This year marks the 130th anniversary of YWCA NSW, and the organisation set out to celebrate by raising $130,000 over 130 days. Rochelle Nolan reports.

This year marks the 130th anniversary of YWCA NSW, and the organisation set out to celebrate by raising $130,000 over 130 days. Rochelle Nolan reports.

When the YWCA NSW began in 1880, Sydney was a very different place. Despite the changing times, YWCA continues its mission to help the vulnerable in society – it is simply who those vulnerable people are which has widened.

To help celebrate its 130th anniversary, the YWCA ran a campaign in the first six months of this year to raise $130,000 in 130 days. Despite falling short of its target and reaching only $85,000, head of marketing and campaigns, Nicola Reeves, says everyone’s generosity went far beyond expectations. “Importantly, we saw more first time donors through this campaign than in any previously, and also more repeat donations across the lifecycle of the campaign.”

“As the campaign ran across a sustained period of time, with plenty of touch-points along the way encouraging support, people were giving more than once, raising the overall average donation,” says Reeves.

The times they are a-changin – but the message stays the same

The YWCA NSW’s mission has always been to help society’s vulnerable people. Traditionally the vulnerable consisted of mostly women – particularly migrant women – whom the YWCA helped gain equal access to services, infrastructure and support.

Today, the YWCA’s focus includes helping vulnerable men, children, families and communities across New South Wales at critical times in their lives. YWCA works to provide people with access to support services to help them out of difficulty, and proactively minimise the chances of such difficulties reoccurring.

The 130 campaign included a number of events, such as family fun days, breakfasts and a comedy night. Reeves says the YWCA made a conscious decision to run with family-friendly events. “Our strategy is very much focussed around helping disadvantaged families and their children develop behaviours and skills to get through times of crisis and be strong enough for it not to happen again.”

As the need grows, so do the funds required

As YWCA NSW’s work has expanded to meet the growing need in the community, Reeves says funding has also increased. “We practice what we preach; we are building resilience in our funding streams through diversification just as we teach resilience in our families through skills and behavioural development.”

YWCA NSW raises funds in a number of ways including support from individual donations, corporate partners, trusts and foundations, government and increasingly social enterprises.

“Our hotels and fee for service businesses are critical revenue streams for us. Our campaigns are relying less on just direct mail and are becoming more integrated across the whole business, where everyone is involved and takes some ownership,” says Reeves. “A campaign platform might involve our corporate partners and our social enterprises, as well as utilise a more diverse range of communication tools, in particular peer to peer fundraising through digital and events.”

The $130,000 in 130 days campaign may be over, but Reeves says there is plenty more to come this year. “We have our annual Mother of All Balls coming up in October and of course the traditional Christmas campaign. We’re going to be applying the learnings from the 130 campaign for these events, so there may well be some changes to the way we do things.”