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Grantham-organised Rotary Global Swimarathon wins UK fundraising award

By kay_kelly  |  Posted: October 10, 2012

Celebrating (l-r) Roger Graves, Rotary Global Swimarathon chairman, Mukesh Malhora, past district governor Rotary London region, Paul Wilson, Rotary Club of Grantham

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The Grantham-organised Rotary Global Swimarathon has won a UK fundraising award.

The swimarathon campaign was announced as the Best Use of Facebook category winner, in the first Blackbaud Digital Fundraising Awards in association with UK Fundraising, at a special ceremony last night.

Rotary Club of Grantham's Paul Wilson, who spearheaded the campaign, told granthampeople today: "I am ecstatic - not only is this the first purely digital fundraising awards in the UK but we polled over 3,000 of the 8,000 public votes received by the 16 shortlisted organisations up for awards.

"We received votes from 46 different countries thanks to a Facebook campaign for the Facebook campaign!

"We also came away from the awards ceremony with some great ideas and some excellent contacts to follow up."

Club vice-president Kevin Lawry said he was 'absolutely delighted' about the win.

"When Paul joined Rotary Club of Grantham he brought with him the idea of using new technology.

"This global event took off because Paul went on Facebook."

For more than 23 years the Rotary Club of Grantham held an annual Swimarathon, raising over £560,000 for local charities.

"This year, being Olympic year, rotarian Roger Graves had the idea of going global with the event - and to try and break a Guinness world record.

"The idea started to catch on slowly with other clubs, but when Paul got involved and publicised it on Facebook it began to grow momentum - then it just exploded," added Mr Lawry.

The club embarked on a vigorous 10-month Facebook campaign - using videos, pictures and regular updates - getting Likes and support from rotary clubs across all six continents.

The activity was organised and co-ordinated by a core team of just three people, without spending any of the club's money on publicity.

On Saturday February 25th this year, at 12noon GMT, more than 5,000 people lined up in simultaneous events organised by 112 rotary clubs in 23 countries.

They all swam in the exact same hour, whatever the local time of day, and took part in what was officially recorded by Guinness World Records as the biggest global simultaneous charity swimming event.

Of the 112 clubs that took part worldwide, at least 95 of them were initially engaged and involved in the event solely through the use of Facebook.

Worldwide fundraising from the event in aid of 'End Polio Now' exceeded £65,500 and the global awareness of Rotary International's 27-year campaign to eradicate Polio was greatly increased. The amount raised was enough to pay for some 200,000 vaccinations.

The Blackbaud Digital Fundraising Awards 2012 celebrate the people and organisations that use digital tools to fundraise. Rotary Global Swimarathon was shortlisted by a panel of digital gurus and voted for by the public.

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  • RotarySwim  |  October 10 2012, 9:44PM

    Thank you to the people of Grantham for voting for us we really appreciate it. Now that you have an interest why not join in the local Rotary Swimarathon taking place 1st - 3rd Feb 2013. Over the past 23yrs we have raised over £560,000 for local charities an deserving causes and in Feb 2012 we raised £45,000!! So come on you know you can do it - just 6 people in a team swimming at your own pace for 55mins so go on visit http://tinyurl.com/8c5237g