Channel 4 Marketing Crowdfunding

How Crowdfunder helped Channel 4 pull off its 1966 World Cup replay fundraiser


By Imogen Watson, Senior reporter

June 9, 2020 | 7 min read

Football fans dismayed by yet another Premier League-free weekend found solace in the airing of the 1966 World Cup final on Channel 4, which reached 2.8m viewers. Repurposing a moment of thrilling unity, the viewing was part of an epic nationwide football fundraiser for National Emergencies Trust (NET), which is set to be the largest Covid-19 fundraising appeal to date.

How Crowdfunder helped Channel 4 pull off its 1966 World Cup replay fundraiser

How Crowdfunder helped Channel 4 pull off its 1966 World Cup replay fundraiser

On Sunday afternoon (7 June), Channel 4 viewers were treated to a rare full broadcast of England's dramatic win against West Germany in the 1966 World Cup. Aired alongside the match, the full programme of 'Final Replay ‘66' included commentary from England's hat-trick hero, Sir Geoff Hurst, celebrity guests, as well as prompts to raise money for the NET appeal, which featured throughout the show.

Ahead of the TV event, Crowdfunder was selected to build a bespoke platform for the appeal, marking a first for the fundraising business. "For Crowdfunder, this is quite new," admits Simon Deverell, Crowdfunder's creative director. "We've been running NET's fundraising platform for a while, but in terms of our involvement on a TV format, this is our first foray."

The bespoke site – 'Do What You Can' – is on track to be the largest coronavirus fundraising appeal, and prior to Sunday's broadcast had already raised £66m for NET – a charity set up to raise funds from the general public in the event of a domestic disaster or emergency.

All money raised will be distributed to NET's network of grassroots charities across the UK, who are currently supporting the needs of those affected by the pandemic.

Aiming to raise £10m out of Final Replay ‘66, all donations made by the public to 'Do What You Can' throughout the Final Replay ‘66 show will be match-funded by NatWest up to a value of £1.5m. And unlike JustGiving, who came under fire for charging a fee to process donations to Captain Tom Moore's campaign, Crowdfunder has promised to donate 100% of funding for causes fighting the crisis.

On the amount raised, NET is yet to release because it is still gathering initial donations data from the weekend. After publishing that, it will wrap-up all the data at the end of June, with Final Replay ‘66 available to watch on Channel 4’s on-demand services until then.

1966 World Cup final fundraiser

'National treasure' content

UK society has been put to the test in recent months. As the country with the highest Covid-19 death toll in Europe, there has been little to celebrate, as people struggle to cope with life under lockdown. While unable to heal wounds, sporting events can be a good soother.

"Need your spirits lifted?" asks the ad promoting the Final Replay ‘66, recognising the mood of the nation. "Channel 4 is bringing home the big one."

"The World Cup 1996 final was a sporting event that unified us as a country," explains Deverell. "Right now, with everyone in lockdown together, it felt like an apt time to repurpose this national treasure content and add a fundraising element to the event."

Urging the country to 'Do What They Can' from lockdown,' the team was chancing that the game (which still holds the title of the highest ever TV audience in UK history at 32 million viewers) still held the power to attract a massive audience of viewers.

And it proved to be a hit, as the 1966 replay reached 2.8m people in total (just under 5% of the UK population).

As the match went on, the audience grew, peaking at 1.4m viewers (13.1% share) during extra-time. The average audience of the game was 1 million (959k), which is over double the average audience Channel 4 normally received at this time slot.

1966 World Cup final fundraiser 2

'Largest coronavirus fundraising appeal'

On track to be the largest coronavirus fundraising appeal, the team needs to drive donations to 'Do What You Can' among the noise from a million other charities doing similar work.

From the beginning of the pandemic, with fundraising events canceled and charity shops shuttered, charities across the UK have had to beg for donations.

And, in recent weeks, there has been a movement to donate money to the Black Lives Matter cause, with civil rights groups noting a spike in donations. A fundraiser set up by George Floyd's family has now reached over $13m.

Deverell appears unperturbed, stating: "Working with a credible partner like NET, who has the reach and access to the charities and the communities, has enabled us to be in prime position for receiving an incredible amount of support from corporates, as well as people coming together and raising funds."

To hit the target, Deverell says it comes down to TV production, pointing to the programming of NET appeal films throughout the TV fundraising event. While not involved in that aspect, he confirms that Crowdfunder was active on its social networks throughout the screening, to drum up traffic and awareness to the donation platform.

"But it's the broadcast that provided the traffic and appetite to pledge," he admits. "It works by pulling on the heartstrings and creating the right moments to give."

Lockdown restrictions

Considering this was new territory for the fundraising platform, any teething pains had to be fixed while working in lockdown.

"Although we have a robust platform, we did face technical issues working with a large television broadcaster," Deverell shares, pointing to the challenge of ensuring site stability, ready for an influx of donators, funneled by Channel 4's call-to-action.

Alongside technical challenges, the fundraiser involved a large group of organisers, who had to work together while in lockdown. To pull it off, the project relied on the collected expertise of Channel 4, Crowdfunder, Fifa, NET, and Fonix - a text to donate platform.

"We had a very, very tight deadline, which meant there was a huge amount of work from everybody. And none of us were in the normal structures where we all normal work," Deverell explains.

While the proof is in the pudding (with final fundraising results still incoming) the Final Replay ‘66 has proven to be an interesting fundraising alternative to 2020's fundraising events that have sadly been canceled for the foreseeable future. While TV fundraising events like Children In Need and Sports Relief are normally rare in occurrence, resurging TV figures might mean we see more examples of Final Replay ‘66 in the future.

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