I’m ‘brand new’ to charity – in the sense that our charity is only a few months old – but I’m learning fast and I often find myself chewing over what charity means, to me and also what it might mean to others, not least because we wish to continue to make a difference.
The proverb “Charity begins at home” is well known; it refers to a person’s first responsibility being to care for the needs of their own family and friends. In our case, it certainly rings true: Team Margot initially came together and then went public because of Margot’s plight. The effort was named by Margot’s uncle Ivor, given an identity by Vicki, organised by Margot’s auntie’s Nadia & Charlotte and supported by all our family, all our friends and so many others besides (just writing this makes me well up).
And quite aside from what we ‘show’, share & talk about, there’s so much more that goes on ‘behind the scenes’, from those close to us standing in to do the little things, like helping to provide meals, childcare and laundry at home, to providing emotional support and love and just all the general everyday stuff that we often take for granted and which during times of hardship are hugely welcome and so gratefully received.
So whilst it’s a literal truth to say that our charity began at home, the direction of travel has gone way beyond our home, our family and our previous network of friends.
And yet it still feels intimate and it still feels like family.
Yesterday was a rather busy one for Team Margot with two simultaneous events taking place in both Solihull and Surrey, one a donor registration event and the other a fundraiser.
At Oakhyrst Grange School, Emma Stephens set up a beautiful fundraising stall at the school fete. She later wrote: “It became obvious early on that sun + cake don’t mix and so I found many people were just happy to donate some money! As a consequence I can look forward to a couple of ‘leftover’ cake sales at my and my husband’s offices on Monday in order to boost my total !
Funds raised so far for Team Margot Foundation: £205 plus my company’s matched funds (£200) so £405 – and I’ll be damned if I don’t get this to at least £500 come Monday night !”
And then she says it, in her email summary, quite unprompted and entirely natural:
“The best bit was I got to chat to a lot of people about the work of Team Margot.”
We haven’t ever actually written or specifically said as much, but everything about what we do as a charity points to the fact that we value highly and attribute great currency to word of mouth. When people do this naturally, I believe that they feel a sense of purpose and as such they tend to feel better about themselves and about helping to make a difference. They feel that way because quite simply, they ARE making a difference !
Team Margot is about awareness and action. New potential donors on the stem cell register come from the dissemination of information & education. First, people need to know that there’s a problem, then they the need the facts: what they can do and how they do it. If someone is eligible to register, we believe that once they’ve considered what’s involved and the significance of what it means, the chances are that they will join the register.
Thereafter, we encourage them to tell others.
The little chats and mentions are invaluable. At times, word of mouth might not seem like it’s making a difference and it might not seem like such a big contribution (as opposed to organising and running an event, for example) but it’s the bedrock upon which our charity is founded and it’s the oxygen that we need to continue.
Because word of mouth feels good – connecting with people on a basic human level (and I’m not talking about social media) – then people will be more likely to seek to repeat. In their own time and in their own way.
For all of us, Team Margot is in our hearts & minds.
As I type this, my phone is beeping – I’m receiving updates from Lucy Clark who ran the Solihull donor registration event yesterday, which saw another 52 people join the register and another £530 raised for Delete Blood Cancer UK.
And yet, Lucy texts that she’s a bit disappointed (?!) and goes on to say “but hopefully it’s raised awareness if nothing else.”
I know that Lucy so ‘gets’ what we are about so I find it quite astonishing that she would write that she’s disappointed. People like Lucy are rare. This is the second donor registration event that Lucy has volunteered to organise and run herself (the first was in Plymouth) and it’s at least the third such event that she has attended (we first met at the Team Margot Taunton event where Lucy was a volunteer). Yesterday, there were more people registered than at her Plymouth event and Lucy managed to persuade ITV Central to attend and they ran a superb news item about yesterday’s event during the evening news.
The thing with donor registration events is: they don’t just happen on their own. There’s a lot involved ! Which means that help is required and so we are grateful when volunteers step forward and offer to assist. In itself, that’s word of mouth – these folk give up their day to help others join the stem cell register, so even before the first person signs up, there’s already a group of people who know what they’re doing, why they’re doing it and what it might mean. They need to make their own arrangements at home, so that a day of their weekend is free to help out. It’s such a generous & benevolent thing to do.
As a family, we try to attend as many of these events as we can (thank you for being there yesterday auntie Charlotte !), which of course is not always possible – but there’s deep rooted support that consistently emerges to help out, time and again. Wonderful people like Ally Davies, who volunteered to help out again yesterday in Solihull, amid a fanfare of silence.
For the avoidance of doubt, our family is constantly blown away by all your support – there are many fabulous supporters who I’m not mentioning in this post, because I’m only referring to yesterday ! – so, thank you so much again Lucy & Emma ! We are very far away from being even remotely disappointed.
And just to finish off, we also learned that yesterday happened to be Emma’s birthday – but that didn’t stop her from deciding to spend the day on her stall, telling others about Team Margot and how they can help.
Together, saving lives