There’s a show that I’ve unexpectedly really got into since the start of lockdown. It regularly moves me to tears.
I’ll tell you all about it and why I think it can teach us everything we need to know about fundraising in a moment.
But first, if you haven’t seen the show before, please bear with me and watch either or both of the little clips embedded in this blog to get an idea about the programme. I bet those of you who have seen the show will be watching the clips again in any case.
Meet you back here.
Can Dom repair this Georgian peat bucket, a wedding present that represents many happy times together for Tony and Jenny?— The Repair Shop (@TheRepairShop) June 8, 2020
“Our first and last antique together.” ❤️ #TheRepairShop pic.twitter.com/Yv7REVPzc0
Did you shed a tear?
So the basic premise is that people bring their treasured, broken objects, mementos and heirlooms to The Repair Shop in the hope that its talented crafts people can restore them to their former glory.
And I wasn’t alone in stumbling across the show at the start of lockdown. The ‘sleeper hit’ has become hugely popular. I think it might be because of its feelgood element, or perhaps because in these strange and uncertain times, many of us don’t need escapism as much as a return to simpler joys.
And let’s be clear, my tears are definitely tears of joy on watching this programme. But why do I think it can teach us so much about fundraising? OK, here goes:
It’s about storytelling
A “programme in which they repair stuff” shouldn’t be compelling viewing. It’s only made so because we hear people’s stories, and what the objects mean to them. And within each episode, we have the “will they be able to restore it? What will it look like?” arc of the chosen objects.
We need to be clear that fundraising works best when we talk about individual stories, and what changes as a result of a donor’s support and our organisation’s intervention. This is how we make a connection.
It’s about love
What else could the stories about the peat bucket and the jukebox possibly be about? These objects symbolise the love the owners have (or had) for each other. What sums up your organisation’s love, or if not love then your care or passion? And how do you show your supporters that you don’t just appreciate them, that you love them for what they are helping you to achieve?
We fix, we repair and we restore
I’ve written many times before about the importance of a charity’s case for support. What is the “problem” (or need) to which your organisation forms (at least part of) the solution?
But The Repair Shop has made me realise that it’s more than that. We can make connections with our supporters by communicating how we can make the world a better place. Our donors, friends and partners can help us to fix, to repair, and to restore the world, or at least our part of it.
We are the experts
Frequently, the objects brought into The Repair Shop have been damaged by previous botched attempts at repair. But the collection of restorers they’ve assembled are clearly the best in the business. I’m very much a fan of regulars Steve, the clockwork expert, and Will, the wood restorer, but crafts people with particularly niche specialisms like pinball or jukebox repair make regular appearances.
My point is this: why is your organisation better than a supporter “cutting out the middle man” (or “disintermediation” if you want a posh word)? It has to be because you are the best at it, that you are the experts in your field, even if it’s as niche as jukebox restoration.
It’s about legacy
Watch either of the stories above again. They’re not just about love or storytelling arcs. For me, they speak about how we want to be remembered and how we remember loved ones. Many of the objects were treasured possessions from childhood. Others bring back memories of long lost parents and grandparents.
And then there’s the peat bucket and the jukebox (seriously, have you not watched the clips yet?), which have both come to symbolise love between couples going back to their wedding day. Upon restoration, they will be a gift beyond one partner’s death.
The connection with legacy giving or indeed in memoriam giving is inescapable to me. We often shy away from this form of supporting a charity. Maybe we have a British fear of talking about these things. But to me it can be so joyous and life changing, and this programme has reaffirmed just that.
What do you think about when you think about fundraising? I urge you to think about The Repair Shop. Think about love, restoration, legacy, and the joy of giving from the heart.