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Purpose is hot right now. Like someone woke up one day and went ‘purpose….i’ll package that’. It’s everywhere in charity, business, marketing, branding and personal development. Rediscovered. And yet its still surprisingly hard to find and often nowhere to be seen in places that matter most.

When I was a kid there was this other kid who we used to play with at school and he had a reputation for asking why. All the time. Literally all the time. He could drill down with the word ‘why’ beyond Einstein, Newton or Hawking. When a question was answered he found another ‘why’. In charities and over 30 years experience, surprisingly I have still not seen enough of why or purpose, especially in the everyday decisions and activity. It’s a core principle of mine as I work with people, teams and organisations and I have learnt to always focus on purpose first personally, as a team and as a cause or organisation. This core mix of finding, even rediscovering purpose is a game changer if tuned into. The early half of my fundraising career was in Community Fundraising, and now looking back and working with lots of different size charities I know that there is one central truth and revelation. It is this.

Those who define, articulate and are guided by purpose raise more money

I can hear the kid again…why? Well I confess its going to take a lot to prove that statement, and I guess that’s for another day – my experience and intuition will have to be enough for now. Fundraising without clarity on your purpose is lost and at sea. But fundraising without purpose in the community, in local fundraising and in traditional raised income from volunteers is more than lost when purpose is lost. It’s a specific subset of a problem and its worth drilling down into the challenges that exist. These are the key reasons in particular why Community Fundraising loses its way on using and driving purpose.

  1. Purpose becomes implicit rather than explicit and over time simply gets forgotten
  2. People dive into how to raise money first rather than connect and explain before
  3. Marketing and branding reinvent and obscure in slogans and tag lines
  4. General statements reign supreme over specific
  5. Leaders lead the wrong things that make organisations lose their sense of purpose
  6. Community fundraising is often in its own bubble and often isn’t served as well as it could be by the rest of the organisation
  7. Products become things with their own life rather than things designed to serve purpose
  8. The intense practical nature of community fundraisers means they move onto delivery sometimes too fast
  9. Strategy in community takes purpose for granted rather than defining as core and guiding
  10. In the vacuum Community Fundraisers invent their own versions rather than find, define and use a core accepted and used purpose with discipline and …..purpose

These factors are strategic killers. They drive Community Fundraising away from the very thing that can deliver. Without purpose there is nothing of substance and direction, just froth. So how easy is it to find the glowing compass of purpose? At the NSPCC we had one overwhelming, simple, clear and clarifying strategic purpose.

To end cruelty to children

We didn’t start with what we did. We started with why we were doing it. Inspiring and engaging a community to support that goal first then translated into money second. Since then and with many organisations I have worked in and for, I have challenged people to move these strategic killers to one side and embrace clarity, passion, inspiration and determination around purpose. Purpose at strategic level and for the cause and problem being solved and purpose for the function and its role and approach. Strategy can then follow purpose. It requires these 10 things to find that purpose and drive

  1. Leadership – top down, bottom up
  2. Courage – stop doing the wrong thing and embrace the right thing
  3. An ability to decide – once explored a decision
  4. Emotional energy that turns into a cold logic – one should lead to the other
  5. Authority (from somewhere) – consensus with authority through a good process to drive through
  6. Space to explore, and define – room to engage, innovate and go the journey
  7. A small but deliberate process – steps taken to find purpose systematically and deliberately
  8. Challenge and creativity – involving others, looking for grit, engaging external guidance and challenges
  9. Honesty and clarity – solve the problem by articulating the problem, then once clarity is found, test
  10. Will power – determination to succeed

This list is about the leadership skills needed to address the purpose challenge in Community Fundraising. Being able to identify it as a problem and to then engage a wider gang to be part of the solutions builds the cultural change that can transform teams. Steps taken with help from outside and with purpose can lead to the greatest outcome and clarity available to raise more money

Purpose

If you’d like to hear more about Good Leaders or upcoming Community Fundraising events, programmes, coaching, strategic reviews, creation sessions, team days and training or want to explore a Purpose workshop, click here to receive more information

Once upon a time we called every fundraising product ‘athon’. Spellathon. Danceathon. Aerobathon. Easy world then, but now naming a product of activity can make or break its success, especially in the emerging and strong world of Community Fundraising. As you review and refresh your strategy, product development often emerges as a key theme. So here are some steps and tips to help you go through the process to name your product, and some links that might help.

Firstly, it may be worth investing in a creative agency. Getting a product named so it sits comfortably in the marketing and promotional push can save a lot of time and help get the cut through you need. The key is in the brief, so whether you have an agency or not, or you are briefing a comms team or are going to do this in-house, consider the same process that you might take in hiring an external. Get a great brief together.  Its a good discipline whatever size organisation you are in. Creating the brief sets the ground rules and criteria, captures and clarifies your thinking, articulates clearly to others and you can hold everyone to the brief. So either way, start here with this suggested content in your brief

  1. Purpose – what is the purpose, the point, the why. Define this up front and keep it simple
  2. Promise – what are you promising to deliver, the experience, the value
  3. Pain or problem – what gap, pain or problem are you planning to solve or address
  4. Concept – define your product or event.  A single sentence stating what it is. This is the key sentence.
  5. Unique – what makes this
  6. Impact – what will you do with the money? what difference or impact will you make with the money you raise? This is closely linked to purpose
  7. Goal – slightly different. A specific aim or goal you are aiming for.
  8. Target – raise x by y by z, any KPI’s – a few good ones are much better than lots of average and not helpful
  9. Audience – who is this aimed for and where are they. What do they like and what don’t they like?
  10. Market – Who is doing what in the same territory or product area?

Here are some tips for a product naming process. Firstly, the product needs to get as close as possible with naming what it is. Don’t be too clever or intellectual, with a name that you get because of the work that you do, but your audience wont have a clue. Make it easy to say and write. Keep it simple. Its ok to have a strap line to do the explaining – this will be critical in messaging anyway, so use it. Brandwatch have a very effective and to the point blog with 5 golden rules to name a product, so check this out at How to Name a Product: 5 Golden Rules we followThere are some great articles on creating brand or product names – Try Big Brand System, for a great article on the process.  Wordoid is website to generate names where you select key words and it will generate ideas.

So now the process to create:

  1. Get together a great gang….mix it up with a small session of creative types and those who aren’t as obviously creative! It’s a great way to break down silos and drive up engagement so get a room with the right mix of people first and role second. Get brand involved but its your show and product for your audience. 
  2. Brief the room with a quick overview especially purpose and concept. Write it on a flip chart and stick it on the wall
  3. Use key words and dimensions to the concept and purpose. Don’t forget imagery, video and other stimuli. Generate lots of these. Focus on these first as they are your initial ingredients. When, where, how, who, what, everything about and around
  4. Consider other creation processes6.3.5 model – this has a table of 6 people, who each write 3 ideas and then move them around the table 5 times so people can add. There is a lot of evidence now in giving people time on their own to think, so consider sending a short explainer before and asking people to think about it and bring it to the session. Maybe start with a quiet personal 10 mins, everyone writes their own ideas with no discussion first.
  5. Then cluster key words and phrases that cluster around areas or themes
  6. Use a thesaurus  to find new versions of key words, and synonyms
  7. A name creation brainstorm – follow these brainstorm rules from Forbes
  8. Don’ lose anything or close down at this stage!! Keep going!!
  9. At some point stop, and review. When you start to get some frontrunners emerge get some rational sense of certain one and check these against the criteria and the list above
  10. Then walk away and let the left brain process and then revisit and test on a few people the frontrunners. It’s wise to do this – get the initial view, check out domain names and any copyrights, any clashes, but emerging names will feel right then can be validated. Don’t seek everyone’s approval though….do enough to get a good view then decide and deliver

Follow these tips and you’ll create a great product name and deliver a great campaign. If you want to go further and review and refresh your Community Fundraising strategy, join in with my free webinar How to review and refresh you Community Fundraising strategy on August 18th at 12pm GMT. To register click here

If you’d like to hear more about Good Leaders or the upcoming Community Fundraising events, programmes, coaching, strategic reviews, creation sessions, team days and training, click here to receive more information

 

Do you remember achieving something remarkable? Something that you had built, had changed? For some, achievements are huge…for some, small and every day.

Connecting with what achievement feels and looks like makes it more likely it will be recognised. More importantly its more likely it will be repeated. From small steps having been through treatment and illness and then on the road to recovery, to building something physical to something abstract, a mission delivered, a goal achieved. So, at the end of 2016 and ahead of 2017 take a look at this video. This is in the big achievement world. Really big. But look at what goes on. Look at the faces, the humanity, the sense of one, the shared goal, the part everyone plays. Look at the emotion, the tears, the screams, the physical contact, the smiles, the leadership, the team. I defy you not to be moved and inspired.

 

We aren’t all building a rocket, though Elon Musk is. But we are all achieving. Everyday, despite what seems like endless obstacles we still achieve. Every story of success, life saved, home found, life extended, breath taken, hand held, smile made, building built, phone call received, life changed.

Let’s stand with each other and cheer, and cry and clap and scream just a little bit more in 2017

After all, it’s really not rocket science.

Happy new year!

 

 

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The village fete in english summer sunshine. Rows of stalls around the green and the makeshift stage, held together by committees and clubs, by local heroes of all generations

Among the tombolas, the tea, the crafts, and the cakes you encounter sweet moments of gentleness and civility, of enterprise and giving, of order, nostalgia and ritual yet happy chaos and impulse. A place on display, at its best, at its most magnificint. Full witness to how generations share and hand on together. The village fete is once every so often, but this goes on quietly the next day and the next and every day.

A short reflection after a sun kissed afternoon in England is that this is not just about this ideal place on this perfect day. It happens everywhere, with everyone who makes it happen. And where this mixture, this potent life force does exist, then each generation they touch stands a real chance of living life to its full. Of belonging. Of handing on. Of giving more than taking.

This is the currency of community.

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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.

If you want to find out more about the use of these words and more in creating an engaging legacy friendly organisation then, take part in my upcoming webinar How to create a legacy friendly organisation on August 18th at 12pm GMT – to register click here

 

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The sun is shining. Early morning London stirs, its arteries held for the later procession of humanity. Road side places are captured, banners are hung, flags are raised as bleary eyed runners and families emerge from planes, trains and tubes. The stories are about to begin.

There are few words that sum up the unique and humbling collection of inspiration that is The London Marathon. Every year, from near and far, 36,000 take to the streets to achieve their personal challenge spurred on by a story. It may be their own recovery or survival, or it may be their memory of someone they love or have loved. Perhaps some connection they made that sparked a promise to do this huge feat to support a cause, some personal promise to another, some private moment we may never know. All matter. It’s a celebration of everything remarkable. Its spirit.

In the roads around the running stories are more stories. Streets swelling with crowds of families, friends, volunteers, charity staff, onlookers detached but swept up in the atmosphere. Hand made notes mingle with branded balloons and the noise of names called, and charities shouted for, and fancy dressed brave eccentrics sprinkling the never-ending tide of vests, numbers and names. Every one a story. The mother or father seeing their son or daughter defiant and alive achieve. The children, anxious for a glimpse of mum and their pride at their triumph. The partners who woke at 6 every day as their loved ones drove themselves to this beautiful sunday. Groups of supporters raising money because that is the best way they can help out, take part, belong, do their bit. Charity staff whose whole day for weeks, even months is taken up with the love, care and nurturing of their team. Charity staff who have turned up to cheer, first timers and veterans, and volunteers and supporters anxious to lift their people and help carry them over the line.

Story is at its heart. Struggle, resolution. No one leaves the London Marathon quite the same. Its humbling and inspiring, its dramatic, its warm and human, its full to the brim of the best where ordinary meets extraordinary. Monday, sore feet and legs, and the glow of Sundays achievement can soon get forgotten. So what can we learn and maybe do differently or a little better in the glow of sunday sunshine. 5 reflections.

  1. Every story should be heard, acknowledged and shared. Every story. It’s all personal.
  2. Charity staff should attend at least once wherever you work, whatever you do. It’s the most perfect opportunity to connect with donors
  3. Every family member and member of each runners group need as much recognition, love and looking after as each runner. They are as important
  4. Shared experience never dies. Connect them, keep them together, share memories and through them inspire others
  5. What could be better next time and how? The best time to make next year really wow is in the next few weeks

Not every one can do a marathon. But everyone should bow their heads in respect to the amazing culmination of personal journey and collective good. It’s what we are about.

 

 

 

 

 

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