‘How to engage with and give back to your communities’
Using the charity event ‘Miss Plymouth Sweetheart’ which I founded on October 2015 in aid of Derriford Children Cancer Service. I will tell you how I founded it and gives tips on how you can have a charitable involvement and engage with your community.
I founded the pageant based on a chance encounter with Michael Wallis in 2012. He was working for the removal service moving my belongings from my university to my placement year accommodation. We got chatting and he told me about his daughter, Emilia’s battle with childhood cancer – Leukaemia https://www.facebook.com/emulatingemiliatrust).
I was touched by his resilience and inspired. I promised there and then that on my return to Plymouth I would support the children’s cancer service by raising funds and awareness.
This was the start of Miss Plymouth Sweetheart. On my placement year, I was involved with other charities and organised several events as Miss Sussex. I did boot camps for SANDS, organised a charity fashion show, undertook a sponsored silence for Rainbow and half marathon for British heart foundation and volunteered with youth offenders to name a few.
All these experiences helped me build my skill set and I was able to overcome setbacks and I learnt how better execute successful charity events.
On my return to university, I began meeting with the Derriford Children Service fundraising team to understand how I could be of service.
TIP 1: know what is already being done and understand the team’s experience and most importantly learn from it.
You don’t want to alienate people and you want to build on the existing foundations.
From my time with them, I learnt about their needs and started to plan how I could help them achieve their fundraising and outreach goals.
TIP 2: do what you know or at least attend similar events and understand what kind of event you are trying to deliver and to who. As a beauty queen, I know pageants and as a judge and attendee at other pageants I understood what worked and what didn’t.
Then I began to plan the fixed options such as; date, venue, pageant rules and guidelines, finding contestants, promoting the event, getting the support and sponsorships of local business and building a network.
TIP 3: Don’t underestimate this process. This is labour intensive and involves a lot of time and attention to detail. Therefore, allow sufficient planning to make your event a success.
I undertook this when completing my masters degree and I learnt the true meaning of time management.
TIP 4: Speak to people in person, do the leg work.
I would say when you are looking for event sponsors, venues, raffle prizes and business support, emails are great but nothing beats getting out there and meeting people and having conversations in person. It allows you to show your commitment and relate to the businesses on a human level which I think garners a better response.
Through this I met people and businesses who got behind the cause. For example Grosvenor Casino Plymouth let me hold the event in their venue for free!
On the day of the events. Stay calm, have a clear vision and written plan of the programme. So clipboard at the ready! But be able to adapt and solves issues as they do arise.
TIP 4: Debrief each event and pull it apart for points for improvements. This will have you getting better each time.
In the first year of Miss Plymouth Sweetheart, we raised £ 1,405.29. However, the most recent event raised £3,539.06.
TIP 5: Start small and get bigger. They are so many useful lesson you gain when planning smaller events and these are applicable when you plan larger events.
Also, I would add that it is useful to create a clear blueprint and information pack for your events so they can be repeated with ease. This was essential for my event as I knew I would be leaving university and that part of the world and would need to make the events repeatable for the pageant winners. This was my event model to ensure the events ran annually. The annual winner would lead the running of the next event with my support and blueprint and over time the alumni of Miss Plymouth Sweetheart title holders.
Most importantly, find something you care about and do it! Passion makes the hard work and commitment well worth it.
TIP 6: Just do it. Get involved. It could be anything from volunteering at an old peoples home, a youth club, a homeless shelter. Just do something, engage with people, learn, live and do better than yesterday.
Let’s do better each day
If you fear critics. Just remember Theodore Roosevelt’s Citizen in the republic speech;
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
With those great words, I encourage you to just do it and I look forward to seeing all your community engagement, fundraising and charity events.
Feel free to contact me for any further guidance and volunteering and charity involvement.
Check out the vlog of the Miss Plymouth Sweetheart pageant 2015 here:
Stay Joyful xx