When COVID-19 threatened how much we’d have to spend on providing vital support, we knew we had to fight back.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit hard last March, it quickly became clear that the virus would have a huge impact on people affected by dementia. And at a time when Alzheimer’s Society was needed more than ever, it was going to be extremely challenging for us to keep vital funds coming in.
What happened next was down to innovation, collaboration and determination, and of course the passion and generosity of our magnificent supporters.
In March 2020, our usual Spring appeal was about to launch when the pandemic took hold.
Knowing they had to act quickly, our fundraisers made the bold decision to pull the Spring appeal in favour of a new Emergency Appeal. This asked people for donations to help fund our newly introduced Companion Calls and other phone and online support.
The appeal reached more than a million people through the post, email, text, TV and social media. Planning and launching appeals usually takes around three months, but the key elements of this one were ready within a week.
‘Everyone worked with such determination and passion, going above and beyond to ensure that we had these funds coming in to keep Alzheimer’s Society going and supporting people living with dementia,’ says Becki Bednall, our Head of Individual Giving.
Memory Walk – where supporters are sponsored to walk for a world without dementia – is our flagship fundraising event. People would usually have come together in their thousands at walks around Wales, Northern Ireland and England.
As mass gatherings haven’t been possible, we instead encouraged people to safely complete their own walk with their household or support bubble on 20 September last year and 20 March this year.
Throughout the year, the Emergency Appeal raised more than £8.5 million.
‘Although people couldn’t all walk together like usual, we encouraged them to host their walks on the same date to help create some excitement around the day and maintain the sense of togetherness that people usually get at a Memory Walk,’ says Kay Rodgers, Memory Walk Officer.
‘We launched a new marketing campaign that focused on smaller groups and families walking together, to make sure that, even though the walks were smaller, everyone knew they could be just as special.
‘We also created a Virtual Memory Tree, where supporters could say who they were walking for and why, and read through the messages that other walkers had left.
The walks have been a big success so far, with over 17,000 of you raising a fantastic £1.8 million in September.
Many supporters changed their plans to help meet fundraising targets. One example was Arcadis, a design and consultancy firm who formed a charity partnership with us in January 2019. The aim was to raise £150,000 over two years to fund a research project at the University of Cambridge.
In summer 2019, around 320 Arcadis staff raised £85,000 by taking part in our Trek26 events, including a ‘Super Six’ team who completed all of them. Last year Arcadis planned to host its own Trek26 at Yorkshire’s three peaks, but this was cancelled due to the virus.
‘Arcadis recognised early on the impact of the pandemic, and that it wasn’t going to be possible to reach the target through virtual fundraising alone,’ says Sarah Greenwood, Corporate Account Executive.
‘We were delighted when they agreed to extend our partnership into 2021 and increase their fundraising target to £170,000, which means we have another chance to hold the trek event that could not take place last year.’
Thanks to all our supporters and partners, the Society raised millions last year to ensure that we can continue to be here for the people who need us most. In an amazing achievement, we were the second-most supported charity on the JustGiving online donations platform last year.
Trevor Salomon, whose wife Yvonne has dementia, is an ardent supporter of our work and was involved in our most recent Christmas appeal.
‘For me as a carer, it’s always been a no brainer that I should use my voice in any way possible to help and work with Alzheimer’s Society,’ he says. ‘They do so much to support the dementia community and more than ever funds were needed once the pandemic struck.
‘I’d like to thank everyone who fundraised and donated – your contributions will help sustain the Society’s very necessary services during these challenging times.’
What can you do to help?
You can ensure that people affected by dementia carry on receiving vital support.