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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 It’s been replaced by tools, digital, social media.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.

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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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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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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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.

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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.

 

facts or myths determine

We need trustees. Good ones, calm ones, listening ones. But sometimes, some of our trustees believe weird things. Like conspiracy theories that gain currency, some trustees can interpret their understandable and limited knowledge with the gossip and hearsay that sometimes surround fundraising. A dangerous and toxic mix we need to avoid if we are to move forward. So here are a few we hear every so often and a few slightly exasperated yet young in cheek responses I am sure we have all felt but may not have said.

  1. You don’t need to spend money to raise money – Yes well it’s all for free isn’t it, like lunch or a free gift. Except it isn’t. It costs. Simple as.
  2. You can get your money back really fast – McDonald’s are to blame for this one. In some cases you can. But for most, well we need to be patient and plan
  3. Fundraising is like selling really – Well to be fair it is isn’t it….well it isn’t. So accepting some similarities for ease, we need time to expand this one, but for now it just isn’t
  4. Fundraisers are responsible for raising money – it’s not everyone else’s job – No comment.
  5. We don’t really need to pay staff to raise money – Frankly we aren’t worth it to be honest. Why pay? See 1.
  6. We spend too much on admin and overheads – Define? Exactly. Please someone. Watch Dan Pallotta and discuss.
  7. We need a new audience – Completely. Nasty old rich people a? You know the ones giving us the money right now, lets ignore them and go elsewhere more trendy?
  8. We are ok not to tell people what the money is for – Cash machines, walking wallets, etc. Contempt breeds contempt
  9. We know best – By yourself you don’t. With professionals working together, we know enough to get the job done and done well

So these are the myths that sometimes surface. Chase them and confront them. But before it gets to that, educate, explain, inform. And remember, all it takes for nonsense to triumph is for good people to say nothing

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