Captain Tom was an inspiration to many. Charities can learn plenty from his remarkable fundraising efforts
Captain Tom Moore passed away on 2 February 2021, after testing positive for COVID-19. He leaves behind a profound and lasting legacy. The 100-year-old was an inspiration to many, including those in the charity sector.
Captain Tom’s fundraising efforts have been well-documented. During the first lockdown in 2020, the Army veteran won the hearts of the nation by attempting 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday at the end of April. Captain Tom set himself a modest target of raising just £1000.
“One small soul like me won’t make much difference…I hope that whatever it turns out to be will be useful,” Captain Tom said in one of his first interviews.
Local TV and radio heard about Captain Tom’s fundraising effort, which led to wider national coverage. Social media exploded with support and admiration, regularly linking to his fundraising page, which attracted new donors. Captain Tom was trending – and I mean really trending.
His Twitter profile quickly gained the attention of more than 100k followers and has since grown to more than 350k. Hashtags, such as #Walkwithtom, graced the top of trends lists across social media platforms, generating further interest and attracting even more donors.
Captain Tom had an ingredient that is essential to successful fundraising. He captured the mood. During the first lockdown the mood in Britain was one of perseverance, support, and resilience.
We clapped for the NHS every week, showing our own small acts of solidarity. We admired the nurses and doctors, the carers and key workers who proved heroic when we needed them most. We tried to support friends, family, and the wider community in small and important ways.
Captain Tom’s fundraising efforts captured that spirit. He demonstrated his own courage through the simple act of walking. And the community of Britain in turn showed their support.
By his 100th birthday, Captain Tom had slightly surpassed his target of £1000. He raised more than £32 million from more than one-and-a-half million global donors, breaking a Guinness World Record.
Several others joined the campaign, adopting fundraising efforts linked to his name. An eight-year-old schoolgirl from Port Talbot, for example, rallied children across the country to make birthday cards for Captain Tom. Others joined in, too, sending physical and virtual birthday cards and donating funds.
Captain Tom received more than 125,000 birthday cards. And Davies, with the help of other people across the country, raised thousands for charities.
Captain Tom’s fundraising did not stop there. After a knighthood, an RAF flypast to mark his centenary, and a personal greeting from the Queen, Tom took to music. He joined the NHS Voices of Care Choir and Michael Ball to cover a rendition of the Gerry and the Pacemakers hit, ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’.
Captain Tom opens the song, as the faces of the choir appear on a videoconferencing channel, with everyone swaying side to side. Clips of Captain Tom’s now-famous walk play in the background, as the choir and Michael Ball join him singing.
It was an appropriate choice of song, again meeting the mood of the moment, the spirit of comradery and solidarity that was particularly important over the festive period.
The charity single, released to raise money for the NHS, racked up combined chart sales of more than 82,000 units. It became the fastest-selling single of 2020 and raised millions for our NHS.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the song broke another Guinness World Record. Captain Tom became the oldest ever artist to claim the UK number one spot.
When asked about the single’s success, Captain Tom remained typically humble. “My grandchildren can’t believe I am a chart-topper,” he said. “We’re in this together and I am forever grateful for your support.”
Captain Tom exemplified everything good about fundraising. He embraced the lockdown spirit of perseverance and resilience and demonstrated the strength of simple acts.
His legacy will serve as a reminder of the power of digital communication to amplify one man’s efforts, as well as fundraising’s ability to transform individual work into part of a greater endeavour.
Captain Tom was an inspiration. He raised funds for important causes and utilised the strength of community. He used his new-found influence for good, picking the right moments to appeal to generous donors who supported him, as he supported others.
In a statement following his death, his daughters, Hannah Ingram-Moore and Lucy Teixeira, said: “The last year of our father’s life was nothing short of remarkable. He was rejuvenated and experienced things he’d only ever dreamed of. Whilst he’d been in so many hearts for just a short time, he was an incredible father and grandfather, and he will stay alive in our hearts forever.”