilling a day to provide a child with food and shelter and asking them to write letters and send photos to the child to show them that someone cared about them. Over 80 years later, sponsorship is still at the heart of its work with children in developing countries. A sponsor’s donation funds projects in the community where their sponsored child lives, making a lasting and sustainable difference to the child and their entire community. I know from personal experience that sponsoring a child is incredibly rewarding. To know that you are doing good, while exchanging letters and photos enable you to see first-hand how much your support is helping transform a child’s life in a holistic way (clean water, education, health) as well as opening up opportunities for them to become self-sufficient in the future. It’s the “teach a man to fish” theory.

As part of their work Plan International UK have become experts on girls’ rights and their flagship campaign Because I am a Girl focuses on issues affecting girls both internationally (trafficking, child marriage, gender-based violence) and in the UK (street harassment, period poverty, body image), so their essential work is on home soil too.

Currently Plan International UK have 78,000 child sponsors, supporting over 83,000 children in 48 countries around the globe, but as always they need more support to continue to carry out the great work they do both in the UK and on the ground around the world.

It costs just £19.50 a month to sponsor a child and help them access education, clean water, a life free from violence and a future full of possibility. To put that in perspective that’s 7 cups of high street coffee or 5 pints of beer a month, and whilst I appreciate many people are struggling to make ends meet on a daily basis there is a section of our society where such a sacrifice could be taken in their stride. Just food for thought…

I left the workshop today inspired and impressed by the dedicated, hardworking and passionate team at Plan International UK and thank them for making me feel so welcome. It is clear that the organisation faces many difficult challenges in a world where political, environmental, technical and social issues impact on their work every day but their resolve is steadfast. They have a great story to tell and have achieved so much in such a short space of time and I look forward to seeing their re-invigorated communications and ideas in 2020 and beyond to ensure that this wonderful charity continues in its essential mission to give every child every chance.

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