October 5, 2022


Melts In Your Technology

The power of cause-related events in transforming mental health through lived experience advocacy


Over the past decade fundraising events have been transformed from small-scale, community-driven events into profound national events with extensive reach and ambitious fundraising targets that result in raising critical funds to bolster not-for-profit organisation’s services.

But, in a competitive marketplace, standing out from the fundraising crowd, connecting with donors and driving acquisition in a noisy market can be a challenge in itself. In 2022, not-for-profit entities operate in the same competitive environment as for-profit companies.

This is why, in the era of COVID-19, cause-related fundraising events have become such a formidable and effective fundraising force, especially in the mental health sector. Not only do cause-related events generate monetary funds but they exist to promote the cause of an organisation, create emotional connection and community, and give a voice to those with lived experiences who might be otherwise unheard. Ultimately, cause-related fundraising has evolved into a three-fold model that drives acquisition, awareness and widespread support all in one.

Today, 1 in 4 young people in Australia are currently experiencing a mental health difficulty and sadly 70% of those who need help don’t get it. Suicide remains the leading cause of death for young people in Australia and in 2020, 454 young people in Australia died by suicide. This is why, this March, ReachOut has been challenging people across Australia to swim for youth mental health and suicide prevention with Laps for Life. Whether new to the water or a competitive swimmer, we have been encouraging people across Australia to jump in the water and swim laps at the local pool, hit the beach or take part in an ocean swim to save lives and support all young people in Australia to be happy and well.

Cause-related fundraising events, like Laps for Life, can provide an “in tribute” opportunity and renewed impetus for those who have lost someone in their lives to suicide, or simply be a way to acknowledge one’s support of mental health. They not only raise critical funds to ensure that organisations like ReachOut can continue to innovate and deliver their services but they equally aim to empower and increase public confidence when it comes to talking about suicide. More specifically, by thoughtfully disseminating information in the community we have an opportunity, as mental health providers, to reduce stigma, advocate for positive change, and raise awareness for youth mental health and suicide prevention.

Now in its fourth year, Laps for Life has been a chance for those with lived experience to “give” in memory of a loved one in a meaningful way or support someone who is navigating mental ill health, all while doing something for their own health and wellbeing – swimming laps. The inclusion of notable voices of lived experience in the fundraising campaign, such as ReachOut Board Member, Patron and Laps For Life Ambassador, Ian Thorpe AM, serves to lift up voices of lived experience that might otherwise go unheard. And, importantly, ReachOut’s digital engagement strategies and paid media strategy helps to overcome geographical limitations, drive incremental reach and amplify unheard voices in regional and remote communities.

As Australia’s most accessed online mental health service, ReachOut is committed to helping all young people be happy and well. We know that after friends and family, the internet is the first place young people turn to for information and support which is why ReachOut offers trusted online self-help information, peer-support program and referral tools that saves lives. Last year we provided support to more than 2 million people and, after a challenging few years for young people in Australia, there’s never been a more important time to get behind a cause like youth mental health and swim to raise critical funds and save lives.

It’s inspiring to see the continued transformation of the fundraising and mental health sector. By harnessing the experiences and expertise of people who live with mental health needs, we have an opportunity to build understanding, reduce stigma, improve knowledge translation and drive lasting change.

For more information, visit Laps for Life or ReachOut.com. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, or share your Laps for Life journey with the hashtag #LAPSFORLIFE.

If this article has raised issues for you, or if you’re concerned about someone you know, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or in an emergency call 000. A number of support services are also there for you on ReachOut’s urgent help page


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