Fundraising events

Numerous community events took place at Arnos Vale Cemetery during the year I was its Development Manager – a Spring Fair, Christmas Market, "Raise the Roof" gospel concert and regular tours.

The Spring Eternal event invited 'the great and the good' to experience the life of the cemetery. Comedian, Mark Olver, kindly persuaded his colleagues to perform free-of-charge. Both events raised money and, as importantly, welcomed new people into the charity's community of supporters.

Arnos Vale Cemetery Trust: Spring Eternal event

A 'gala' event toward the end of the four-year appeal  had been planned long before I joined AVCT, orginally envisaged as a top-notch, formal event for the 'great and the good' of Bristol, and costed at £21,000. Working closely with philanthropist and supporter, Lindsay Telling, we re-worked the event into an informal showcase of the Trust's community connections for a cost of £1,600, with sponsorship from local and national businesses and entertainers performing free of charge. 

The evening raised £7,500 after costs, doubled to £15,000 by the HLF.


raising funds, stewardship, charity, HLF

The event was strongly branded, and the event dressing was low-key (simple flowers in jam jars, dessert was chocolate brownies made by volunteers). The invitation, above, attracted over 70 guests including Bristol's Mayor, Lord Mayor and High Sheriff.

We received excellent feedback on the event and followed it up with invitations to a 'breakfast bacon butty tour' of the site.

To Kate, Thank you for such a lovely event - it was very enjoyable and interesting and we will definitely be introducing [our five year old daughter] to Arnos Vale soon. She will find it an amazing place to explore (as we did!). We are pleased to hear it was a success on the fundraising side - wow - £15,000! A credit to your hard work!  Unfortunately, [our daughter] and I can't make the two breakfast butty tours you have arranged. We are busy on both dates. I will keep an eye on your website and try to come on another one (or other events) in the near future - perhaps over the summer holidays! Kind regards P & M M

The two tours elicited a further £2,250 in donations. A little research into one guest's family allowed us to find her ancestors' plot and include it on the tour: she gave a generous amount and has promised to introduce her family and keep in touch with AVCT. The tours also brought about interest from potential 'ambassadors' keen to be involved in fundraising and development activities and a connection to a valuable network of landscape volunteers.

Hello Kate, Sorry I dashed off without paying/doing etc. I will see you at Phil Hammond [comedy fundraiser – see below]. [Friend] and I are going to catch up about how we can best help. You so inspired me. See you soon. Thank you, VO



Arnos Vale Cemetery Trust: comedy fundraiser

I worked with stand-up comedian and TV warm-up artist Mark Olver to put on two comedy fundraiser gigs in Arnos Vale's 100-seater Anglican Chapel. Well-connected in the comedy world, Mark was able to ask Dr Phil Hammond and Stuart Goldsmith to perform free-of charge. We have since talked about an annual comedy festival to raise funds and help put Arnos Vale 'on the map'. The two nights raised £2,500 (£5,000 HLF-matchfunded) from ticket sales, a bucket collection and the bar which was run by the ever-supportive Friends of Arnos Vale Cemetery.

Importantly the events engaged a new audience: attendees included guests who had been introduced to AVCT through April's Spring Eternal event; postcode analysis showed a large number were drawn from outside AV's usual, local area of support. A quick show of hands at Dr Phil's gig showed that around 5% of the audience had come primarily to support Arnos Vale's fundraising efforts, and that 25–30% had never before visited the site.

mark olver, comedy, fundraising, charityThis was the final fundraising effort of the four-year campaign, my one-year contract ended in July 2016. Arnos Vale Cemetery Trust raised £297,205 (doubled to £594,410).