When I launched Adam’s Appeal I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do to try and make it successful. I didn’t have a master plan, I didn’t really have any plan at all. I knew I needed a decent website and thought I could also benefit from having a presence on the social networking sites. Beyond that? There wasn’t a beyond that.
My very first idea, and not a very original one I’m sure, was that maybe I could enlist Chelsea FC to help raise some publicity and awareness. Their training complex is not that far away down in Surrey and John Terry used to live in Epsom and had quite recently visited the Junior school attended by Jake and Jessica. I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask so I sent an enquiry via the club’s website and got a response back giving me an address to which I needed to write. I sat down and wrote a letter explaining a little of Adam’s illness and why we were having to launch an appeal. I never asked them for money; I asked them if there was any way in which they could help raise awareness for the appeal launch and specifically whether they could pass a copy of the letter to club captain John Terry, for the reasons aforementioned above.
A couple of weeks later I received a reply to my letter. It said they could not support us as they only dealt exclusively with their nominated charities and would therefore not be donating any money but wished me well. It was a bog standard bog off. Completely impersonal and clearly not addressing the specific requests in my letter. Money? I didn’t even ask them to donate a penny. I actually felt a little hurt at the time, though since I have come to realise that they must get literally hundreds of begging letters each and every day. Not that mine was a begging letter I hasten to add!
It wasn’t a very auspicious start.
When I was putting together stuff for the website I came across the letter and decided that with one or two edits it would be suitable to make available for download. I thought if anybody wanted to use it to send to other organisations or individuals then it would make their task easier. So up it went and I thought no more about it.
A couple of months later an email came in to say that a particular charitable trust had donated £5,000 towards the appeal. When I asked how they had heard about Adam, I found out it was the result of a letter sent by a former employee of a company related to the trust. This person has been talking about the appeal at a social gathering one evening and the suggestion was made that she should write to the trust to see if they could do anything to help. Consequently she downloaded the letter from the website and sent it to them.
A couple of weeks after sending the letter she received an envelope through her letterbox which contained a cheque for £5,000, leaving her feeling extremely pleased with what she had achieved. It may not have taken her very long to do, or required a large amount of effort, but if she had decided it wasn’t worth following up and had instead done nothing we would never have received a single penny of that money.
It’s just another example of how things happen in ways one could never foresee – and for every knock back there just might be an unexpected pleasant surprise waiting round the corner.
I didn’t feel so bad about the few quid it cost me to send that letter special delivery to Chelsea after I heard this story … it turned out to be a fantastic investment after all.