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Spring / Summer 2019 Enterprise Articles

Suffolk Dog Day: Running it like a business

Suffolk Dog Day: Running it like a business

Entrepreneurship might not be the first characteristic associated with running a charity fundraising event but as Richard Cooper, Chairdog for Suffolk Dog Day argues, part of Dog Day’s success over the last 11 years has been down to the entrepreneurial spirit of its organisers.

“Risk is something all businesses face and their approach to it gives successful entrepreneurs their edge over the rest of the market, but in the case of Suffolk Dog Day 2018, risk hit in an unexpected way and tested the strength of the management team.

Last year’s event was due to be held on 29th July and in the weeks immediately preceding the event, the heat was building... literally! We were experiencing one of the hottest summers on record and in the end, we had to cancel the event for the safety of our four-legged friends and their owners.

Suffolk Dog Day is one of the major public-facing fundraisers for Suffolk Community Foundation a grant-giving body that supports the work of Suffolk charities and voluntary organisations. In the last financial year, the Foundation made grants to 705 Suffolk charities totalling £2.6m and in the last 13 years the Foundation has distributed over £18m to 3,000 local charities and voluntary groups and it manages endowment funds well in excess of £12.5m.

Dog Day has historically raised £50-60k each year and in 2017 it hit a record high for the day of £65k. This is a material sum of money for the Foundation and last year’s cancellation has left a hole in the Foundation’s income which the Dog Day volunteers are determined to fill this year.

The sort of sums raised by Dog Day can only be generated by applying a business approach to the event. Our income is generated from three principle sources, from the 6,000 – 7,000 paying visitors, trade stand income and the generosity of our business sponsors from around Suffolk and for every £1 given in sponsorship we can leverage it to generate £2 in terms of profit on the day. We recognise that our sponsors, whilst being philanthropic, want to see a return on their investment in Suffolk Dog Day and giving the businesses that support us full exposure for their involvement is something we take very seriously.

Increasingly, that exposure is coming on the back of a professional social media campaign and we recognise the benefits of giving our sponsors regular coverage as part of our ongoing blog posts, monthly newsletters, competitions and regular posts on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Entrepreneurship has been described as the “capacity and willingness to develop, organise and manage a business venture along with any of its risks in order to make a profit”. I would argue that the term applies to the Suffolk Dog Day team and has helped account for its success over the last 11 years!

We would love you and your business to join us at this year’s Suffolk Dog Day on Sunday 28th July at Helmingham Hall and we would be delighted to talk to you about ways in which you can get involved.”

Richard Cooper is Chairdog of Suffolk Dog Day and a volunteer with Suffolk Community Foundation. Contact him on sddchairdog@gmail.com or go to the website suffolkdogday.com

Sue Wilcock