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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!

 

 

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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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As we find the way forward in fundraising we need to remember the past and present. Motivation. The core of human achievement and where we must always be.

There is no science to this other than experience, instinct and observation. But here are 9 motivators for fundraising. The drivers we need to understand and be along side.

  1. Love of – The prime driver. Love of a cause, person or experience
  2. Dare – A gauntlet thrown down and picked up
  3. Challenge – A quest to prove. A test for oneself or family or friends. A personal test
  4. Change – To create change in something or someone
  5. Build – To make something new
  6. Save – A saviour, to keep something special and of value, to stand up for
  7. Repair – Restore, put right, fix and establish in a new world what was once
  8. Belong – To join in and be part of, a gang and community together
  9. Guilt – Fear, guilt as a driver that is the least attractive but real and alive

Motivation is what makes change and fundraising can be the route to make the most change – personally as well as together

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How about this. Choose the charity you work for rather than they choose you. Find an adventure.

Choose a mission and a cause. Choose a bright future and an urgent now. See a way to make a mark, a dent in the universe. Choose leadership. Choose personality, atmosphere, a team, a gang. Choose a journey and a path. Find somewhere to build yourself, learn, and grow. Choose somewhere to fail as well as you choose to succeed and deliver. They will even out and you will be further forward.

Select them like a house or a home or a partner. Raise your expectations. Find higher love.

Choose.

As Jaime Lyn Beatty said “A job will fill your pockets. Adventures fill your soul”

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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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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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