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Not for profit

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

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!

 

 

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.

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When Remember a Charity was born, the founders took a leap of faith. With no immediate return they could see that working together, there was a chance that a campaign might just be able to grow the market in the future. Looking back we should applaud them – because that is exactly what they have done. And more. And not just in the UK.

Remember A Charity has evolved in that time. Honing a model and approach that has embraced behaviour change or social marketing, the campaign blends consumer campaigns with leverage through partnerships and uses its member base to amplify and engage. The campaign returns this month with Remember a Charity in your Will Week from the 12th-18th September. The campaign will call on the British public to pass on something legendary, tweeting their advice for future generations at #MyWisdom and remembering a charity in their Will. 2016 marks the seventh year of Remember A Charity’s legacy giving week, during which charities, Government, solicitors and Will-writers will all come together to encourage the public to leave a gift to charity in their Will.

The bottom line is that more people are actually doing it. From 12% in 2007 to 17% in 2014 and a further increase this last year as the campaign has just reported. This is the sort of news that every member of the campaign throughout the last 14 years should take a moment to reflect on and celebrate. Momentum brings further momentum. I am writing this, just finishing a week in Australia speaking to brilliant legacy fundraisers through the Australian campaign Include a charity. They are making real progress too. Last week I spoke with a revised Dutch campaign about a new phase in their journey. And as a former Remember a Charity chairman and now working globally with charities on legacies, there are a number of countries with new campaigns and each are taking key steps to start to change behaviour and increase the number of gifts in wills in their countries.

Baby boomers are estimated to be worth $46 trillion USD of wealth and over the next 30 years or so will hand on this wealth to a new generation. Charities everywhere have a strong case to give these generous people who have given to charity in life the chance to leave something after they have gone. This is not a leap of faith anymore. Its a global movement. So don’t forget to take part in the campaign. #MyWisdom awaits your wisdom and your contribution.

Remember a Charity now has its own legacy. We all join charities to change the world. And this campaign might just do exactly that.

 

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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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Middle managers. Salt of the earth. Engines for action. Guardians of delivery. Middle managers need love and attention if they are to do what needs to be done to make things happen. Coaching, nudging, counselling and direction.

The leadership deficit affects middle managers. Unsure of above they can’t shine for below. Looking sideways they find solace in colleagues so they often look like a gang, projecting a tribal confidence. Sometimes they struggle because they are over promoted. Sometimes they struggle because they are too talented but locked in. Sometimes they just long to get on with it. Deliver and excel. Glow.

So here’s some helpful wisdom and tips for the much-needed tribe of middle managers

1. Keep looking above you – understand your boss and their needs and challenges. If you fail they fail. Help them.

2. Keep learning. You must grow. It’s your duty to yourself, so keep learning and improving

3. Build space for yourself. Room to think and reflect. Space to resolve and perspective to get it right

4. Be self-aware and open. Ask for feedback. Every now and then only, or you will look needy rather than open. Be aware of how you behave, why and when and correct where you need to

5. Know yourself. What are your strengths? Do them every day. Don’t worry about your weaknesses except if you are doing a job that is your weakness. If so move.

6. Define success – Be clear on what success looks like. You, them, everybody.

7. Focus on next but never forget what’s gone – Have a view on whats next but also what’s past – goals and KPIs, a to do list yes but more important a rolling done list

8. Build your portfolio – Your marketing brochure for you, your personal brand and offer and evidence

9. Listen to your people – They are smart. Not always right but that’s irrelevant. Listen to facts, emotion, feelings, fears and hopes. Then act.

10. Focus everyone on the external – Heres the order to where you need to look – the world, the donor, the cause, the work, the organisation, the team. Everyone works better when they focus on what really matters

Rise up middle managers. Lead from the middle. More power than anyone – so use it wisely and for the right reasons.

 

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