This year’s spectacular has raised more money than ever at, £32.6m last time I looked and probably rising. But I suspect the real benefit is the massive educational value for people watching, particularly the young for whom it may be their first encounter with the concept of charity and the need for individuals to give because our government is not dealing with these problems.
This is why I am particularly impressed with Children in Need’s Heroes’ Hub and Heroes’ Handbook, which appeals to young people who are too old for the Pudsey Bear fundraising approach. Television is so powerful that this will often be a transformative activity that will create a precedent for future fundraising and hopefully open minds to question why children are in need, and what can be done to prevent this need rather than dealing with it once it has arisen or just ameliorating it temporarily.
Of course, there will be those who think “problem solved” or that all the misery in the world is either people’s own fault or a necessary part of life in some primitive weakest go to the wall philosophy; but because the show is about children, it is hard to maintain such thoughts when those suffering are children to whom no blame can be ascribed. It also opens up the minds of people to give to other causes, and we know that the key indicator that someone is likely to give is that they have given before.
Another aspect of this transforming process is that it is taking place right across the country with large sums raised in total from the North of England and the Midlands as well as the South-East. The other giving indicator we look for is ability to give at the right level, and normally I don’t believe in bottom fishing for small amounts that only make sense if the donor is ‘upgraded’ to much larger sums.
I would much rather concentrate on the wealthy who have become so much richer through the recession and leave those who are worst off alone, but here we have the case where it is obvious that these small sums are immediately combined into an extraordinary sum that will transform lives; and perhaps more importantly allows the heroes to participate, understand and hopefully become heroes for life.
That’s why Children in Need’s heroes are my heroes.
John Baguley, CEO, IFC