In 2021, we came together to build Thank You Day on Sunday 4th July. Across the UK, our streets, communities and cities celebrated and said thank you to those who have helped us through the pandemic.
Despite shifting COVID-19 restrictions, over 2 million people took part in community events on Thank You Day, and millions more took part in the day on social media, where #ThankYouDay trended for the entire day.
Every aspect of Thank You Day, from picnics to litter picks, was created to help us work towards kinder, closer and more connected communities.
Our goal with Thank You Day in 2021 was to create a moment in the UK calendar where everyone has an excuse to get together with their neighbours and community. In 2021, it also gave us the opportunity to try and embed the community spirit we had felt throughout the first lockdowns, and say thank you to those who had helped us through.
Against a backdrop of rising division, polarisation and loneliness, we sought to create an opportunity for people to meet and get to know each other, across all ages, politics and backgrounds.
Everyone was invited and we all worked hard to make sure they knew it! Charities, businesses and media organisations pushed out the message of Thank You Day in as many different ways as they could, appealing to different audiences through different activities.
On the Day
We saw thousands of groups and organisations host Thank You Day events, despite pouring rain across most of the country!
Through a partnership with Virgin Media O2 and Neighbourly, we were able to equip hundreds of local charities to run Thank You Day events for their beneficiaries and communities through the VMO2 Together Fund.
A further 10 hyper-local community groups, which we called ‘Community Connectors’, were given a little extra support, with thanks to Spirit of 2012 and Virgin Media O2, to help them reach new people, and enable mixing across divides. They were each encouraged to hold the event in the way that they felt would work best to connect people in their community. Below is a snapshot of the impact they had:
40% of attendees had never been to a community event before
70% of attendees came because they wanted to meet someone in their local area
90% of attendees said they’d talked to someone from a different background to themselves
Impact of the Day
The support was incredible, with Thank You Day featuring across regional and national media and hundreds of organisations and groups getting stuck in to make the day their own. Between our launch in May to Thank You Day itself, there were nearly 1,500 mentions of Thank You Day across broadcast TV, radio and print media in every single region of the UK.
We saw what happened on social media and in the news play out on the ground too. 88% of people who went to a Thank You Day event talked to someone from a different background to themselves, 63% said the event made it easier for them to meet new people.
A whopping 48% of people who went to a Thank You Day event said that as a result of attending they were now more likely to host their own community event. 47% said they’re now more likely to get involved in community activities, and 44% are more likely to volunteer.
We’re really encouraged that these initial findings suggest that taking part in moments like Thank You Day could act as a gateway or stepping stone into longer-term activity that connects people, helping us to create kinder, closer and more connected communities.
What we’ve learned
Thank You Day 2021 was the start of something which we hope will become much bigger in future, and we made sure to learn as much as we could from the day.
Using a white-label brand (i.e. not /together branded), and a flexible theme of ‘Thank You’ helped inspire collective ownership of the day with both big brands and at a grassroots level. Being able to use the assets and brand as their own, and adopt ‘Thank You’ in whatever way felt relevant to them, meant we were able to reach many more members of the public with Thank You Day, and that it organically spread.
The strength of the together coalition is in the breadth and diversity of our partners. Through their expertise we were able to reach new audiences. They advised on different moments, methods and ideas to reach different groups across society. Whether it was a Scottish-specific element to the campaign, ideas specifically for young people or advice on how best to use social media advertising, we would not have been able to deliver Thank You Day without them.
By creating a number of different ‘moments’ based across different sectors, we were able to create a drumbeat of activity up to the day, building a sense of momentum, and a feeling that it was growing. This in turn, inspired new partners to join the campaign and help us reach more people.
As we started growing thank you day, we had some amazing opportunities – not all of which we were able to capitalise on due to the capacity of our coordinating charity, The Together Initiative. The charity will never need to have loads of capacity, as we’re here to embed social connection as part of culture and practice in the UK – eventually, we hope to be redundant. But, whilst we set up and grow Thank You Day, we know that a few extra pairs of hands could have made a massive impact.
The ‘Community Connectors’ project demonstrated that, with some extra support and resourcing, the Thank You Day concept can work in communities and with groups who might not normally get involved in these kinds of events. We’ll look to see how we can expand this in future, targeting areas and communities who would most benefit from this support.
Download the full evaluation on this project.
The Thank You Day review shows how we built the day as a coalition, what went well and what we are learning from so we can make future Thank You Days even better.
We would love you to read, question, learn and share your thoughts with us @togethercoalit.