I've been working with Oxjam Music Festival this year. Last weekend, UK wide volunteer teams' hard work culminated in Oxjam closing festival season in 60 towns and cities across the country. The Oxjam Glasgow Takeover featured four packed stages, a venue dedicated to showcasing up and coming youth musicians, the best in local music, live art, and a surprise acoustic performance from X-Factor's Emily Middlemas. Most importantly, every penny raised was passed directly to Oxfam to help eradicate global poverty.
Oxjam Takeovers are multi-venue festivals that literally take over a town or city for the night, showcasing local emerging talent and raising lots of money for Oxfam. Every year hundreds of music-lovers, all across the UK, organise local music events throughout the month of October. Since 2009 these one-wristband-access-all-areas gigs have entertained music lovers all the way from Torquay to Shetland. They not only raise vital funds, the events engage a whole new demographic of people, raising awareness of the lifesaving work Oxfam does.
This year, our team in Glasgow have more than doubled the fundraising target set by Oxfam and won the approval of audiences, volunteers, musicians and host venues across the city. Aside from the hard work of everyone involved, I credit the event's success to the involvement of big-hearted social businesses, who supported the festival and got behind our social ethos from day 1. This rise in small businesses, who strive to achieve commercial success without compromising their social goals heralds a different approach to business, with people and impact going hand in hand with traditional measurements of success, like profitability and sustainable growth.
When I took the concept to our first corporate partner, MadeBrave, it wasn't anything more than a blank page, but they got behind us, created bespoke branding and paved the way for us to approach other sponsors.
29 Studios and Glasgow Credit Union were next to get on board, the former providing creative space for us to plan the festival, and Glasgow Credit Union providing sponsorship for the warm up fashion meets music event, OxGlam, at the Corinthian Club, an event, raising over £1,500 for Oxfam.
BrewDog and Social Bite followed, the former ensuring artists taking part got a wee refreshment in exchange for donating their time to perform, whilst Social Bite - who donate every penny of profit to good causes, and 1 in 4 of the team are formerly homeless people - provided lunches for the team of 30 plus volunteers who were undertaking 12 hour days.
There was a real mix of companies involved, however they all shared a similar social ethos to Oxjam and were keen to donate time, money and resources into helping us host a professional, well-ran festival. Having this support really helped us deliver an outstanding event and the feedback we've had from all involved on the day has been incredible.
Whilst it's all about raising awareness and funds, the defining moment for me, was when a James, a homeless man asked me what the event was all about. When I explained that Oxjam was a music festival which raised funds for charity, he insisted on donating 50p to the cause. It was a real heart melting moment - I'll never forget it. It perfectly sums up the generosity and humanity of people, no matter their circumstances. I was thankful that I was able to give him a packed lunch from Social Bite and direct him towards the stores, where he can hopefully benefit from a suspended coffee and some shelter in the future.
Last year over quarter of a million pounds was raised from 60 plus regional Takeovers throughout the UK and this year the target is £400,000. Since 2006, Oxjam has raised more than £2.3 million for Oxfam. Proceeds from the events go to Oxfam to help fight poverty and improve lives throughout the world. As social businesses continue to grow, partnerships between charitable organisations like Oxfam, and companies who organically strive to make a difference could pave the way for doing more good and creating change, here in the UK and throughout the world. Oxjam's tag line, local music, global impact has never been more relevant.
Photo credits: Tartanzone Events Photography