Get together with your friends and Toss Off – that’s the message being issued to the people of Manchester in order to raise awareness of HIV and sexual health.
The campaign is the work of the Terrence Higgins Trust (THT), and – much to the relief of those lacking a strong constitution – the event merely relates to the tossing of pancakes on Shrove Tuesday.
The Trust is asking people to register to host a Toss Off party with friends, get tossing, and raise money by asking guests for a £10 donation on Tuesday February 9.
Sonya Trivedy, fundraising director at THT, which campaigns for good sexual health and to reduce the spread of HIV, explained to MM why these two apparently disparate elements have come together in – hopefully – perfect harmony.
— TerrenceHigginsTrust (@THTorguk) January 19, 2016
“For a while we’ve been thinking about how we can create new fundraisers that are going to attract our existing audiences and attract new audiences,” she said.
“The thing for us is that we knew our target audience were interested in coming together and doing a fundraiser.
“Obviously we know that Great British Bake Off is popular, people like doing cake sales in their offices – what can we do that’s different?
“From our audience we learned that they were interested in spending time with their friends, doing a fundraiser that’s easy to do, something that’s sociable and food-based, and low-cost.
“Because our business is sex and good sexual health, it’s a good opportunity for us to think about how we can be a bit tongue-in-cheek, so pancakes came up and we thought about Toss Off!”
Despite it being estimated that over 100,000 people are living with the virus in the UK, HIV is described on the THT website as ‘one of the least popular causes to support’.
WHAT A TOSSER: THT hope the campaign will draw attention to their work (© Terrence Higgins Trust)
In a crowded fundraising market, HIV has often had to shout to make its voice heard, and the THT hopes that this campaign will prove a winning recipe.
“One of the things that’s really important is that we stand out above the crowd, because we’re not a children’s charity or a cancer charity,” she said.
“People might not ordinarily support us, so we need to really stand out, we need to be a bit edgy.
“Obviously children’s and cancer charities are absolutely vital, but when you think about the natural support you get people think of relevance – people might not always think of us as a relevant organisation to them.
“HIV rarely hits the headlines – last year there was obviously the Charlie Sheen story, so HIV hit the news but not necessarily for the right reasons.
“This provides us with a good opportunity to raise awareness for our cause and our brand as well as raising money.”
— TerrenceHigginsTrust (@THTorguk) January 11, 2016
The fundraising page is a playground of puns and double entendres, imploring people to discover who ‘the biggest tosser’ is, as well as making sure friends are there to ‘lend a hand’.
It’s not difficult to see why the campaign has caught on, and with a Spice Girl on board, Sonya hopes it can go from strength to strength, despite those who have taken surely undue offence.
“Early sign-ups have been really good, and the response has been really positive,” she said.
“There have been a few comments to say that this is in bad taste, but unfortunately in lots of work we do we may get those kind of comments, but we never ever want to offend anybody.
“We hope that people will just see this as a play on words, something easy to do, and a good opportunity for people to come together.
“Ideally we want to get over 300 people signing up for it, and on social media we want to create a really big buzz – Mel C tweeted about it on the day of the launch.
— TerrenceHigginsTrust (@THTorguk) January 16, 2016
“We want to be able to continue to do this event year on year, and we hope that we can raise close to half a million pounds in a few years time for this particular event.
“What we’d love is that pancakes become synonymous with the Terrence Higgins Trust, and every Pancake Day people think ‘let’s have a pancake party for Terrence Higgins Trust!’
“That would be wonderful if that’s how it goes in the future.”
If you fancy tossing off yourself, click here.
Main image courtesy of The Cullinary Geek and Columbia Pictures, via YouTube, with thanks,