The BBC's Charity Appeals - a Post-Haiti Earthquake Update
Head of BBC Outreach & Corporate Responsibility
On January 15th the BBC broadcast over 70 appeals for Haiti on behalf of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC). Since then, hundreds of thousands of people across the world have raised money, and across the UK BBC staff are no exception, raising money through collections, cake sales and local events.
The total raised by the DEC now stands at over Â£70m. This is far more than most emergency appeals. Typically, an emergency appeal will raise Â£10-20m; the most recent exception being the 2005 East Asia Earthquake Appeal, which received around Â£60m in donations. And, of course, the 2005 Tsunami Appeal raised an extraordinary Â£300m. Lessons learnt from post-Tsunami disaster relief are being applied to the way agencies are now working in Haiti. Their priorities are moving from immediate aid to reconstruction and recovery: money donated to the DEC Haiti Appeal will be spent over three years, a longer period than usual.
The BBC's newest appeal, the BBC Wildlife Fund, is facing some interesting challenges. The programme supporting the appeal will go out on BBC Two on Sunday June 20th. This is a very different slot from BBC Children in Need and Comic Relief - typically a Friday night on BBC One, and a great deal of work is going into how to make the programme 'appeal' to a BBC Two audience. There's also the small matter of a World Cup match between Brazil and Ivory Coast which takes place at the same time, potentially splitting a family audience.
With four months to go, the production team is starting to shoot the films which will tell audiences how the Â£1.8m raised from the 2006 BBC Wildlife Fund Appeal was spent. Charity staff are putting together off-air events and promotions. The BBC's interactive technical team (ITACU) is looking at how the telephony and donation systems will work. There's new branding; fundraising packs are being assembled. The BBC Wildlife Fund will benefit from the experience of the more established appeals, but crucially, in the run up to the appeal, it will need to find its own distinctive ways to move and involve the audience.