Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Christmas Present From Charity Hack

Ho Ho Ho - Charity Hack Santa is on his way - Have you been a good boy or girl?

It's been a crazy first year for Charity Hack so we decided we wanted to send you all a little Christmas card to say thank you for helping make Charity Hack whatever it has become. Without people willing to apply to be hacked, volunteer to be hackers, sponsor Charity Hack or share and retweet our many, many Tweets there would be no Charity Hack. Thank you.

But then we thought that a Thank You wasn't enough and neither was a Christmas Card so:
As a Christmas present from Charity Hack we are inviting you to a one off seminar entitled "How to Hack your Org".

Yep that's right.

We're going to talk about what Charity Hack is, discuss our thoughts on what mistakes we as charities make with our fundraising and we'll even give you some tips from Charity Hack that could help you make a difference to your organisation.

This Christmas present will be presented at 6pm on the 17th December at the Science Gallery, Trinity College who have generously donated the use of their space for the evening. You should check out their new website here
If you've ever volunteered to be a hacker, applied to be hacked or been a sponsor for Charity Hack this seminar is absolutely free. It's our Christmas gift to you to say thanks for helping Charity Hack get started.
If you've just been an interested observer and haven't joined the Charity Hack family yet you can still come to the seminar. On one condition: You just have to make a €10 Christmas donation online to any charity you like and bring your email receipt as proof on the night. It's just a nice gesture and a way of passing on the good will. Does that seem fair?


Now fill in this form to register your attendance:
We're really looking forward to seeing you on the 17th.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Ticking Clock

So I begin this blog with a lot of deadlines looming.

The deadline for charities to register for Charity Hack is only 9 hours away.

I've a presentation to prepare for a group in Cork for Friday.


I've nominated myself for the board of Fundraising Ireland with the election in a couple of weeks

There are other deadlines too but not relevant here.

Yesterday I was asked the same questions a couple of times -Why?

I did a radio interview about Charity Hack and the interviewer asked me - Why I decided to create Charity Hack?

When the nominations for the board of Fundraising Ireland were announced people asked me - Why would you want to do that?

and when you tell people you're going to go to Cork to do a presentation just because somebody asked and you think you can help they ask - Why would you do something like that? - for free?

The glib answer of course is to quote George Mallory who when asked Why climb Everest? replied "Because it's there"

not that by any stretch of the imagination are the things I'm working on anything like the same challenge as Everest but I could say 'because they're there' and sit back smuggly

The truth is there's never such a simple answer to any question.

Why do I want to be on the board of Fundraising Ireland?

Well it's not because I like attending meetings

It's not because of a desire for power or influence

It's out of pride.

I'm very proud to be a fundraiser and very proud to work as part of the Irish fundraising sector. There are so many amazing passionate and talented people working in our sector. They are creative, dedicated and completely driven to doing the best job they can for their cause. I'm proud that they are my peers and that I can call some of them friends.

So why do I want to be on the board?

Well we as a sector aren't proud enough of ourselves.

Most professional fundraisers in Ireland don't even have fundraiser as part of their job title. Donor Development, Supporter Care, Relationship Officer, Corporate Partnerships - We use all these terms instead of just being up front and saying we're fundraisers. Are we not proud to be fundraisers?

How many of us when asked at a party "What do you do" would respond first by saying "oh I work for xxxx" and only when prompted again say "I'm a fundraiser"

Think of your doctor or lawyer friends and what they'd say when asked "what do you do?" - Would they say "I work for Delaney, Clowry and Finch" or "I work for the HSE"

Am I saying that fundraising is as important and as prestigious a profession as our legal or medical friends?

Well yes I am

Why not?

There are fundraisers raising money for life saving drugs, for research into cures, for legal representatives for civil rights activists - In many instances fundraisers are directly responsible for saving thousands of lives. Well at least they're an important part of the life saving team. We should be proud of that.

Why else would I like to be part of the Board?

Well since I started Charity Hack I've been reminded more and more that the fundraising profession is a bit disjointed in Ireland. There are hundreds of people throughout the country working full time raising money for their cause without any connection to Fundraising Ireland - they may not even be aware it exists. They are often not aware that they can be trained to be better fundraisers or even that there is a huge amount of research they can access to help them do their job better. We need to reach these.

We need to connect with all fundraisers in big and small organisations. Give them the tools to be the best fundraisers they can be and be there to support them to develop their careers.

and that's what I'd like to do.

Finally back to Charity Hack.

Why do I want Charity Hack to continue to grow and multiply?

Well, because it's hard. It's hard to make a difference in society, to right wrongs. We're lucky that there are so many courageous people out there working in organisations with unbelievable goals.

To stop children dying from Meningitis
To prevent released prisoners reoffending
To stop the stigma of suicide
To find cures for cancer
To eliminate hunger
To protect children

There are thousands of people working on these challenges but it's bloody hard.

I believe that Charity Hack, by helping with fundraising, can make the challenge just a little easier.

Does that mean the developing fundraising campaigns in 12 hours for charities is easy?


That's hard too

but if people can take on the challenge of trying to solve some of the worlds biggest problems then I'm willing to take on the challenge of trying to help them

Let's do what's hard.


Sunday, November 03, 2013

Charity Hack - The Web Summit and Ambition

So this week I had the opportunity to attend the Web Summit (thanks to +Ian Cumbers from Social Energy)

For anybody who doesn't know what the Web Summit is it's basically a massive meet-up for techies, geeks and nerds with over 10,000 people attending. My first impression was Wow this looks like the Young Scientist Exhibition with a much bigger budget.

Anyway, I was listening to all these speakers from the biggest tech companies in the world, Facebook, Twitter, Wordpress and lots of others I'd never heard of and I started thinking about what I could learn as a fundraiser and what the charity sector in general could learn from these companies

and I think what I came away thinking strongest about - and I was very surprised by this - is that the charity sector lacks ambition.

"No frickin way!!" I hear you scream.

"We're feeding the starving, we're curing disease, we're saving the world"

and yeah while I kinda agree with you

We're not really.

Think about Google's mission
to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

That's a pretty ballsy statement.

They don't say they want to organize a small set of information in a test case in one region and then pending a successful review process to consider bringing the results to the board to seek approval for a further expansion of the project into a second region with the primary aim not to take any risks or end up on Joe Duffy!

Another speaker I saw Patrick Collison (from Nenagh) when asked what his company does answered simply,
"We're changing the way payments are done online"
again not wishy washy just a statement of intent and when asked how they were going to do it

he basically said "we already have 80 brilliant people working with us and we'll just keep hiring the best people we can possibly get when we need them in order to do get the job done"


he's talking about bloody online payments - not that exciting

but it get's back to my point about ambition

When do you ever hear a charity saying "We are going to eradicate XXX"


and if they do say it, are they bold in how they say they're going to achieve it or do they say

"working with governments and other agencies, we are aiming to build a coherent and sustainable model..... blah blah blah"

Now I'm not stupid enough to say that charities should be reckless but I just wonder why people can be more passionate and driven by working on Online payment systems then eradicating suffering.

Money you say?


Money is not a motivator for driven people - sure, it's nice to have but nobody get's up early and stays up late just for money. It's the buzz they get from achieving, changing the world, being the best, getting there first.

So why aren't charities - who are full of motivated and driven staff - bold enough to say "We're going to do XX and we're going to do it this way by the year 20xx!!"

I don't have the answer but the question has been weighing on my mind all weekend.

Maybe it's because we don't expect enough of ourselves

Recently I was in Oslo and I brought back this T-shirt for my little baby

People thought I was crazy!

Surely I don't expect my son to win the Nobel Peace Prize do I?

Well clearly not


Isn't it a better ambition to have than that he gets all A's in his exams? Or becomes a barrister and makes lots of money?

Will he win the Nobel Peace Prize - no

but I like that maybe it sets him a goal to be good to people, to be kind, generous of spirit and not worry about what you get back from it.

The rewards will take care of themselves.

Maybe as charities we need to push ourselves towards the higher goals, the bigger challenges and let the small stuff worry about themselves.

Some organisations are doing this.

We all know Charity Water and how amazing they are at everything (well not everything, some question their 100% promise - is it a genius fundraising play, a bit of clever accounting or both?)

anyway the CEO and Founder of Charity Water Scott Harrison spoke at the Web Summit.

First off, anybody who delivers fundraiser talks or presentations in general should see Scott speak - he gave a story telling masterclass and closed with a perfect ask - brilliant

but he also spoke about the ambition of Charity Water

there are 800 million people without access to clean water and he wants to end this problem  - full stop
Charity Water have so far reached 3 million people in the 7 or 8 years since they've been in existence and they want to reach 100 million in the next few years - ballsy

here's the problem we've identified
we believe our solution is the best (we won't argue about that here)
we're going to solve it this way
now will you fundraise for us to help us pay the bills


So what did I take from all this and why have I rambled on for so long?


It made me proud of Charity Hack

We set out to create fundraising solutions for 5 charities in 12 hours and we set about doing that.


Will we always succeed? no

Will we try again? yes

Will we reach every charity that needs help in the world? no

Will we keep trying? yes

Registrations for Charity Hack are open now - Click Here to find out more