As we near the end of the Win a Country Church Competition and both of its sub-promotions, the Audi TT and the BMW X5 Mini-Competitions, I have begun thinking about what comes next. I mean, DOES anything else come next, or should I just call it a day?

I’ve been in two minds.

It’s been a crazy, tense rollercoaster ride, for sure, but there are so many upsides and I have met–even if just in a virtual sense–so many fabulous people along the way.

I had pretty much lost my faith in people and as the years had passed, was becoming less and less interested in doing anything remotely sociable or social! But, Win a Country Church may have turned this around for me. It’s very clear that a large number of people have really enjoyed my mini-competitions, and the sillier and dafter the better!

So, could I use this as the basis for something new and fun after all the current competitions have closed? More than that, could something come out of it to help people who need a bit of financial or practical support?

The medium of Prize Competitions — legitimate ones, not illegal lotteries in which I have zero interest — is an interesting one for someone from a corporate background. They can capture the imagination and attention of many, in a short timespan. As a means to raise funds, it turns out they are great. Please don’t take that to mean that they’re easy or that they raise money without trying! This is by far the hardest exercise I have ever done in my professional life.

If I cease to market aggressively, the entries cease. I have no idea how promoters without marketing skills fare… probably, they don’t fare at all.

Of course, they also bring a huge dollop of flak, as every Promoter will attest, but I’m still sure that there are many new ventures that can use competitions as a way to bring fun back into people’s weeks and also, to give to benevolent causes along the way.

A little while back, I tried to give £5,000 raised from sales of BMW tickets, to a good cause. Well, that backfired! Fast!

It’s a learning curve, and that was just another small hurdle. The intent was certainly there, but within a few days of naming where the £5,000 would go, the family concerned had pulled out. I was all set to go along with the filmmakers and shoot a little promo video for them… a lot of time, planning and thought had gone into it. Nope. It was suddenly all off.

No hard feelings; I guess that’s the way it will often go; people who need help don’t always want to be in the public eye any more than I do myself. It can be quite daunting and– at times–horribly intrusive. So, I empathise! It is a tricky situation when you’re needing help yet want to have privacy. Indeed, how will the giving public know where their money goes, if people won’t be named and photographed? Luckily, it was ‘my’money I was giving, by and large. 

But, it did rather make me rethink the business model and leave me temporarily deflated, as I hadn’t imagined it to be so damned tough finding someone deserving to give money to.

I can’t collect funds on behalf of the needy, if the needy just won’t want to be identified–unless, of course, it’s within the remit of a charitable organisation. And I can’t set up a charity within an existing competition as that merely muddies the waters of what on earth I am running here. 

So, for now, I have had to pull back on any giving aspect. But that doesn’t mean I won’t re-think it and approach it from a different angle, when Win a Country Church is done and dusted. The cogs have been whirring.

I am working on an outline business plan for a competitions-based company that will be great fun week-to-week for my entrants, but also will help those who fall on hard times. How does that sound? Fun, daft, silly little competitions where there’s no target, but where x% of the sum raised–however small or great it turns out to be–is given as a prize pot and x% reinvested into future competitions, and a third % given to needy people who must make a mini-application for assistance.

I plan to start small and simple, testing the water with mini-competitions and low level entry fees, (£! – £5 maximum) and a weekly or at least fortnightly prize.No prolonging, no complexity, no faff.

The key will be in the marketing; who knows how small or large the prize pot will be? Much will depend on whether you like it and support it, but if you do, then it should grow and grow by word of mouth or social media.

Maybe in Week 1, we don’t get much past a few hundred pounds. But that could still give you £100 or £200 back for your investment of £1, and –all being well– pay an old lady’s shopping bill or gas bill. In week 2, could we reach twice that and pay someone’s rent… you see the business model here…?

The more I interact with entrants on Facebook, the more I see patterns of ‘need’ emerging.

People who are sick, infirm, who have fallen on hard times, or whose neighbours, kids or parents suddenly need something that’s out of reach….they are all represented in the entrants and their relatives and friends.

The only thing I will need from you is low-level entry fees, willingness, passion to help, and funding applications from people who need assistance, and who agree to be identified!

I will have to show where the ‘benevolent’ element of the money goes. That’s imperative.

As a result of earlier seeking out nominations of who needs help, and that falling flat after the nominees at first accepted and then declined, I’ll now need to hear from the would-be recipients themselves rather than from entrants. It’s all very well naming Mrs Jones who needs a new shopping trolley but if Mrs Jones won’t be identified and photographed when we deliver one to her, we can’t give to her. Trust will always be at the core of competitions with any benevolent component.

So, anyway–that’s the current thinking. 

The desire to move ahead and fund community and small-scale social projects via fun and innovative competitions, is why I would really like to bring the current competitions to a close soon, so they don’t all get mixed up!

I’d love to hear what you think. Would you pay £1 upwards for a shot at winning an unknown pot on a weekly basis… with a named % going back into community causes? It’d be great to get some chat going on the Facebook page (Group) entitled Win a Country Church Frivolity & Fun Group. 

I will start a thread in the next days… thanks for mulling it over!