21 Nov 2016

If you work for a voluntary organisation, do you recognise these?

  • At a monthly management meeting you walk out with three more essential projects to do that weren’t in your original plans.

  • At budgeting time you have a reduced budget but still have all the objectives in the plan to deliver (plus those new ones from point 1). You end up cutting 3% off each.

  • A senior manager / Trustee / Major donor has a “pet project” or reporting requirement that you must deliver NOW, come what may.

  • ...

26 Jul 2016

The backdrop: my back garden at dusk last night

The characters:  a cat, a blackbird, a squirrel, bats, the silent supervisor

Scene 1 – Garden side of the wall

I am a contented cat, happy with my lot. I’ll just sit here in the garden for a while, and then pad calmly over here. Oh, nice and settled, just close my eyes for a moment. Phrrr – just open one eye, there’s something twittering.

Oh, it’s only that blackbird – seen him round here for ages… funny that, blackbirds seem to be getting younger...

1 Jul 2016

I think it is safe to say that the vote to leave the EU shook things up a bit. There were dramatic upheavals: David Cameron quit as PM, Jeremy Corbyn received a vote of no confidence, the pound dropped to its lowest in 31 years and the final shot in the dark (execution?), Boris Johnson isn't running for PM and neither, now, is Gove.

You would think that after the referendum, the country would have had a moment of reflection. A time to gather itself before politicians on all sides decided to drown...

20 Jun 2016

(Mrs Cook - Don't call a lawyer, I'm not about to confess to being a philanderer...)

Swipe right. Swipe left. I'm not suggesting Tinder is the way everyone should date, but my two children are testimony to its success.

Okay, not quite. Tinder didn't exist four short years ago when my son was born.

But, it's massive growth since its inception is not surprising and how can you not admire the Tinder model? It's as simple as one finger movement: You like someone's photo (swipe right). You're not...

5 Apr 2016

Last summer, Olive Cooke took her own life and shone a light on aggressive, charity tactics. The public reacted immediately and harshly, and the government backed them with legislation to force charities to own up to their fundraising practices. It was signed into law just this month.

Yet, there are still people in the charity sector who look at their Excel spreadsheets and say, "Telephone calls and chuggers are working! All the naysayers who think people hate this stuff, they base that on anecdo...

19 Jan 2016

Walk into any charity HQ in the country and what you will find is a traditional setup - top down management and separate departments handling different donor types. Whilst all aiming for the same thing, our staffing structures are such that different departments end up competing with one another over the same donors.

So, let's say the department that handles outreach charity events like marathons is contacted by a major corporation that wants all its executives to run in the marathon: who re...

6 Jan 2016

The charity sector is full of innovators. But, for some reason, the one area that seems to enhance the performance of every other sector is one that we feel we are useless at: digital fundraising.

When I talk to people about digital fundraising, inevitably they tell me they think we are awful at it. But are we? Is there really no success or innovation in digital fundraising?

I don't see why digital fundraising is any different to offline fundraising. We all copy Thomas Barnardo's technique don't w...

17 Dec 2015

Santa is missing a trick. The man has a dedicated, elf workforce and a team of reindeer ready to deliver his message, but his fundraising is abysmal.

Children all around the world received his charitable gifts and now are adults, leading full and productive lives. It's about time he recognised the potential of his large donor base and reached out to them.

There is a lot he could learn from the charity sector. There is a wealth of information out there about building his list of donors, opport...

3 Nov 2015

How much cash do you have in your wallet?

Charities rely on that extra bit of cash. That’s what our fundraising is all about. We ask people to dispose of their disposable income with us.

Let me state a bit of the obvious here: people have 100% of their money to spend after taxes. Imagine that was a thick wad of cash in your wallet and you paid all your bills using it.

In general, that money would get siphoned off pretty quickly and not into the general economy, but back in the hands of a few major...

19 Oct 2015

Friends, gather round. I have been to the Labour Party Conference and survived to tell this tale: the world of politics is not full of sharks but of carnival games.

And, it's not just politics. In conventions centres across the land, charities are setting up shop and nabbing innocent bystanders through the bait of plastic ducks, knocking over pins and humiliating others by topping them on leaderboards.

At the Labour Party Conference, it seemed every charity wanted in...

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