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****Update 27th April 2012.****
Sometimes dreams do come true.
On 25th February 2012, over 4000 swimmers in 23 countries, 5 continents and 15 separate timezones swam 100 metres in Rotary Global Swimarathon. We have finally gathered in the totals and the paperwork from around the world and a new record for the most simultaneous swimmers in human history is about to be officially announced!!
But the most amazing part of all - around the world a total of £64,000 or just over $100,000 was raised in that 1 hour event - I can never begin to tell you how proud I am of making this happen through social media.
Our club have just won a national Rotary award, we've got Rotary Britain and Ireland and International right behind us for the 2013 event where we are expecting 50,000 swimmers, 1000 clubs to raise over $1 million and its set to continue for many years to come. I've found a whole new career in Social media event fundraising for charity sector and every day is a new adventure.
Life is short, but doing something you passionately believe in makes it a whole lot more fulfilling - I've found a way to use my writing / my blogging and truly make a difference.
The worldwide family of Rotary opened up my eyes to the possibilities, and there are so many brilliant service and community groups out there to discover. GO FOR IT!
Sorry I've been away so long, but it really seems a very appropriate time, today being 41st birthday to make a return to writing on this site and to share with you some very exciting news.
After 15 long but successful years in the IT industry, after much careful consideration I've decided to pursue a completely new career in the charity sector. As you may have seen from my previous articles I've been looking for ways that I could make a difference. Now I'm very certain I've found it!
Since January 2010, I've been a proud member of my local Rotary Club in Grantham, Lincolnshire, and this has truly opened my eyes to an incredible range of local and International Charity projects. Rotary International has an incredible 33,000 clubs and 1.2 million members worldwide, made up of professional and business people from all walks of life all dedicated to putting service to others above self.
One shining example of that is our club's annual Swimarathon event. Over 3 days, each February (thanks to support from local business sponsors) we manage to book up every lane of our local swimming pool. Teams of 6 swim for an hour and are sponsored, and all of the money raised goes directly to local charities. Last year alone we raised an amazing £46,000 and over the full 22 years the event has been run we have raised over £500,000. http://www.rotaryswimarathon.org
As 2012 is Olympic year, being hosted right here in the UK, we wanted to do something very special. So we came up with the Rotary Global Swimarathon. Basically, we've invited the whole world to join us on 25th February 2012 (closest Saturday to Rotary's 107th anniversary) to raise money for our global EndPolionow campaign http://www.rotary.org/endpolio .
Since 1985, where there were more than 350,000 cases of Polio recorded, Rotarians have worked tirelessly to raise many millions of dollars for and support immunization programs. Through these efforts, the number of cases of Polio has dropped to less than 2,000 and from 104 countries it now remains in just 4 countries - Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and Nigeria. We are 99% of the way there http://www.thisclose.net and have an unprecedented opportunity to make Polio only the second disease (after Smallpox) ever to be completely eradicated.
As the most IT literate member of the club, I've spent the last few months running a social media campaign on facebook http://www.facebook.com/rotaryglobalswimarathon and twitter http://www.twitter.com/rotaryglobeswim to get the event known across the world. Very proud to say the project has grown far beyond even our wildest initial dreams. We now have not one but two global event ambassadors. The incredible Penny Palfrey http://www.pennypalfreyproject.organ Australian Open Water Ultra Marathon Swimming world record holder, and UK Paralympic and World Champion Swimmer Fran Willamson http://www.fran-williamson.co.uk .
With just less than 3 months to go , we already have more than 30 clubs across all 6 continents of the world signed up to join us http://www.rotaryglobalswimarathon.organd are fully expecting the figure to rise to over 100 with more than 30 countries being represented. The amazing thing is that the world record requires every one to swim at 12:00 - 13:00pm G.M.T, which means that in New Zealand for example they are swimmming at 1am on 26th February, and in the East coast of the US there are open water swimmers taking part at 4 in the morning! We have schools, sports and swimming clubs , even triathletes lining up to join us, but the great thing is you only need to be able to swim 100 metres to be a world record breaker.
From starting out as a distant dream, by a small local Rotary club, we have managed to create an event that has captured the imagination of people all around the world, and we hope to make it a permanent fixture on the charity calendar.
Finally i'd just like to share with you a couple of videos all about the event. Remember you don't have to be a Rotarian to take part - we can help you with all the details. Come on in the water's lovely.
Penny Palfrey Australian event ambassador http://youtu.be/s387zfH2VIQ
Fran Williamson UK Event ambassador http://youtu.be/13Lm8sOAF4I
Swimarathon chair Roger Graves http://youtu.be/FQwNj76znQk
Goes without saying, all earnings from this article will go direct to Rotary International End Polio Now campaign. Thanks for reading!!
Woo! As this was my suggested topic, I thought I'd start the ball rolling!
With all the terrible news stories about the plight of the people of Haiti, I thought we could have a forum where we can share our fundraising ideas to help with this cause, and other causes close to our hearts.
I can't actually take credit for the following idea (that goes to a lady I work with) but it's proven to be so successful so many times over that I thought I'd share it!
A Bake Off!
***What you need***
1) Some people who like baking and are willing to give their time, money and skills to help a good cause.
2) A space with a big table to display the food
3) Card to write labels on each item, saying what it is.
4) Bits of paper and pens for people to vote with.
5) Plates, knives, forks and napkins
6) Tea, coffee and water because people like a cuppa with their cake!
***Where to hold one***
I do it in work, but this would also be effective in a school, community centre, church, or even your own home.
If you are holding this event with a group of friends or colleagues, you only need time to find a venue and email/phone round with details, then send a reminder, so it's not very time consuming.
If you are organising it for a wider group, you would need a couple of hours to make posters etc.
On the day, allow an hour set up and an hour clear up.
***How much notice do people need***
Give people two weekends' notice so they have time to prepare
***How it works***
People are invited to bake their favourite cake/biscuit/flan etc and bring it to where you have chosen to hold the Bake Off.
All items are entered anonymously
Those attending then donate a small amount (we usually ask for £1 - £3 max) to try a bit of each item.
Carefully tasting, each person then writes the name of their favourite on a piece of paper and submits to the organiser.
Once everyone has voted, the organiser counts the votes.
The person who has baked the cake with the most votes gets to donate the money to the charity of their choice.
***Potential issues and how to overcome them***
Nothing's ever smoothe is it? Here are some issues that might arise with this idea and how you may overcome them.
1) Allergies. Many people have food allergies so all bakers MUST make it clear if their item contains nuts, gluten, wheat, dairy. This should be written on the card by each item. I tend to try and make an 'allergen free' option so people don't feel left out.
2) As no one knows the charity that the money would go to beforehand, it can be tricky if the chosen charity is offensive to someone e.g religious charities can be controversial, as can animals. I tend to get around this by designating a 'theme' for the event such as: Children, Global Aid Relief, Local Issues, Cancer, Rare Illnesses.
3) Some people might not like to participate as they are on diets etc. So these people do not feel left out, you can always have a 'book box' sale as well. Most of us have got books we intend to give to charity, so this is a good way of including people and making more money! Books should all be priced at a minimum £1 donation.
We recently held a Bake Off at work for the DEC. The rules changed in that baked items weren't in submitted anonymously, and we all knew who the money was for. This worked equally as well, as everyone tried all the cakes anyway!
***Why you should try this***
I love Bake Offs as I think they're a great way of raising money whilst boosting morale in a team situation. Most people like a bit of cake and are willing to pay more if it's for a good cause. It's great fun seeing peoples' talents as well.
A lot of fundraisers can take up a lot of peoples' time. This idea is useful in a work situation as people can literally pop in for 5 minutes and try some cakes, then go back to work. It doesn't therefore require lots of time for participants.
Bake cake, try cake, raise money! Simple formula that really brings people together.
Try it! Then tell us all about it! We can start a revolution!