Orkney Friends of Palestine (OFoP), in addition to raising funds for the general work of charities such as Medical Aid for Palestinians, have for several years also run campaigns to raise money for very specific projects providing support for Palestinians.

For example, in 2013-2014, OFoP aimed to raise the £4,000 needed to provide 1000 olive tree saplings to West Bank farmers whose trees had been destroyed or made inaccessible by Israeli settlers or the Israeli authorities. In fact, £4,300 was raised and 1075 trees provided (via Zaytoun, a Community Interest Company that markets Palestinian produce in the UK).

Focussing money-raising activities on a specific target such as this is very definitely motivating not only to the regular supporters of OFoP but also to many members of the general public who know exactly what worthwhile benefit will result from the money they donate. Specifically, every £4 paid for 1 more olive tree sapling.

When seeking a similar project for 2014-2015 in Gaza, since previous OFoP campaigns had targeted the West Bank and also a Bedouin village in the Naqab (Negev), on-line research encountered the UK-registered charity Hope and Play which financed children’s summer camps in Gaza. An email then elicited a warm, enthusiastic and informative response from one of the founders of Hope and Play, whereby we learned that these two-week summer camps normally catered for 150 children and cost £20 per child.

As with the earlier olive tree campaign, we decided to go for a very definite target and aim to raise the £3,000 needed to completely fund a summer camp in May 2015.

In actual fact, the response from OFoP supporters and from members of the general public was so good that £6,000 was raised, enough to fund two two-week camps, each for 150 children.

The magnificent response to the OFoP Hope and Play campaign was undoubtedly due in part to the Israeli assault on Gaza in the autumn of 2014 which we hope will not be repeated.

Other groups in the UK concerned about justice for Palestinians, and aiming in the meantime to do what they can to mitigate the situation, might be interested to learn how OFoP raised the money for its Hope and Play campaign.

The main sources of income were as follows:

  • approaching £2,000 came from sizeable donations of e.g. £200/£100/£50, mostly, though not entirely, from OFoP supporters. Almost all of these donations were enhanced by 25% through the use of Gift Aid and this, in turn, was facilitated by the setting up of an on-line donation site via a Virgin Money Giving page, which Hope and Play helped us to set up (note that the link is for the current campaign, not last year’s Summer Camps one);
  • over £1,000 was also raised by a Gift Card scheme. As happens with other UK charities, e.g. Oxfam, cards, provided free of charge by OFoP, could be sent to relatives and friends informing them that for their Christmas/birthday/anniversary present money had been donated to enable a Gazan child to attend a camp for so many days/weeks, depending on how much the donor wanted the present to be worth. In addition to a cover photo showing children from Gaza at a previous camp, the gift cards also provided information about the camps together with website addresses where more information could be found;
  • several hundred pounds were raised from raffles run at the two largest agricultural shows in Orkney, held during August, and at the annual Charities Christmas Bazaar. With entry at £1/time, a large proportion of participants, on learning that £2 paid for 1 child to spend 1 day at a camp, chose to give £2;
  • at least £1,000 was raised from very many smaller donations – £10/£5/£2/£1 – also sometimes gift-aided. As with the raffles, many people would put £2, rather than £1, in a collecting box, because of then knowing what they’d made possible;
  • a well-known local artist, having participated in a vigil for Gaza held outside St.Magnus cathedral in October 2014, decided to donate all the sales from a forthcoming exhibition to Hope and Play. With Gift Aid, this generous donation amounted to very nearly another £1,000.

With previous OFoP campaigns – for the Bedouin village and for 1000 Olive Trees – various events such as concerts or car boot sales were organised, each typically raising a few hundred pounds but incurring considerable expenditure on advertising and room hire as well as requiring a great deal of organisational effort. These were, however, not needed with the 2014-2015 Hope and Play campaign.

For its 2015-2016 campaign, OFoP is aiming to raise £3,400 so that Hope and Play can provide a 4-month course of psycho-social therapy for 100 severely traumatised children in Gaza. As with earlier campaigns, informing people that £2 will pay for 1 week of therapy (and £34 for a full 4-month course) allows them to see exactly what their donations will achieve.

OFoP’s fundraising page on Virgin Money Giving can be found here.

(This article was kindly provided to us by Bryan at OFoP in the hope not only to share the great work done by all at OFoP, but also to perhaps give some practical guidance to any other organisations wishing to do the same. Hope and Play are eternally grateful to the work done by all in the OFoP team – they have made a not insignificant difference to a few hundred children nearly half a planet away from the Orkneys who feel all but forgotten by the world. Thank you OFoP.)