Beacon was established to help to change the climate of giving in the UK; to encourage everyone, not just a few, to take personal responsibility for charity in the UK and to contribute.
The way Beacon works is to uncover and recognise extraordinary achievements in the world of charity. While those who receive a Beacon Prize may feel deeply honoured for this recognition, it is what happens afterwards that really matters. It is the publicity generated by telling the stories of their extraordinary efforts that creates wider awareness, and makes the rest of us understand just how much is possible.
Understanding how much some remarkable individuals have done encourages us all to do more. And each of us can always contribute more, take more time or think more creatively about helping others.
To whom most is given, most is expected. Some are rich, others not. Some have plenty of time or particular skills, while others have passion, energy and the ability to inspire others. At Beacon, we see so many extraordinary stories and we can understand from the nominations we are sent and our own due diligence, those who have achieved over the odds. The unsung heroes starting with only their own meagre resources are as remarkable and praiseworthy as the rich or the celebrities who sometimes receive more coverage. The very best of all of these stories deserve a Beacon Prize and their stories need to be heard.
This is how the "Beacon Effect" works:
As a result of detailed, quantitative research conducted by the Beacon Board of Trustees amongst the recipients of the Beacon Fellowship Highly Commended Certificate in 2003 (our first year), we can now report on the extent of the "Beacon Effect".
The volume and depth of response was overwhelming and came from all over the UK. Many added lengthy covering letters, providing us with much constructive feedback. Almost half (50%) of those responding told us they believed receiving the award has had a positive impact on the amount of volunteer, financial or other support they have received. Many told us it gave them increased courage to continue with their efforts. Over a third (38%) used the materials we provided to generate publicity and of these, 75% received media coverage of the award. An equal number did not use the material and some received publicity anyway.
The issue of charity awards and publicity revealed a double-edged sword. Many told us "it is inappropriate for someone involved in Charity to blow his or her own trumpet. Charity by its very nature is supposed to be selfless", but were nevertheless pleased to have been recognised for the work they have done and continue to do. And those charities that did receive publicity from the award found a measurable impact.
Whilst few (16%) were able to provide us with hard numbers, on average those that received publicity realised a 76% increase in their number of volunteers, a 97% increase in the number of volunteer hours, and more than a doubling (106%) in financial support received. By contrast, those that did not receive publicity realised on average only a 49% increase in number of volunteers, 73% increase in number of volunteer hours, and 57% increase in financial support. This is still impressive, but about half the rate of those benefiting from the Beacon Effect.
We were also delighted to learn that at least 7 individuals went on to be honoured with an MBE within 12-24 months of receiving our Certificate.
Nevertheless, the research also indicated that we at Beacon still have much to do. We must continue to increase the public profile of Beacon, so that receiving a Beacon award becomes ever more meaningful, both in the media and in the public eye.
"I suppose that on the whole I have been happy to know that whatever little I do has been sufficiently appreciated by a mystery supporter to the extent that an award making trust has seen fit to extend their recognition. And that makes a difference you know. A great difference. It makes a difference when, on a rainy day, I find myself driving out to visit those I support. It makes a difference when I ask for funds knowing that since my work is appreciated I should feel confident in my appeals. And it makes a great difference to know that my work has been recognised and offered some appreciation by a trust…which was set up to give recognition to the nation's 'unsung heroes'."
Kripamoya Das, Charity Supporter 2005