Thank you to everyone involved in Surfers In A Dress 2013
Surfers In A Dress (SIAD) is a charity event, founded by Greg Beazley in 2012, whereby participants wear a school dress and go surfing to raise awareness and funds for girls’ education in Sierra Leone, Africa
One Girl, an Australian based charity, tackles the serious issue of education being inaccessible to many girls in Sierra Leone
Most girls born in West Africa are more likely to be sexually assaulted than to attend high school
In its second year running, Surfers In A Dress 2013 (SIAD13) was a big success.
The strategic objective for SIAD13 was to build awareness and momentum to grow the event for 2014
SIAD was featured in/on:
The Daily Telegraph and their entire News Network (online and offline)
Channel 7’s Sunrise Program
Marketing initiatives involved generating engagement and donations through Facebook messaging, status updates and memes
Total donations amounted to over $12,470 (almost 25% above the target of $10,000)
Over 41 girls in Sierra Leone now have access to attend school for a year
The event was held at Bondi Beach on Saturday 19th of October and attracted approximately 35 people
SIAD13 has been a satisfying experience knowing that so many lives have/will improve for the better. SIAD will continue to grow as an annual event on Bondi Beach each year, helping even more girls in Sierra Leone, by providing them with an education.
Donation Target $
% Over Target
Attendee Target #
Event Attendees (in dresses)
45 (31 in dresses)
40 (35 in dresses)
85 (66 in dresses)
Here is an overview of the strategy and plan:
Media & PR
SIAD was fortunate enough to leverage One Girl’s PR Agency, The Bravery, and Stef Kubowicz was the girl who helped gain the awareness we needed.
Interview with David Dixon, co-founder of One Girl.
Partnerships were used to amplify the cause of SIAD and to develop a sense of ‘local community’ with the event. One key learning with this is that most people and businesses are keen to get on board and support in some way. However, most of the time support was received in terms of providing their services (such as a venue), as opposed to providing any sort of monetary value.
A big thanks to all of the partnerships made in the lead up to the event:
Datarati: contributed $500 as part of their Awesomearati initiative, which helped cover all costs in the setup of the event.
OneWave: Grant Trebelico and Sam Schumacher, founders of @OneWaveIsAllItTakes are two legends raising awareness of mental illness. They helped spread the word through their large social network and encouraged several people to attend the event.
Sebel Pier One Hotel: David Lowe, former Director of Marketing & Sales of the Sebel Pier One Hotel, donated $300 and was pivotal in the vision of how SIAD will grow in the future.
QBE Insurance: Jarrod Paul, Senior Underwriter at QBE, was the main man behind organising the public liability insurance for the event. Without Jarrod’s support, the event simply would not have happened.
Porch & Parlour: the small hipster cafe in North Bondi, pledged to support by donating $2 from everyone’s bill who quoted “Surfers In A Dress”. Unfortunately, the message was not communicated to the staff on the day and therefore no donations were collected.
The Bucket List: reserved a spot for the SIAD after-party. However, again, despite pledging to donate to the team, it never eventuated.
Sejuiced: is a funky juice bar at the Bondi Pavilion. They had pledged to donate 5% of every juice or smoothie sold when someone quoted “Surfers In A Dress”. Conversions (if any) were not tracked and therefore no donations were gained.
Bondi Vixen: Vix Erber of Bondi Vixen was immensely supportive donated a 60 minute Vixen MAX Class boot camp.
Facebook was the primary medium used to promote SIAD due to the ease of accessing a large network of people in the shortest possible time. The main call to action in marketing messages was to encourage people to RSVP for the Facebook event. The secondary message was to encourage donations.
It’s worth mentioning that my personal Facebook account was used for most of the marketing because of the larger network of friends. The challenge with using Facebook pages for this purpose is that Facebook require you to use paid ads to gain anything more than poor reach to your fan base.
Most people tend to dislike receiving typical Facebook Message blasts from people asking for donations. It’s perceived as a lazy way to communicate your cause or generate donations. Therefore, before broadcasting the message of SIAD, a different approach was taken.
Do targeted messages to a smaller group of individuals generate more or less donations than generic messages to larger groups?
I used an application to download all of my Facebook friends (approx 700) into a csv file.
I split my list of Friends into segments such as; Immediate Family, Family friends, Adelaide friends, Band friends, Bondi friends, Colleagues, etc.
I wrote a generic message that explained the cause and what I was trying to achieve.
For each segment I tailored the introduction and closing sentence to make it more personalised and relative.
Lastly, I sent the final messages in a mixture of small groups (about 5-10 people) to larger groups (11+ people) and monitored the response.
The ratio of group size to number of donations favoured smaller groups (less than 10 people).
Those who you would normally least expect to donate would typically be the opposite and were the most generous people, and vice versa.
Those groups I have closer friendships or relationships with would tend to donate more.
Facebook & Memes
News about recent Partnerships or general News coverage would be communicated on both my personal Facebook page, the SIAD Facebook Event page and occasionally on my website’s Facebook Page.
When there wasn’t any News to share, memes were created to promote the event, drive donations, encourage engagement and build awareness of the cause.
Here are all of the memes I posted for the event:
Instagram & Twitter
An Instagram and Twitter account for @surfersinadress was created and generally used to post the memes and repost other people’s pics to generate awareness. Instagram proved to be a great avenue to connect with new people. Talented photographer, Tim Denoodle (@denoodle) was one connection made through Instagram who consequently attended SIAD13 and took some of the best photos of the morning.
On the last day before the event Nic Claase and I threw on a school dress and walked through the streets of Sydney during a busy lunch time, in hope of collecting a few donations.
Within 1 hour we collected almost $300. This proved to be the most effective donation driver during the whole campaign.
Lessons learned from the City Walk element:
Always do this in pairs – it’ll be less overwhelming for people when you approach them.
Only approach groups of people – an element of peer pressure appears in this situation, so it’s easier to double or triple your potential donation amount this way. Even better, approach a group of people near an open coffee shop or wander through an open bar.
Be confident in your approach – you’re already wearing a school dress, and guys in school dresses is odd to say the least. But, it grabs people’s attention, which is exactly what you want. Just have fun with it and people will have fun and feel more comfortable about donating.
Learn your spiel – before you take off around the streets, make sure you can clearly explain why you are raising money. Educate them and direct them to the website to take further action if desired.
The costs incurred during the campaign included:
Extra ‘Do It In A Dress’ School dresses for team members and others who attend the event in need of the “appropriate attire”
Public Liability insurance
Unfortunately, due to budget limitations, investing in avenues such as Facebook Ads and Promoted Tweets was not feasible for SIAD13.
Elements that needed to be organised for an event using public space (i.e. Bondi Beach):
Waverley Council Permit
Lifeguard to be on duty to oversee the attendees
Public Liability Insurance
Change the event date from 19th of October to 20th of October due to a clash with the Little Nippers event
Advice for others wanting to hold an event in public space on behalf of a charity:
Contact the Charity directly and request permission first (you’ll need this to waive any permit fees from Council)
Read your local Council’s Permit Policies (they are confusing at best, so make a note of what you need clarity on and email the relevant contact). Be aware that generally fees vary based on:
What type of event you’re having?
How many people are likely to attend?
Will there will be advertising material/signage at the event?
Will there be any equipment, such as PA systems, stages, etc? You may need to prepare a Risk Assessment Report with your application (this could be a major hassle!)
Will there be any Photographers? If so, they will need their own Public Liability Insurance in most cases.
If your event requires a permit, organise it with plenty of time prior. You should allow at least a month for your Council to process the application.
With awareness and momentum being the objective for SIAD13, it was important to ensure the event was well-documented, so assets could be leveraged to enable stronger engagement and greater momentum in 2014.
To make this happen, two photographers were enlisted to capture all aspects of the event.
Hover text that contextualise donation values help increase donations.
Focus marketing efforts towards the female demographic, since they donated 11% more than Males.
Publish marketing messages around 9am, 2pm, 5pm and 7pm.
Creating Memes helped create better engagement and awareness than standard text posts.
Highly targeted smaller groups of people are more profitable than larger less targeted groups.
Walking the streets of Sydney in a dress was more profitable than any other donation driver.
Move the Event time to start after 10:30am to increase possible attendance. Starting the event at 8:30am on a Saturday was too early to expect people to attend.
Don’t rely on Partnerships to donate money. Leverage their network and services instead.
TV and Newspaper appearances are more beneficial for awareness than driving registrations or donations.
Date: confirm the event date with the Council prior to announcing it. Due to the Little Nippers event being held on Sunday 20th, the Waverley Council would not approve a permit for the same day. Consequently, the date of the event had to change.
Public Liability Insurance and Council Permits: ensure these items are checked, approved and valid before hosting an event.
Costs: be aware and prepared that there will always be a cost involved when hosting a charity event. In future, seek sponsorship from partners as much as possible.
Video Footage: video footage of SIAD13 was lacking. For SIAD14, dedicated volunteers to capture video content will be required.
Media Planning: most publication print deadlines are set around March/April, so preplanning for SIAD14 is recommended.
Creating memes and managing an Instagram account were good ideas to encourage engagement and generate awareness of the cause and event.
Segmenting friends on Facebook and targeting them with more personalised messages definitely improved conversion rates of donations.
Financial investment into Facebook Ads and sell-able merchandise would be ideal to boost event attendance and awareness of the cause.
Hold ad hoc / one-off events in the lead up to the event, such as: BBQs in a dress, beach volleyball in a dress, swim at Icebergs pool in a dress. These things not only raise awareness of the charity and the ultimate finale but also raises money along the way.