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What gives conversations value? Taking the plunge into the Starlight Super Swim Challenge

As we embark on a new year, one of the most enjoyable parts so far has come in the form of our work alongside Starlight Children’s Foundation and their incredible Super Swim Challenge which takes place every February.

Our passion for relationship craftsmanship was well aligned with Starlight’s goals of re-invigorating their Super Swim base. Back in November 2022, our joint discussions led us to collaborate on achieving Starlight’s goals: Re-engaging those who had participated in previous years to take part again, and inspiring those already taking part and cheering them on to hit their personal and fundraising goals.

Campaigns such as these are multifaceted, and they naturally tend to raise the question - what gives conversations value?

Intuitively we all know that relationship building with our supporters has a positive impact but how do we measure it and understand it?

Qualitative measures

One of the best reasons for using a Telefundraising agency such as Public Outreach is you can collect and better understand key insights from the front lines:

“What I enjoyed most and learnt quite a bit about was all the reasons for why people are joining in the challenge in the first place. From learning how to swim, giving back to a charity that has helped them personally, getting fit, to simply just wanting to help Starlight. Some absolutely incredible stories! Inspiration at its finest!” - Emma

“I personally feel like the calls made a huge difference by simply giving that personal touch in a world where everything can, at times, feel so impersonal and automated. The responses from people by us calling them personally, made my day and theirs. Participants were so thankful and with this new-found appreciation it would spur them on more to share on their social media, get out there and fundraise. We were also able to give ideas about the other ways in which they could share their Super Swim journey to help raise more money which was incredibly rewarding.”

- Nicole

“The best bit was talking to the swimmers who had a personal connection to the cause. These conversations meant the most and I was so glad I was there to ensure they felt supported. I spoke to a woman who had only just learnt to swim in her 50’s, specifically so she could raise funds for Starlight. I spoke to another individual who lost his best friend to Leukaemia when they were 8 years old and has done the swim in her honour for the last 3 years.” - Kathy

The most incredible part? These conversations and anecdotes were not one-sided! Through the feedback and comments left on the Starlight Super Swim Challenge Facebook page, we quickly observed that the participants we spoke to felt the same:

“I got a phone call today from a man from the Starlight Children’s Foundation, who was so darn sweet and amazing! (I think his name was Riley, and if you are on this page, you literally made my day and sent my motivation through the roof!)”

This is just one snippet of some of the incredible conversations that were sparked all over the social media page.

Ultimately, what came through in all our feedback was the power of human connection. To cheer on a fundraiser to success in hitting their goals is incredibly rewarding for all parties involved. To recognise a participant's contribution and have them know that there is a team behind them is extremely powerful. It creates a ripple effect that we’re only just scratching the surface of.

Quantitative measures

The numbers also stack up. Across 14 weeks we did a mixture of Reactivation calling, Welcome calling and Motivation calling to a range of participants. In total we had over 11,500 conversations.

The 2023 Super Swim challenge saw a significant uplift to their retention results. Through the implementation of an integrated past participant reactivation strategy which included, amongst other things, an innovative eDM journey, telefundraising calls and rewards for returning participants – this year’s challenge experienced a 67% increase in the number of previous participants jumping back on board than seen in the last year.

On average 17% of individuals agreed to jump on board for another year and another 45% of people said they were genuinely interested and let us know that the phone call we made had made them jot down a reminder to register later once they had checked their schedule and could confirm they were going to be able to take part again.

Welcome calls also proved extremely valuable with us recording an 81.50% ‘Positive Interaction’ Rate and Contact Rates exceeding 54%.

The Challenge is now finished and Starlight has successfully raised $5million - their biggest year yet!

This is the work of thousands of incredible Australians taking the plunge and fundraising for sick kids in the hope that their efforts will bring a splash of happiness to their lives.

One of the most enjoyable things about being an agency that works with dozens of different charities is the plethora of experience and knowledge that you gather across a variety of channels. The Super Swim Challenge reaffirms our belief that we need to continue thinking about P2P events in new and different ways and how telefundraising can be used to test these ideas and achieve good results. Traditionally telefundraising has mainly been used to help cross-pollinate Community Fundraisers into the Regular Giving space - Let’s continue to expand this out and mix this up!

When campaigns are created with a strong sense of authenticity - the results tend to follow.

The motto of the Starlight Super Swim Challenge is, “When you swim for sick kids, Australia cheers you on”

And ultimately, this is exactly what we did and exactly why it worked. Personal calls were made, relationships were created and incredible people who are giving up their time for a cause they care about got a wonderful bunch of Public Outreach “cheerleaders” supporting them every step of the way.

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