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I saw a session once at a conference once upon a time where people tried to pitch, in that way in our head we all think of as a pitch – formal, stand in front of, presentation etc. Well, here’s the truth. They couldnt and they didn’t. I remember sitting there thinking what have I just seen. It was, well, just plain bad. It set me thinking.

I’ve watched over time, a creeping loss of the skill and art of pitching. It’s been replaced by tools, digital, social media. Its been overlaid with brand and ‘key messages’. Its been undermined with a lack of trust. Its been eroded by a world more connected that ever and equally much less connected. I’ve watched fundraisers under pressure to connect and reach out on one hand and on the other paralysed with fear. Of course I’ve seen some pitching genius through this. I’ve watched street and face to face fundraisers do amazing things to engage and pitch under extreme conditions. I’ve seen major gift fundraisers pitch big projects of change, real dreams and huge opportunities. I’ve seen Community fundraisers connect on every level. But if I’m honest it’s not the norm, and whats out there is sometimes not up to it.

The word pitch is a loaded word in fundraising. There is the tribe who hates it. There is the tribe who relish it. There is the tribe that haven’t thought about it. But how can a new relationship with pitch, help us become a bit more deliberate, to lean in a bit, to show some confidence, to ask again with some flair.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary pitch means a speech or act that attempts to persuade someone to buy or do something. In this context, its pretty innocent and quite simple. The issue for the haters of the word is that sell is there. The connotation that as fundraisers we are selling, rather than having meaningful conversations, feels like it undermines the purity we strive for in the fundraising process. For this tribe its loaded understanding reinforces what we are not, rather than what we may be. I was at AFP Toronto, and the day before I was doing a session on pitching to the brilliant Canadian fundraising community, we had a discussion in the bar about the word pitch. A story about a board member whose commercial instincts were flowing, had stated that we must pitch, only to be challenged that we shouldn’t pitch, we should begin conversations. We explored the motives and the barriers. As always, right and wrong blur.

A few days later I recounted the story to another revered fundraiser who took a completely opposite view. Maybe the definition was in the traditional space we know, a pitch presentation to a company but the relish was there and a clarity that to pitch was what we did and do. Own it. So, the word pitch is polarising. But if we allow it to bring its baggage in then we do ourselves an injustice. We need a new confidence and a new sense of purpose.

If you look at the landscape of fundraising, the most obvious pitchers are face to face fundraisers in the street. Perhaps that’s why it provokes equal Marmite reactions. A pitch can feel disruptive and people don’t like to feel pitched at. In the commercial world, the redefinition of pitch is also taking place. Its loaded sense of ‘selling’ turns off people and entrepreneurs are equally seeking to engage, inspire and intrigue, to build rapport and relationship and solve customers problems rather than simply sell. But this distinction is hard to sometimes see, and here lies the problem. If we allow ourselves to be too soft in our approach, then we stop leaning in, we lose the deliberate process that an old-fashioned pitch used to have. That perhaps is why we feel more comfortable in a presentation to a company for a charity of the year – its whats expected, but what about every day.

So the opportunity is to use the sense of a pitch in a new way and much broader way, mixing the deliberate goal of engaging and asking with the inspiration and conversation we are good at. All too often we find ourselves reacting to supporters, servicing them and nurturing those that raise their hands rather than go out and get new supporters by being the ones to start a conversation. Street fundraisers have to lean in – how can we take some of that in all our other areas, just enough to rediscover a new purpose for pitching in fundraising that enhances and inspires.

As I have explored this subject I have noticed that when we understand how people react to a pitch, we are in a much better place to learn how to do it in a way that is right for us and right for the supporter.  Looking at the many ways commercial pitches are made and matching them to our world I have created 7 steps to a great fundraising pitch. It gives us a deliberate framework and mindset so we can be more proactive at a time when we need to be, but in a way that is right for the fundraising process, but it also takes account of the science of the pitch, how people hear and receive and the right and wrong way to connect to be heard and to inspire action.

If you’re interested in taking a day to rediscover how to pitch in your fundraising, to move you and your team to a more proactive approach with more confidence using a step by step framework, then join me for the Pitch Driven Fundraising Workshop on the 6th February and I’ll show you how to become proactive, deliberate and focused on your everyday fundraising to engage more people and organisations to support you. For more information click, here. Places are limited.

If we can rediscover some confidence and apply the right tools, then we can reach out, inspire people and raise more money. Lets learn to pitch for good.

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

Travel is a theme I keep coming back to. In those moments on the road, when you get to see, hear and feel the essence of motivation and inspiration becomes a tonic freely fed, It’s easy to reflect on the higher order of the jobs we do rather than the day-to-day detail challenges. I like to tell stories and I like to write in this zone. The more I see the more I feel the need to share it. I’ve given up worrying if people don’t like it or I may embarrass myself, but even then I often write in a moment and when it’s passed I forget to share. So here’s a piece from my recent trip to New Zealand an Australia. Whilst watching paragliders sail from the sky to the beach in Olu Deniz, Turkey, I rediscovered it when looking back at my writing, and it was clear this was a special trip and I think I had caught the essence of it. I regret not posting it directly so here it is.

I’m sitting in a cafe, next to the lapping waters of the harbour at Sydney.  Its late afternoon, and the autumn sun is powerful and bold. Across the water is the iconic Harbour Bridge, with the Opera House to my right. I have a cup of tea and the brightest coloured bird you have ever seen has just landed at my table to eat the sugar. For once I am present.

Last week I attended the FINZ (Fundraising Institute of New Zealand) Conference in the glorious Queenstown. Having arrived the weekend before in Auckland, I had flown in between mountains capped with snow and sparkling lakes, bounded by a carpet of pointing deep green pines. The bus ride to the town, was followed by a short walk through the streets to the hotel, perched so close to the lake you could throw a stone and see the ripples. One by one, Fundraisers arrived from all over this remarkable country and after breakfast, I began my Legacy Masterclass. The room was bounded on the right with a complete window from ceiling to floor, and beyond the full-scale of Lake Wakatipu and the mountains beyond, the edge of the Remarkables as they are called, framing the view. No second was the same. Clouds, light, shadows and sun competed to draw our sight. Every so often the steamship TSS Earnslaw sailed by, a 1912 coal driven ship, blowing its horn to say look at me. We  did of course. No point I was making could complete with such a sight. Through the day we circled the legacy challenge, explored our fears, challenged our views and developed a bond. By the end of the day we were practically family.

By the end of the week, and several sessions later, a gala dinner arrived at by a ski gondola, and the ups and downs of the bar we had arrived at the final plenary that I presented with relish. Become a Fundraising Leader was the theme and I found myself connecting with the faces before me. I finished on spirit and why it matters in a country where I had seen nothing but spirit.

Afterwards I found myself on a walk around the lake in the sunshine and clear blue skies. It was cold but the light was crystal clear, like seeing in high-definition someone said. Five of us, who through the magic of connections and previous worlds and then present opportunities had found ourselves reflecting on everything there was to reflect on as we walked. Eventually, we arrived at a cafe directly on the lakes beach in front of the town. The lake was still, with no wind and a clear blue sky, and there we sat with a beer, blankets and a fading sun. The temperature dropped. We talked and laughed and then reluctantly, not wanting to lose the moment, went for dinner. It was a truly magical few hours.

Yesterday, as I arrived late in Sydney city centre, I went for a final late night beer. In the bar the music was playing. Some songs can conjure a moment from many years ago. A recall button. The song was irrelevant, but there i was arriving for the AFP conference in San Diego 15 years ago, and meeting with other British fundraisers organised by the ever thoughtful Tony Elischer. There he stood, bringing people together, hosting, connecting, giving. A San Diego bar and a moment with Tony. As I remembered the moment and sipped my beer, I reflected on the times we had worked together. And one moment when we had mapped out an approach that we felt certain was what fundraising and donors needed to understand. Hearts, minds of course. But spirit was the key. We drew it, rehearsed it, explored it. I never forgot it. The ever brilliant Tony Elischer and his spirit. Remembered.

So, today as the sun goes down I was thinking about spirit and the moments I have connected with in this latest travel. How they are woven together. How it gives depth and meaning. How random unplanned moments collide. How memories come back to guide us. How people in the past and in the present can still shine. How the natural world can speak to us, when we least expect and most need.

I have not mentioned a single fundraising technique or tip or idea here. They are important of course. But every so often we need to have given space to spirit.

 

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 or email me at stephen@goodleaders.com

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

 

Make me feel. If you want me to do something make me feel. Make me care.

This new ad from the Sick Kids Foundation in Canada and reported on in the thestar.com is an undeniable assault on emotions. Launched during the Toronto Maple Leafs home opener this Saturday, the Sick Kids Vs Undeniable campaign rattles at your door, and when open it bursts through. Some ads for commercial products do that, but they are for department stores or insurance or furniture. They know that feeling is the difference and the product is second. That’s why business seeks to stir values and emotional connection. Maybe bigger budgets allow that, but this is our natural territory. So many times we see the deepest reservoir of emotional content in our causes portrayed with barely a ripple, and when it is without the energy, bravery or even worse to a formula where its authenticity and honesty are drowned. Not so in this campaign. Get ready.

 

I defy you to tell me you didn’t feel. Everything was there. Edge, beauty, tragedy, courage, heart-break, love, compassion, spirit. This is the ad that fights back as an ad, let alone provokes a fight back against kids being sick. It blends all these together. Sight, sound, music, words, loud and soft and at the end not only do I feel, but it’s what I feel that moves me to want to stand with them.

As I look around at the landscape of campaign material the sector produces, I sometimes wonder if we are even awake, let alone angry, or inspired or passionate enough to cut through with this sort of quality. Sure we have and we do….but its not enough.

What do you think? Share and see and above all feel.

listening

There is an essential logic in fundraising. Hearts, minds and cash. The mantra for this is no gift is made without emotion to drive it.  The moment you connect. A close spark or bond created. This remains true above all with legacy gifts. But we often focus on function first – wills, probate, tax. Maybe we are scared. Maybe we don’t  understand. Maybe we don’t know. Either way it’s not where transformational legacy gifts sit and it’s not where donors start.  Here’s 10 emotional connections for legacy fundraising to get you connecting

  1. Find your founder story and relive it though the eyes of your founders
  2. Systematically collect and share stories
  3. Recognise long-term consideration of a gift will start with an emotional connection
  4. Understand the motivation for giving is emotional and won’t always be remembered
  5. Teach your organisation to be able to have a legacy conversation as you would to a trusted friend
  6. Show the work and the inspirational transformation made by legacy gifts
  7. Join up legacy admin so its part of the gift process and joy of giving
  8. Do everything possible to make face to face happen
  9. Reassure donors about their fears and barriers – soothe them
  10. Find and use your own personal connection to legacies

So – uncover the emotion, dig deep, be brave, open your hearts – but above all, connect.

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Thank you. Simple words and simple sentiment. Trips off the tongue and the page. Yet in reality, it can be completely boring we don’t even see it. Time for an upgrade.

First thing first. Why is it boring? Because it doesn’t feel like its heartfelt. A template more likely. Where is the art? Where is the love? If you were delivering a thank you speech you would give it a lot more attention wouldn’t you? But a letter. So imagine treating it like a creative writing exercise. As if you meant o connect and meant to make them sparkle when they saw it. Wouldn’t that be magic? So to upgrade do this.

  1. Keep some structure in your head – hello, what they did, the difference, thank you, where next, more
  2. See the person in front and see how they might feel
  3. Now upgrade to making a connection as if they are your friend (because in fundraising, friend raising comes first remember)
  4. Now flow, just write with love

Here’s a letter that appeared in a local newspaper saying thank you for a collection.

Untitled 2.001

A sleep walking letter. But what if you created some art. Here’s the same thank you.

Imagine the scene last January outside Tesco’s. Streams of shoppers place gifts one by one into collecting tins held by warm-hearted but cold fingered volunteers. By a warm fire later, each volunteer was able to smile at the sum of those cold fingers – £1317 for our hospice. That’s the price for 5 nights of Hospice at Home care giving families the break they need from daily caring.

Thank you really matters, because without those volunteers and shoppers, we could not deliver the love and care we are able to daily. We wanted to share our thank you publicly.

We would love others to join us and help us do more. Its an inspiring place – everyone is welcome in our family – so if you are interested and want to explore please send me an email at XXXX or call me on XXXXXX.

Thats’s how you upgrade. Love and art. Try it.

 

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