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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Building a fundraising profile from scratch

This opinion piece is over 7 years old

Susie Williamson on the little-known children's charity Seamab and its new brand

Two things I’ve heard often in the last seven months:

“I’ve never heard of it. What is it?”

Susie Williamson

One partnership inspired by Seamab’s work has had such a significant effect, it’s actually changed the way in which we tell the world about what we do

Susie Williamson

“Well, I’m guessing the “S” stands for Scottish, but I’ve no idea what the other letters stand for…”

Since April, when I was appointed as fundraising manager of Seamab, I’ve frequently had the pleasure of watching people go from knowing nothing of the charity at all, to very quickly understanding the value of what we do.

Seamab provides care and education for children aged between five and 13 who have had experiences of trauma, loss, abuse and neglect. We support our children to heal, grow and learn. Once I’ve explained that much, most people have stopped pondering the name (but if you are still wondering – quite simply, it’s the name of the hill on which our school building stands).

Building an ambitious strategy for fundraising for a charity that has had a limited public profile and very little previous activity is of course a huge challenge, but there’s a few things about Seamab that have made it much easier.

The work carried out by the staff at Seamab is incredible. They treat every child in their care as unique and special and, no matter what, stick with them, encourage them, comfort and support them. These are people who are undoubtedly highly skilled but the personal characteristics that help them work with some of Scotland’s most vulnerable children aren’t learnt – they’re inherent.

It’s this that has already attracted support from large corporates and trusts, but one partnership inspired by Seamab’s work has had such a significant effect, it’s actually changed the way in which we tell the world about what we do – and, of course, that’s also had a positive effect on our fundraising.

Edinburgh design agency StudioLR took on the task of creating a new brand identity for Seamab, meeting with staff and children to find out what it means to them, and the things they would like to tell the world about what the charity does.

The outcome was the Sea Changers – a set of characters who give Seamab an endearing voice to tell their story. Entitled Free, Hope, Joy, Safe, Brave, Calm and Hug, the Sea Changers are designed to express all the things that Seamab strives to achieve for the children in supporting their physical and emotional recovery.

This unique partnership between Seamab and StudioLR was named as “Best Partner Relationship (Corporate or Trust)” at the Scottish Institute of Fundraising Awards in October. The award wasn’t expected, but it’s fair to say it’s lifted our profile considerably. StudioLR have given us a gift that has set the charity on a path towards attracting support on a much wider scale.

Thanks to our new brand, we’re about to launch our first ever individual giving campaign – Seamab’s Pocket Money Stories – which will run from November 30th through to the end of February 2017. Find out more at

Susie Williamson is fundraising manager of Sealab.