Reality Fund-Raising: The ‘Giving Through Getting’ Experience

When the key objectives for a fund-raising event show 98% of participant target achieved and 104% of donation target achieved, the success of the event is unquestionable. When those figures are placed alongside 89% positive sentiment on social media and more than 21 million total potential impressions on twitter, both the event and media tracking paint a picture of unmitigated triumph.

“The results were completely surprising,” says Oresti Patricios, CEO of Ornico Group, a Friend within the Champions Partner and Sponsor Line-Up to The CEO SleepOut. Ornico was responsible for tracking all media from 1 April 2015 to 18 July 2015, precisely one month after the inaugural event. “I have never seen media figures like this for any fund-raising activity that was tracked, nor for a brand that was launched at the media launch.”

Speaking about producing the Ornico Report documenting the media impact of the project, Patricios notes it is “little wonder The CEO SleepOut has earned the enviable title ‘South Africa’s most successful single fund-raising event ever’. “It seems astounding that in just seven months, The CEO SleepOut IP was already valued at R60-million.”

Ali Gregg, CEO of The CEO SleepOut, explains: “While reality fund-raising was an entirely new concept to South Africa – and should not be confused with cause marketing – it requires taking decision-makers, leaders and influencers out of their comfort zones.

“The efficacy of this depends on the efficacy of the brand, so The CEO SleepOut was created for the event and became the primary attraction for South African business leaders. Using their influence, companies that may not have collaborated before did so for The CEO SleepOut and its defined common cause, namely homelessness and vulnerable youth.”

The luxury brand, underpinned by an integrated marketing drive, was the engine that saw the C-Suite of many of South Africa’s top companies reach out to like-minded brands and others in their business orbit to collaborate for a cause they knew existed, but hadn’t experienced firsthand. The established luxury brand also resulted in The Project securing close to 50 brands as Partners, Sponsors and Friends within the Champions Line-Up.

In an interview on the night of 18 June, Adrian Gore, founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Discovery Group, said: “This is a unique idea. For the first time ever, you are experiencing some of the hardships you are trying to fund. It’s a unique opportunity and I am humbled by it.”

Rob Collins, COO of Sun International, said: “What’s most important is that we have brought together a community of people who can make a difference and create change.” Ran Neu Ner, CEO of The Creative Council, added: “When you get 250 leaders and unite them behind a cause, you create something that’s going to last.”

Gregg said The CEO SleepOut was designed as a luxury brand to attract these very people, namely those who are in the financial and influential position to effect broad change in South Africa. She also believes there is a considerable role for the country’s non-governmental organisation (NGOs) to play in dealing with social issues.

To ensure greater success, Gregg said seeing the NGO as a business and running it within the parameters of strategic corporate principles would ensure sustainable success for NGOs and non-profit sectors, and enable them to reduce their dependence on funding from outside sources.

“Sound commercial management, responsibility and effective measurement of ROI are vital in the business eco-system if brands are to be taken seriously,” she said. Stephen Smith, Executive: Sustainability and Impact Measurement at IQ Business, agreed: “With R8.2-billion spent on CSI in 2014 (Ref:, it is critical that the effect of this spend be assessed for impact.”

To see the figure in context, according to Herbst, Jeffrey & Mills, Greg (2015), ”How South Africa Works: And Must Do Better” (Pan Macmillian South Africa. ISBN 978-1-77010-408-2), South Africa’s Gross Domestic Product has almost tripled to US$400-billion since 1996. “The CSI spend a huge sum that isn’t always managed effectively. The same management approach could easily be adapted to the Parastatals in South Africa, which are often beset by a litany of troubles,” Gregg suggested.

“The creation of a desirable brand which raises consumer expectations and delivers on them by providing a profitable service, in the best interest of serving the community at large – noting particularly that the vast majority are impoverished – can be a stepping stone in moving our country forward.”

She highlighted the possibility and benefits of doing away with the “public sector mentality” and the opportunities to empower South Africans with tangible ownership in Parastatals by creating listed organisations that are governed by real, legal accountability and corporate controls that encourage sustainability.

– By The Philanthropic Collection –


The Philanthropic Collection™ is a boutique social enterprise,
where we tailor haute-couture brands for philanthropy.


Our appliqué is made up of global leaders, influencers and forecasters,
all creating conscious capital for humanity.