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The “Harry and Meghan effect” quadruples charity donations

Surfers Against Sewage sees incredible surge in donations after an unexpected royal patronage

Following an unexpected bout of royal patronage, an anti-plastic charity saw a fourfold increase in donations, website hits and reputation improvement.

Prince Harry and the new Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, asked the public to send donations to seven highlighted charities instead of sending a wedding gift. Surfers Against Sewage was one of such charities chosen and have seen a great response.

CEO, Hugo Tagholm, told the Guardian the patronage was a “complete bolt out of the blue” and that the resulting global interest is “phenomenal.”

“Suddenly, people don’t think we’re just a bunch of surfers in a shack down at the beach. Suddenly, Surfers Against Sewage isn’t just a niche, quality little NGO,” Tagholm said. “Suddenly, people realise we’re a really serious marine conservation charity.”

With just 19 staff members, working a five-minute walk from the Cornish coastline in the south of England, the small charity did not expect the sudden interest. The “Harry and Meghan effect” had a bigger impact than it would on a larger organisation.

“We are really small. Nationally and internationally, it’s a micro business,” Tagholm said, adding that it’s a “small charity with a big voice.”

In a statement from Kensington Palace the couple said they were “incredibly grateful for the goodwill shown to them” after the announcement of their engagement and that in the lead up to the wedding they were “keen that as many people as possible benefit from this generosity of spirit”

In a statement released before the wedding, Surfers Against Sewage said the donations raised through the Royal Wedding will help train volunteers and leaders, enable student outreach, and inspire community action.

“We’re thrilled that the couple care about protecting beaches and tackling plastic pollution, and have chosen to use their special day to help promote and support our work to safeguard the UK coastline,” the charity said.

“We’d like to say a huge thank you to Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle, and we wish them all the best for the future.”

The other charities chosen include Children’s HIV Association (CHIVA), Crisis, Myna Mahila Foundation, Scotty’s Little Soldiers, StreetGames and The Wilderness Foundation UK. All were selected on the basis they were small and could benefit from more attention leading up to the wedding, like Surfers Against Sewage did.

Tagholm added: “We have never reached that many people in all our history, ever.”

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