Would you give all your clothes away or even walk across hot coals? How about jumping from a plane with NOTHING on but a parachute? Well, I'm pleased to say that there are millions of people up and down the country who are taking part in these wonderful and off-the-wall activities all in the name of supporting important charities and causes, both at home and abroad.
A fundraiser that encompasses this sentiment and caught my attention from the get-go is a woman called Eve who has given away every stitch of her clothing to charity in favour of wearing fancy dress for a whole year. That's 365 different costumes. For any fashion conscious woman, the prospect of giving away all your clothes and donning fancy dress would seem daunting- for me it certainly would - But for Eve, her passion for her chosen charity, Coppafeel, is clear for all to see. While she values traditional fundraising activities, such as bake sales or shaking a bucket, she felt that they were not enough to turn heads and do the charity justice. Whilst coming up with a creative idea was relatively easy, she says that sticking to her challenge has been quite tough. That said, she couldn't have failed to feel spurred on by the positive reception that she has received from friends and family, as well as strangers in the street. Her dedication to the cause has also helped her raise over £13,444 with 100 days still to go.
It also turns out, that despite common assumptions about "British prudes," we are in fact a nation of nudity lovers. Rather than dressing up, more and more people are shedding their clothes for the sake of charity. Not content with normal skydiving, one chap has decided to go one step further and do a sponsored skydive entirely in the buff (well wearing nothing but a parachute...!) He hopes it will increase awareness of the charity among first time donors and motivate repeat donations among existing supporters, even if it means publicly embarrassing himself.
Four men from Dorset have also come up with a tongue-in-cheek fundraising idea - 'Men With Wood'...! What initially began as a joke among friends has grown into a fully-fledged website that features candid shots of naked men with only wood related objects to hide their modesty. The website is growing in popularity and has even attracted contributors from as far away as Australia.
I do wonder what made them decide to really 'up the ante' and think outside the box. One explanation could be that the ever-growing number of fundraisers - there was a 12% year-on-year rise in new fundraising pages set up - and the diversity of charities have made it increasingly difficult for fundraisers to reach their targets. The struggle is also felt amongst donors who, whilst keen to give to charity, can find prioritising one charity over another both confusing and complicated. This is a shame as we are undoubtedly a nation of givers. 91.8% of people have donated to charity at least once, with 70% of people saying that they felt satisfied after giving money.
Aside from the competitive landscape it looks like we are, overwhelmingly, driven to do such wonderful things for such wonderful charities out of genuine love and passion for our causes. Nothing exemplifies this feeling more than the touching story of the couple getting married during the London Marathon. Paul Elliott and Laura Harvey, who are raising money in memory of Paul's dad, will start the marathon separately before meeting half-way, reading their vows and finishing the race hand in hand. Their dedication to the charity would warm the coldest of hearts and has even convinced the wedding venue to wave all costs.
The fundraisers' achievements show that you do not need to be a large organisation or have deep pockets to start a mass movement. Something quirky, different and that stands out from the crowd, backed by a little bit of social media, can raise a considerable following and significant funds.
When I think of the tens of thousands of fundraisers we see on the Virgin Money Giving website every year none of them are raising money for the sheer sake of it. Each and every single one of them has their own story. We can talk about trends and stats, and the changes to how people can donate, but for me, it's more about the passion for their causes that we have been fortunate enough to harness online, to allow the nation to support this legion of 'wacky warriors.'