Cassie Ponton, Fundraising Campaign Executive, gives us a behind the scenes insight into our largest Fundraising campaign of the year.

1. In a nutshell, what’s the steps that you take to organise the Red Puppy Appeal street collection?

Heavens to Betsy, where do I begin and how do I put it simply?!

The Red Puppy Appeal street collection is a nationwide fundraising event. We aim to recruit over 2200 volunteers, engage and collaborate with over 500 collection sites and other stakeholders. Not only that, we produce and distribute hundreds of material packs that include things such as bibs, buckets, stickers, etc not to mention design and develop collateral and content and beyond.

We develop an overview of key dates, key stakeholders, what we need, when we need it, how to get it, and who will be involved. We begin by working back from the appeal dates and nutting out everything working out a timeline. Not sure if all that fits in a nut shell. It’s a massive nut shell.


2. When does planning for Red Puppy Appeal start? Are people surprised to learn the extent of what goes into making Red Puppy Appeal happen?

Planning usually begins about 6 months out (initial conversations always begin with – HOW IS IT THAT TIME AGAIN ALREADY), but that is with a few key processes already in place – starting from scratch would be a whole other story!

I think once a person has a glimpse of the appeal and an idea of the sheer scale of the event, they are less surprised to find that it requires an enormous amount of planning, logistics, intricate detail, and time invested. This is all for not only our largest fundraiser but our most significant means of engaging directly with the wonderful New Zealand community. But there are always a few people positively dumbfounded at the depth of organisation and planning, and the little things you probably wouldn’t even know are happening in the background.


3. Organising a street collection must be hard logistically to begin with – but how is it organising it when we are yo-yoing in and out of Alert Levels?

It has definitely been a unique and challenging situation for me, but it’s been an interesting experience and an honour to be at the helm steering us through such a crazy time. With so much involved and invested in organising the street collection, it is definitely hard having so many things up in the air, but at the end of the day this situation is so much bigger than us and the safety of our volunteers and the public is paramount. We just keep moving forward and roll with it I think. It’s pretty amazing in the sense that you learn how adaptable we can be and how much people are actually behind the organisation and the cause.


4. What’s the best part of organising Red Puppy Appeal?

It would absolutely have to be working with all of the amazing volunteers and other stakeholders whose incredible passion and dedication are out of this world. I would be lost without them, and it makes it so much more special when everything comes together for this brilliant cause and it feels like you’re celebrating with a massive team! Also, I would be kidding myself if I didn’t mention the puppies. I adore the opportunity to see some of those extraordinary little guide dogs in training out and about on a collection shift!

5. And what’s the most challenging?

I might have an unhealthy approach to pressure and stress, but I don’t think any one thing is the most challenging part of making the street collection happen. Dealing with the inevitable unforeseeable hurdles that pose themselves in such a large project with so many moving parts is always demanding, when so many things are on tight deadlines that can impact a bunch of other project and campaign elements. The trick is just being prepared to react and respond and make whatever you’ve got work! I would say lately one of the bigger challenges has been navigating the street collection through a COVID environment, especially in terms of volunteer recruitment, overall safety, and contingency plans.

6. How’s the numbers looking for collectors and coordinators – are there any areas that you need help getting the word out?

We have about 1200 collectors registered presently so we still definitely need help there! Our goal is to have 2000 collectors hit the streets during Red Puppy Appeal street collection in order to raise the 300K needed for the breeding and training of more wonderful guide dogs! This means we essentially need more collectors nationwide, however a boost in Auckland, Canterbury, Wellington, Otago, and Waikato would be great! We are also in great need of volunteer coordinators for Newmarket, Timaru, West Auckland, Nelson, and Rangiora! Sadly, without the volunteer coordinator in an area, it is quite hard for the collection to go ahead there.


7. What’s your hope for this year’s Red Puppy Appeal?

My hope is that we can recruit plenty of volunteers and hold the safest, most successful street collection yet and achieve our fundraising goals to support the breeding and training of more guide dogs, and ultimately back New Zealanders who are blind, deafblind, or have low vision. The best feeling is seeing these street collections come together, and knowing what life changing things we can achieve through that.

To get involved with Red Puppy Appeal, register online.