Charities get creative in search of new fundraising

By Paul Harper

A screenshot from the Rescue 1: Lift Off game. Photo / supplied
A screenshot from the Rescue 1: Lift Off game. Photo / supplied

The recession has tightened donors purse strings, so charitable organisations are looking to new ways of raising funds of their operations.

City missions in Wellington, Auckland and now Christchurch are benefiting from online food banks, provided by fundraising website Fundy.

"Basically we sell the products online, people go on and buy the products, and at the end of the month all of the products that have been purchased are given to the city mission itself," Fundy co-founder Tanerau Tuuta says.

The past two months have seen goods donated to the Auckland and the Wellington city missions. This month the products bought will be given to the Christchurch City Mission.

Mr Tuuta set the website up with a friend about a year ago to assist charities with raising funds online.

Sports clubs, schools and charities have already benefited from the Wellington-based website, using the site to sell products or tickets to fundraising events.

The site has also been used to raise money for sick children requiring life-saving medical treatment, such as two-year-old Madison Merrick who suffers from gastroschisis, meaning she was born with her bowels on the outside of her body. She requires a bowel transplant in the UK within the year.

Mr Tuuta says the website allows charities to keep the costs of fundraising down.

"We've made it free for organisers to use - so there is no cost involved. It's 24-hours, people can donate or purchase things from overseas, people don't have to stand out on the street and hope people have some coins in their pockets."

People are also now more trusting about donating online, he says.

"There used to be a real reluctance of buying things online ... people are more willing to give money online than they were five years ago."

Mr Tuuta says the costs of the site is off-set through his other business ventures.

"All the money that they raise they get back, if you raise $100 you get $100."

Another charity making the most of new technology is the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust, who has launched a mobile app game, available on both Apple and Android devices.

In Rescue 1: Lift Off, players manoeuvre the trust's aircraft across the country, rescuing patients as they pass iconic New Zealand scenery.

Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust event manager Nathan Turley says the idea was to capitalise on the trust's brand and popular TV2 show, Rescue 1.

"I was just thinking of ways we could monetise and fundraise, and I thought that since we have such obvious property with the helicopter that maybe a game would be a good way to do that," Mr Turley says.

He said people were more likely to donate money if they received something in return.

"There have been a few holes created in our fundraising because of our friend the recession."

Mr Turley was put in touch with Palmerston North-based PixelThis, who developed the game at no cost to the charity. Proceeds from the game are split between the developer and the charity.

"They spent the last eight weeks working on it without us having to part with any cash, so it is a win-win for us as a charity," Mr Turley says. "We haven't had to spend a cent on it, which we really appreciated."

Mr Turley says the game is "tongue in cheek".

"We didn't want it to be too realistic, we wanted it to be fun - we didn't want to show helicopters crashing."

He says the Rescue 1 show allows the trust to tap into a younger audience.

"But you're average 20-year-old or young professional is not just going to give you money because you ask for it ... if we can offer them a fun little game they can feel good about the money going to us - it's a win for everyone."

Peter Vullings, chief executive of Pixelthis, says the company was excited to be working alongside the trust.

"Their rescue efforts are appreciated throughout New Zealand. This, along with the strength of the Rescue 1 brand, contribute enormously to the game," Mr Vullings says.

"Rescue 1:lift off is an addictive, tongue-in-cheek helicopter rescue game. We want to raise awareness for the rescue choppers, and just for a bit of fun look at it from a less serious angle."

Updates are already in the pipeline for the game, with more levels, upgrades and playing options lined up in the future.

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