CrowdInk had a chance to sit down (virtually) with the organisation behind Live Below the Line, Oaktree, to find out what the 5 day campaign is all about, how it came to be, and how it’s grown into the massive, global movement it is today.
CrowdInk: When was Live Below the Line started and what were some of the best outcomes of that initial event?
Anne-Marie Morrell, PR Officer (Oaktree): Live Below the Line began in 2010, the idea started as a backyard conversation in Melbourne between friends about how difficult it would be to live below the global poverty line which is roughly $1.70 AUD per day. Within two years, the campaign had grown to become a global movement, a $1 million campaign and had the support of Australia and some of the world’s biggest voices, Hugh Jackman and Ben Affleck.
In 5 years, we’ve raised over $9.1 million to support our partners to facilitate education projects in Cambodia, Timor Leste, and PNG. It’s a pretty great outcome across the board.
CI: How has Live Below the Line changed in the years since it began?
AMM: The landscape of the NGO sector is constantly changing, it has been really important that Live Below the Line are constantly challenging ourselves and thinking of new and exciting ways to make the campaign fresh and competitive every year. We’ve gone from being a pretty small campaign with no office space or budget, to a campaign that manages to pull in close to $2 million each year. This is largely due to the commitment and passion of the young volunteers we have.
We created a small change challenge, which is a shorter 2 day challenge catering to people who can’t commit to a 5 day challenge, for health reasons or just for a shorter dash!
This year, we were proud to announce challenge mode. It was a game change for peer-to-peer fundraising in Australia. Participants can tailor their challenges for the reward of a donation. Some are giving up their smart phones, others are letting a friend plan their menu, and some are daring to cut their hair or tattoo limbs.
CI: What is your best advice for participants undertaking the challenge?
AMM: Make a team. It is a lot more fun eating and making meals that are unfortunately going to be a bit bland and unsavoury if you do it with your friends.
Write a blog! Before, after, throughout – writing about why you’re taking the challenge is really meaningful for others to read and they might be inspired to sign up as well. Then you can invite them to your team.
Some very sensible advice: carbo load. Get in those high fibre foods to keep you going. And buy one sweet treat because you’ll need the sugar
CI: Do you have any anecdotes of participants getting some unexpected experience out of participating?
AMM: Absolutely! We’ve had participants create a great impact through doing the challenge in a quirky way. Our very own head of campaign’s first time doing the challenge, he had a dinner with friends who weren’t doing the challenge. He had to sit with only a glass of water to sip on all night. See below for statement:
On Monday night, I just happened to be meeting up with a bunch of school friends, some of whom I hadn’t seen in months. Throughout the night I sat at one end of the table, sipping water. I watched as my friends dug into three large and very appetising pizza dishes.
Afterwards, when we were organising the bill, one of my friends was nice enough to ask me to pay for them all. I kindly refused.
Two days later, I joined in on the celebrations for my boss’ birthday. With all of my colleagues aware of my five-day challenge, they made a conscious effort to pass the cheesecake away from me. I appreciated their concern, but couldn’t help but lick my lips when my eyes made contact with the cake’s glorious filling.
That night the torment continued. At a University soiree, which cost me $30 to attend, I found myself surrounded by platters of finger food and a bar tab. Once again, I was left to capitalise on the free water.
As frustrating as it was that such occasions fell on the same week as my diet, I am really thankful that my schedule panned out how it did.
First of all, these social events gave me an invaluable opportunity to raise awareness about the Live Below the Line campaign. When people asked me why I wasn’t eating, I explain the fundraiser and my motivations for doing so. When questioned as to whether I was starving I informed people otherwise. “It’s amazing how much you can eat on $2 a day,” I would explain.
Here in the West, we live to eat; those in the developing world eat to live.
CI: Do you see Live Below the Line changing in the future? What are your long-term goals for the annual event?
AMM: A really key factor for Live Below the Line is maintaining the support of our volunteers. We are all under the age of 26, so keeping our ears close to the ground keeps us relevant! We are our target audience so it’s important that we listen to our peers to develop clever strategies!
Oaktree and the focus of Live Below the Line will stay geared towards aiding development with our partner organisations and increasing the level of engagement we have with them. We want to see poverty eradicated in our life time, and we see young people as having a key role to play in this issue.
If you’re keen to participate in the 5 day Live Below the Line Challenge, check the links below to sign up! However, Oaktree’s new 2 day challenge is happening this Thursday and Friday, so if you’d like to get your feet wet, that’s a great place to start!