Oxfam Festivals 2018: an outstanding season

The festival season has been brilliant for us in 2018, giving Oxfam its biggest ever festival presence for a year without Glastonbury (the magic that is Glastonbury takes a break every 5 years). A huge thank you to all the amazing volunteers and staff who supported Oxfam this summer.

Festival achievements in numbers:

Our dedicated festivals team have been truly exceptional and I cannot thank them enough. They were faced with a mammoth challenge in securing Oxfam’s presence at 21 festivals, including 5 which were new to us, namely Beat Herder, Isle of Wight, River Cottage, St Paul’s Carnival and Wilderness. This meant new business and new relationships, necessitating raising funds through first class service delivery.

Photo credit: Zara Canfield/Oxfam

Our #StepsforWater campaign between June and September reached over 11,000 festival goers with meaningful conversations about the impact of Oxfam’s water work around the world, bringing in 6,000 sign-ups to the campaign. Meanwhile, our water tank made an appearance at Latitude, Womad and Bestival with a 360° immersive film depicting how water is brought to refugee camps and communities worldwide. The powerful film moved some people to tears.

Photo credit: Zara Canfield/Oxfam

Trading ran the most festival shops ever – 10! -, taking over £200,000 . Festival merchandise sales doubled and for the first time, we offered products online, such as this fetching festival hoodie.

Photo credit: Zara Canfield/Oxfam

Thanks to our dedicated volunteers:

The undoubted driving force behind this is our hugely dedicated team of volunteers. A community of positive like-minded individuals who represent Oxfam and make it all happen. This summer we recruited close to 6,000 volunteers, who have given over 100,000 hours of their time to ensure hundreds of thousands of festivalgoers are safe to enjoy themselves and have an amazing time.
Photo credit: Zara Canfield/Oxfam

The community spirit at Oxfam Festivals needs to be experienced first hand. People of all ages and professions, from nurses and doctors to members of the fire service, students, and retirees in their 80s. Infectious and utterly unique, the Oxfamily is chock-full of inspirational people, a community where everyone and anyone will feel welcomed and at home. These are parts of our work that are more difficult to count and measure, but are essential and central to everything we do.

And thanks to IT and Supporter Relations:

In March, with support from colleagues in IT we launched the new website application which led to significant improvements in the volunteer registration experience and best ever conversion rates [proportion of visitors completing the registration process]. As always, our colleagues in Supporter Relations provided an exceptional level of customer service. The team received and replied to a staggering 8,000 emails, replied to over 2,000 social messages, while taking over 3,000 phone calls throughout the season.

The festival experience:

Let’s not be mistaken that festival stewarding offers a free pass in. Ask anyone that has done a night shift on a rainy, muddy site, and they will tell you that it can be hard graft. However, helping a parent who has temporarily lost their child, or supervising less experienced stewards and watching them grow in confidence can be utterly rewarding on so many levels.

Alongside the unpredictability of the British weather, working in a festival environment demands an aptitude for dealing with the unexpected. This season we battled through the blistering heat of Bestival, Wilderness and Latitude, and the torrential rain at Boardmasters and BoomTown, not to mention the high winds that forced Camp Bestival and River Cottage to close early. All of this takes an unwavering dedication to safeguarding and wellbeing. Implementing ‘ahead of the curve’ policy, comprehensive training and table-top exercises ensures the safety of our volunteers and the festivalgoing public is the utmost priority.

Photo credit: Zara Canfield/Oxfam

We look forward to seeing you in a field sometime soon! Register your interest here for 2019.

Mike Green, Head of Festivals 

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