Thursday, September 15, 2016

Everyday is Game Day - Summer Hack Series Episode 2



The Elite. The Best of the Best.


Because when it was needed
When it was needed
When time was running out
When they were behind
They Delivered

When it would take something extraordinary - they were extraordinary

When others looked around - they were the ones looking forward.

We love sports and sportspeople because they deliver amazing moments to us. They train for hours, days, years so that when it matters, when it really matters. They are ready.

On Game Day

But the weird thing is

Sport doesn't matter.

Nobody dies when the whistle goes

Nobody gets hurt if the shot is missed

There's always another game


The harsh reality is that for a lot of the world game day is the same as every other day. Another day of suffering, another day of pain, of hunger, of fear, or sickness.

Whether we're trained for it for our whole lives

and most of us haven't.

The charity sector is often the only person on the same team as the underdog, on the same team as the ones falling behind, the ones taking all the hits.

and whether we like it or not

the final shot, the last chance, the moment of moments

might fall to us.

and we can't afford to miss.

We don't know when that moment will come because those moments are every day.

For all our causes.

We're not sporting legends

just regular people

but we must be ready

because if we're not - when those in need look around for help - who will be looking forward?

So we must train hard

we must be ready.

Everyday is game day.


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Summer Hack Series Episode 1 - Board Obstruction?

In the last few weeks I've attended the awesome Ask Direct Fundraising Summer School and we've had our 5th Charity Hack.

Both of these events threw up a number of consistent thoughts,irritants and/or rant fuel (I think I'm going to patent the phrase rant fuel)

So I've decided to combine them into a Summer Hack (see what I did there) series and post them over the coming weeks.

Todays topic - Board Obstruction

Disclaimer - The board I work under are awesome, hugely engaged and supportive, willing to listen but also willing to challenge.

ZZZ zzzz ZZZZ zzzz SNORE

Yeah Yeah Yeah we all hate boards, boards suck and they're only useful as content for humorous blog posts or for the more ambitious books on how to manage your board.

But seriously

Boards are one of the most important constituents in our sector. They are the ones held responsible by the public (and the law) for ensuring that donor money is used properly and adequately reported. It's their job to make sure that our organisation does the work it's supposed to do and has adequate funds to continue doing its work.

So why do we as professionals in the sector spend so much time complaining about how our board sucks, how they don't understand fundraising, how they block every attempt to deliver awesome campaigns? Are they bad people just determined to undermine staff while they groom their ego?

No I think it's because we're not good enough at our jobs.

We pride ourselves on our ability to tell stories. We pat ourselves on the back for our amazing donor love. We exalt at how clever we are to identify a new donor segment to approach


Our board are our primary volunteers

They actual donate their time - which is in many cases extremely valuable. They donate their expertise in governance, finance, legal issues etc and they donate their reputation as directors of a charity.

I think we owe them a bit of respect

and I don't mean pander and accept bad behavior from them

What I mean is that they deserve to be brought along on a journey just like any other donor or volunteer.

Connect them to the work - in language or method that resonates with them not with your programme team

Ask them to remember what drew them to the organisation in the first place.

Thank them for their contributions.

Explain why fundraising needs to develop in a particular way and give them professionally thought out pros, cons and scenarios. Give them data but also explain that they may or may not be the target market for a particular campaign.

Tell them the impact their decisions can make to your cause.

Include them in the decision process - like which agency you might use
and ask for their professional expertise (once you're confident enough to refute non expert opinion).

Will this work and will every board member suddenly think you're amazing?


But more probably you'll convince a couple at a time and you'll have to keep going back to them. Talking about the work, appealing to their passion and experience until they get what you're trying to do.

But it's not different than any donor or volunteer - People connect differently to different things.

Try this:

  • Bring in some plain cards and envelops for your board.
  • Ask them to write down on their card the reason they care about the work or why they joined the board
  • Don't ask them to read it
  • Tell them to seal it and put it in their diary 
  • No every time they see the card they will remember why the volunteer as a board member and will be reconnected to your work


This is all just about saying don't blame your board for not supporting you. Look in the mirror and ask have you done enough to earn their support.