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To make a change in legacies we need the right culture and the right leadership to make it happen. It’s about us personally but also our teams and our organisations working together.

Over the next week, I will be speaking across Australia in 5 cities in 5 days about legacies and legacy leadership to charities, NGO’s, fundraising directors, fundraisers and legacy specialists. I’m really pleased to be the guest of Include a charity – the Australian campaign to promote gifts in wills. Australia, like the UK and many other countries faces a similar challenge. Many people give to charity, but fewer leave a gift in their will but say they would consider it when asked. It’s why campaigns are so important. It’s why campaigns are leadership. It’s the difference.

The UK’s Remember A Charity campaign has made huge strides and has now built up a bank of knowledge and experience over the last 14 years. I was privileged to be the campaigns chair for 4 years and looking back its clear that what we thought was the case, is now showing in evidence. Much has changed. Legacy conversations, normalising, social media, partnerships, behaviour change at the heart and real insight and evidence. But at its heart has been consistency with innovation. Legacies are an emotional decision backed by rationale action. Understanding where the donors is comes first. Partnering to lever impact drives scale. Cut through from edge and campaigns where people get to talk about it

This week, apart from spending time with Include a Charity members and helping them make more of their legacy programmes, I will get a chance to speak to those who currently aren’t members or are interested in finding out more. With them I will be sharing ways to show organisational leadership by leading legacies and legacy cultures in their own charities. I have 7 pillars from my experience that I believe show the way to become a legacy leader. Over the next 7 days I will share an explanation of each pillar in my blog.

If you’d like to become a legacy leader in your organisation or want to share your thoughts drop me an email.

So. 5 days. 5 cities – Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney. You can follow on Twitter and Facebook at ….or through my blog.

Enjoy the ride.
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I used to know a brilliant fundraiser who had a habit of ordering her notes and papers on a table as if she had used a set square. I often found myself knocking them out of the precise angle she had set which caused great stress to her and mild amusement to me. This is the wrong form of disruption. I apologise unreservedly.

We are now entering an era of massive disruption. This will be in the way we ask, the way we organise ourselves and the way we deliver results. Our methods require the disruption of lives so we can ask on the scale we need to, to address the problems in the world we want to solve. This has changed already and we are going to need to be much more flexible, pragmatic, proactive and most of all brave. Many people get lost between Innovation and Disruption. Forbes and The Economist have a done great articles on the distinction, but essentially disruption is a shift, a change in thinking and behaving and the invention of new and better. Simple version below.

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We think of disruption as huge stuff. Uber and taxis. Apple and tech. Facebook and Twitter. But small disruption is needed too. Small can mean a change in thinking, behaviour, invention of new and better by different. Creative disruption to shift behaviour from the current norm to a new place. What can that look like in a small way that can have a big impact? What can you do on a day-to-day basis that stirs things up for good? How do you mess the papers organised with the set square?

So, simple things. How about disrupting the way you work? How about changing the reporting so it matters? About how you thank people. How about shifting back the responsibility for a process to the person who is supposed to do the process? How about you get them to meet a donor? How about a donors sign off? How about replacing meetings with 20 minute time frames – no action then stop. How about creative disruption in direct mail or legacies or digital where you create a different view or message, where you go with a hunch and just see? How about disruption in your team meeting – get out of the room and visit something together or create something together – a problem you keep ignoring. How about removing one approval a day and letting someone decide for themselves? Disrupt and challenge because you want to see and be better. How about changing the rules or even better getting rid of them?

How about brand new?

The list can be endless. But the mind that adopts creative disruption with small steps can make things happen and for the right reasons that lead to big steps.

Have a go. #disrupt4good. Ideas on a tweet please.

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Sometimes in adversity, good things can flow to greet you. Very often, the inspiration for that good comes from the past. A comforting place, when it was what it was and from its certainty, we can draw lessons to help guide us in a future of uncertainty.

As the sector embarks on ways to re-engage with the donor, including the welcome launch of a Commission for the Donor, it’s worth remembering that so many of us began fundraising where we learnt from wisdom learnt before us. Moments of clarity that will have guided us for years to come. For those who remember and believe in Ken Burnett’s book Relationship Fundraising, its worth reminding us of a perfect list in the book, fashioned by Ken’s mentor, guide and friend Harold Sumption, a fundraiser and pioneer, and who founded the International Fundraising Workshop. There’s a great blog by Mathew Sherrington in 101 Fundraising with more pearls and wisdom. Whilst Ken reminded us that there are ‘no absolute rules and slavish adherence to formulae’ there are some principles fashioned from that relationship that would do well to shine today. Here they are, lifted without permission but certainty that the author would very much like them shared as they were written, so here they are….10 key principles

  1. Fundraising is not about raising money. It’s about meeting needs and bringing about change
  2. People give to people, not organisations or even causes. Fundraising is a people business. Personal requests work best. Fund the development is people development.
  3. Friend making comes before fundraising
  4. Open their hearts. Open their minds. Then open their chequebooks.
  5. Communicate need to bring the problem to the donor
  6. Set clear targets. Communicate your goals to your donors. Communicate action and success to encourage full involvement.
  7. Know how much to ask each prospect for, and when
  8. The most important 2 words are thank you. Acknowledge every donation with a friendly, personal letter. Give larger donors special treatment
  9. Encourage donors to identify with your organisation, to feel a sense of shared ownership
  10. Always be honest, open and truthful with donors. Share your problems as well as your successes

I hope this helps guide another generation and reminds this one that going back is the right way to the future

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Some words matter more than others. Some have a rounder meaning, set a tone better and signal a mood more easily. In legacies the right words can be the difference between engaging or alienating.

The right words will help you and them nod with gentle enthusiasm, help them ponder on meaning or be moved by the string they form in the order they were delivered. They cut to the core, they sum up, they direct. So….here are my top 10 best words in legacy fundraising

  1. Consider – time after time a solid word in legacies. Being asked to consider is polite, respectful and appropriate. Would you consider leaving a gift? Nice
  2. Leave – leave a gift, leave a mark, leave something of yourself
  3. Gift – A legacy is a gift. Simple
  4. Future – Some time soon. Look to then and you made this possible – in the future. Hope. Now but to come
  5. Small – A small share, a small amount, small. Legacies get seen as large when in reality a small share of whatever is left after friends and family
  6. Share – a share of whatever is left after friends and family
  7. Family – its first and foremost and needs to be upfront
  8. Remember – the time to look back, with the donor and you
  9. Commit – a promise to leave a gift but no more – in time, when ready
  10. Thank you – its two words but lets break a few rules

This is not jargon. This is communication, connection, relational. Honest and real. Hope. That is a legacy.

6849069753_4ab0ff4553_zLooking for stories, understanding them, capturing them and sharing them requires a mindset as much as practical tools. It all starts with defining what’s right in front of you, and then working out from there. In an article on storytelling for the Fundraiser magazine, i created five very practical things you can do to take action and become the master storyteller that every fundraiser really should be.

  1. Find your story. You are the connection and the storyteller, so make sure you know your own story and can retell it. Write it down as a letter. Hone it into different versions, including a final short one. Find the emotional connection in your story to your cause and organisation, and relive it.
  2. Connect with your organisation’s story. Find the story of how your organisation came about, the people behind the organisation and their lives. What happened, and how did their story make your organisation possible? Find today’s stories, too – the ones that show the continuing work and passion of your founders.
  3. Build your toolkit. Start with your eyes and ears – use them! Then get your smart phone working for you with apps that help you make notes, tools that dictate and record voices, video and still image cameras that capture words and pictures. Alongside this, get a beautiful notebook, a pen and a clean page – and write each story down. Become a collector.
  4. Find ‘narrators’. Build a tribe of people who will actively find and collect stories. It will change the culture of your organisation into an active storytelling world. It involves and engages others, inspiring them and, in turn, becoming infectious. Create a place to store and share these stories. Study other charities and brands that get it right, and learn from them.
  5. Ask. Use the three perfect questions: 1) How did you get involved? 2) What’s your story? 3) How has this made a difference? These work equally on donors, volunteers, supporters and staff. They are open questions, and allow people to be natural. Prompt sometimes, but listen and capture – then share

For a more in-depth look at storytelling, read the longer piece in Fundraiser

Great stories get lost because they are often poorly told. The story-teller matters as much as the story. Simple, clear, emotional and true. Sometimes, we try too hard – when simple then becomes unexpected. Here is a brilliant one from a series for Marie Curie Cancer Care.

This is tough. Brave, hard-hitting, honest, heartbreaking, direct, emotional. A powerful authentic story. Controversial but required. A rallying call. A solution. This is the sort of ad that floors you. Save the Children...I salute you.

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