A Supporter’s Blog

Clive Burnage from @20 tells us how their initiatives help charities like Nordoff Robbins

“The @20 concept evolved from the meeting of like-minded musicians / music equipment addicts on a Facebook group. People from all over the country sell, buy and trade lots of equipment there and an idea formed around 18 months ago to put up an item in a ‘raffle’ whereby a number of people buy tickets, then once the market value of the item has been achieved, a name is drawn at random to determine the winner.

I immediately saw an opportunity for this to be expanded so that some additional funds could be donated to worthy causes, but just as quickly realised that trust would naturally play a very big part in any success. People joining in would need absolute confidence that the ‘draw’ wasn’t rigged and so on. In addition, there was the question of legality and the inevitable bundle of bureaucratic red tape ready and waiting to tie good intentions up in knots!

Having built a good reputation amongst the regular members of that group through my guitar tech and sales business, UnsungHeroGuitars, the initial trust element fortunately seemed to fall into place quite easily. However, the hard work began when researching what it would take to form a legitimate and licensed entity to take this forward.

I invited a number of other members to form the voluntary Management Committee and we became a non-profit, unincorporated association. A Small Society Lottery licence was obtained and a website built to handle the process of selling tickets. Once we had satisfied money laundering regulation checks, we were good to go!

A minimum of 20% of the total ticket sales from every prize draw is donated to charity. The remainder covers the cost of the prize and all admin and website costs – it’s unfortunate that the expenses mount up, but it’s simply the reality if you’re going to do things right.

In order to ensure transparency within the actual draw process itself, we piggy-back onto the National Lottery LOTTO Draw whereby entrants are assigned a number and the winner is decided by the Bonus Ball. This works very well because everyone who has entered gets to share the anticipation and outcome at the same time, no matter where in the country they are!

Another nice element of what we do is that we invite people who have bought a ticket to nominate a cause which has a special relevance or has touched them in some way – this really adds an extra connection for all involved. As a result, over the past year, we have donated over £3,500 for some great causes including Macmillan Cancer Support, Acorns Children’s Hospice, Tiny Lives, Winston’s Wish, Crohn’s & Colitis UK, Camp Mohawk, St Kentigern Hospice, Dementia UK and many others.

Our association with Nordoff Robbins actually came about through a draw we held in September for a signature model guitar which had recently been released by PRS for Chris Robertson of the American rock band Black Stone Cherry. Chris himself heard about the draw and even bought a ticket too! He said that if he won, he’d donate it to a music charity – top man! When I asked for nominations, Chris responded, “Man there’s a cool charity called Nordoff Robbins it’s music therapy!”. That was absolutely perfect! 

We’re aware that when people buy a ticket, there is no guarantee of winning – it’s a gamble, hence the requirement for licensing and all the formalities. Whilst they were very onerous at the time, we’re delighted that we stuck with it as there’s a lot of good things about @20. Someone gets to win some very cool gear from the likes of Fender, Gibson, Suhr and Strymon for the price of a take-away and of course, we get to make a contribution to the lives of those less fortunate.

I think the most surprising aspect – and it’s something I really didn’t anticipate – is the genuine feeling of warmth and goodwill from all who take part, even if they don’t happen to get lucky. It’s very humbling to know that there are other good people who very much ‘get it’ as we say – and it’s great entertainment too! The only downside is that I genuinely want everyone to win every time!

The more people who become interested in what we do, perhaps in time we’ll be able to make that small difference a little bit bigger”