British Gas Swims Britain

Swimmers make a big splash for charity.



The Event

British Gas Swims Britain is an event that saw 2000 British Gas employees, friends and family members jumping into the water to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity in 2013. Swimmers of all abilities took on individual, team, and family challenges in pools across the country and an open water swim. Employees rallied together, put on their goggles, and went the distance for a great cause; their goal—to raise a cool £1 million.

We spoke to Mathew Leopold, Brand Sponsorship Manager at British Gas to discover how.

The Challenge

It started with a vision to raise £1m for GOSHCC in 2013. Our challenge was to get thousands of our employees to take part in a swim so we could reach the ambitious fundraising target and make a real difference to the charity.

The Motivation

In the offices, we had totalisers and pictures of what our fundraising could buy so we could track progress on a daily basis. We would challenge one office to fundraise more than their neighbouring office. We put their target in terms of physical items that they could buy, such as beds on a ward. Their target would equate to 2 beds on the children’s ward. By putting a concrete objective on people, rather than just saying “you need to raise 50 quid” we gave teams something really genuine that they could work toward. That galvanised the individuals in the office, fostered a real team spirit and built momentum.

We wanted to apply a crowdsourcing model to the fundraising. Although an office might have a couple of hundred people swimming, sharing their individual target of £250 across an office of 1,000 people made it much more achievable.

How did ACTIVE's technology help you achieve your fundraising target of over £1 Million?

What we needed was a flexible platform that allowed us to recruit people. When we started putting together the event, we had a very clear vision of the internal communication plan, but we didn’t really know how best to set up the event. We knew that we required a flexible platform that would allow us to amend as we went along, to tweak and change as we discovered what worked and what didn’t.

Ultimately, the only way you can get people to raise money is to get people to sign up for a challenge. We needed to remove the barriers to get as many people through our sign-up procedure as possible.

We worked closely with the team from ACTIVE to make sure that we had a system in place that provided the best user experience for our participants. We needed to make sure the end user could go through the journey quickly and simply, and that they could understand what they were committing to. It was then a simple matter of conversion. ACTIVE’s registration platform removed many barriers and provided a user friendly sign-up process that maximised signups.

" was the extra support, the extra care, the extra attention, and the involvement of ACTIVE in our project"

What specific feature contributed to achieving better conversion

ACTIVE’s mailing list capability and incomplete registration feature. When people sign up, the first thing they do is enter an email address. If they didn’t convert and sign up, ACTIVE’s technology was able to capture that vital name and email address; this became a great asset to us. We were able to schedule automatic email sends to those that hadn’t completed the registration process, reminding them that they’d only done half the journey. That had a really high success rate in terms of conversions.

Utilising various insights we gathered from ACTIVE’s technology, we were able to send targeted and personalised messages to people depending on their area/ location, by the event they had signed up to, or by many different segments. Then, we could track the open rate and other metrics associated with the send to analyse its success.

In addition to increasing our event conversion, the mailing list capability helped us remind people of our fundraising goals and cut out a lot of extra work, saving us valuable time.

To be honest, it wasn’t just about the features; having proper experts delivering an area of expertise was completely vital to our success. To be able to tap into your broader network—something as simple as taking payments, for example. We are a massive corporate organisation. Taking payments is a very difficult thing to get right. To get the right sign-ups, to get the right approval, it’s very difficult. To be able to outsource that to a specific organisation that specialises in it and meets the requirements of our data security team is really important.

There are so many other event technology providers out there, so why ACTIVE?

We are far from experts at endurance events. We need people who know what they’re doing. We contracted ACTIVE because they’re experts at what they do. The product is excellent, but it was the extra support, the extra care, the extra attention, and the involvement of ACTIVE in our project. We didn’t just buy it off the shelf. ACTIVE held our hands throughout the journey.