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 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.

A second salute in two weeks. Barnardo’s ad is brave and hits hard. A clever contrast that highlights stolen childhoods for so many children with the difference that care and support can make. It could have done with a tighter call to action at the end…but good for Barnardo’s for not shying away from a subject that needs this level of directness.

This is tough. Brave, hard-hitting, honest, heartbreaking, direct, emotional. A powerful authentic story. Controversial but required. A rallying call. A solution. This is the sort of ad that floors you. Save the Children...I salute you.

Thank you. Simple stuff maybe, and simply done makes a world of difference. But sometimes, the heartfelt message needs a little edge. Video continues to grow – from TV ads to simple home shot shorts. Some people seem to get it just right….so here are 5 great examples to inspire….

First Charity: Water – an upbeat use of staff to say thank you whilst showing that they are saying thank you.. you really get the sense that you matter

Next Child’s i foundation – a perfect heartfelt story of need and solution, told simply and honestly – a lovely thank you…

Now Invisible Children – another upbeat staff driven thank you but with an impact report as a moving infographic, with a simple thank you…

This Freedom from Torture video was shared at the IOF Convention and was used at a dinner as part of the evening. Clever build up from one to many just simply applauding you….nice

And finally the NSPCC Christmas TV ad – this was sponsored by suppliers and uses children in a school play to say thank you. It was aired on Christmas day as well….

Sometimes commercial brands can build whole campaigns around the concept of saying thank you – as in P&G Thank you mom campaign for the Olympics. I’ve long been an advocate of collective campaigns from the voluntary and charity sector to promote giving in the UK…..a simple thank you campaign would be a pretty good place to start…..

30th-BirthdayThe institute of Fundraising is celebrating its 30th birthday at its annual Convention. It’s an opportunity to reflect and celebrate how far we have come in british fundraising. But equally its a time to step up and shape the next 30 years.

A lot has changed since 1983 as the BBC reflected as it celebrated 30 years of Breakfast TV. The march of technology, the growth in wealth & living standards, the flourishing of enterprise and choice all can’t hide the urgency and need that exists around our world. Fundraising has organised, learnt, innovated, raised standards, learnt new skills, attracted new people, reached new audiences and over that time has transformed the world. The donor, the fundraiser and the beneficiary. It continues to do so.

It’s good to know we belong to something that transforms. As we look back on our achievements and the hills we have climbed together, its sometimes good to remember through the small steps, the single personal memories, the inconsequential, the quirky. When we look back at our life events we often see them through a soundtrack, a joke, a funny story, a tear, a photo. They provide a window on the roundness of our achievements, our failures, our regrets. The whole can sometimes be seen through the small – and when joined up, shows the richness we may have forgotten.

I became a fundraiser on June 2nd 1983. So it’s 30 years for me too. I joined the IOF that very same year, thrilled at the prospect of belonging and making better, of learning. If there was one big influence on me, it was the institute, the annual convention, the sharing. As I look back over that time, I thought about an overwhelming treasure chest of memories, the good and bad, the success and the failure, the donors, the colleagues, the people who needed us, achievement, regret, fun and heart touching moments of overwhelming inspiration, passion, love and joy. So, for my 30 year reflection, as the Institute celebrates 30 years, here are my 30 memories from 1983 to now. There are millions more than this of course, but its a list that shows that it’s the mix that makes the magic for me. Big and small, sad and happy, funny and moving. Here goes….

  1. Watching Live Aid and being overwhelmed by the video with the Cars soundtrack– then watching Bob Geldof shout at us to give
  2. Collecting a reel of film in a cardboard box at a talk at Luton Ladies Circle because I forgot the other reel – pre video….I know…(your age may make this memory pointless)
  3. Starting a Friday Fax to share success in the week – cutting edge (do you remember when you first saw a fax come through?…again, your age may make this memory pointless)
  4. Watching Giles Pegram speak at a staff conference and swelling with pride – really getting what fundraising was about and for, and never ever forgetting his clarity, passion, determination and courage
  5. Collecting a cheque for a million pounds – and for much less of course
  6. Spraying corporate sponsors at a reception with a rampant bottle of champagne I had opened wrongly and had then inexplicably placed my fingers over the top….slow motion playback…I hit most of them as well
  7. Blisters on my fingers blowing up white balloons for a national balloon race, only to have the balloons bounce across a field and in to the woods
  8. Being told off by the Duke of York at a Regional Appeal Board meeting during the Full Stop Appeal
  9. Laying down on a road after the party with the UNICEF team at the convention in Warwick University campus
  10. My first IOF presentation on Regional Fundraising done with slides on a carousel
  11. Speaking at a branch meeting in Devon where I got locked in the loo just before I spoke and in 90 degrees of heat….sauna in a suit…
  12. Seeing growing babies being weighed on a set of scales bought by UNICEF in a clinic full of beautiful children and smiling mothers in a village in Indonesia
  13. Being secretly tape recorded by angry volunteers in Northern Ireland when I tried to close a shop that was losing money (they sent the tape to the UN….) Also had a petition sent to the Queen once but that’s another story….
  14. Celebrating an IPA Effectiveness award for Remember a Charity – and watching our first humour led TV ad appear live on TV
  15. My leaving party with the Legacy team at the NSPCC….best send off in my life and the most love in a room ever
  16. Sitting in a cafe pouring a little confidence into a fundraising talent that had lost their way – a lot of the best work was done in cafe’s in one to ones, just talking, dreaming, deciding
  17. Hearing the phrase from an upset volunteer “you come up here in your Saville row suit”…Marks & Spencer’s actually…it was a head office thing that was all,
  18. Picking up coins and cash in my car in post offices in rural Cambridgeshire from the annual house to house collection, listening to the radio – with no mobile phones either
  19. Taking the last beer out of the last vending machine at 4.30am at IFC and being with the last few left before breakfast
  20. Hearing Marion Wright Edelman at my first AFP in San Diego talking about children – profoundly moving
  21. Walking in Southwold, looking at the inspiring plaques on the rail on the pier and suddenly getting the magic of legacies and what I could do about it – a big turning point
  22. Being told by Henry Drucker in a lift after a solicitation meeting, that I wasnt mad, to stick to my guns and to believe in myself
  23. Finding and hiring some amazing people (and sadly having to lose some but hopefully always with kindness)
  24. Seeing a donor tell a board of very high value people about her abuse as a child
  25. Sitting at the kitchen table, having a cup of tea at Maggie’s in Edinburgh on my first week and listening to Angus tell me about getting cancer and why his life was transformed by visiting Maggie’s
  26. Doing a TV interview about Jade Goody at the London Marathon in the rain in a hastily found but far too small branded sweatshirt – looked like a telly tubby in a pond
  27. Discovering that you can illustrate every plan, strategy and approach using a triangle
  28. Experiencing a ghost in an office late one evening while completing a mailing, and running out the door without locking up
  29. Convention bars and dance floors….obviously best not to go there really, but always a life affirming joy
  30. Watching an AGM erupt with emotion when they voted to change the name of The Spastics Society to Scope

I have many more. So do you. Don’t forget them.

The power of story is the core of great fundraising. Sometimes the power of story to connect and amplify emotional connection is what fundraisers need to help craft their own stories.

So here are my 20 top films (in no special order) that might help fundraisers and givers to fan a few flames of inspiration.

  1. Field of Dreams – the power of conviction, belief and faith when everyone else can’t see what you can
  2. Up – unlikely alliances make dreams come true
  3. Forrest Gump – the triumph of optimism and seeing the very best in people
  4. A matter of life or death – a 1946 classic where love and conviction overcomes the impossible
  5. Schindlers List – in the midst of the worst of human depravity, one man, Oskar Schindler, makes a  difference
  6. The Bucket List – the dying wishes and last hopes of two men, one rich and one poor are explored, expanded and enriched in their last days. A living in memoriam testament.
  7. A Song for Marion – loss and grief give way to a celebration of life and new beginnings
  8. The Shawshank Redemption –  hope, redemption and triumph through small acts of kindness
  9. The Exorcist – nothing to do with fundraising, I just like the bit where the head spins 360 – actually that’s just like fundraising
  10. Citizen Kane – a lost childhood affects your whole life. Whilst money can’t buy love, fundraisers might argue differently
  11. It’s a wonderful life – the perfect christmas appeal. An ordinary life made extraordinary every day by recognising that each act with each person matters
  12. Slumdog Millionaire – through honesty and integrity, life’s experiences give you the answers you need
  13. The Help – ‘you is kind, you is smart, you is important’ – the best affirmation for any one
  14. Back to the Future – nostalgia – delicate but potent according to Don Draper. This romp back and forth in time explores what ifs better than any film…..and even the film itself is nostalgic
  15. The Kings Speech – human fear and frailty at elite levels, reminding us that we are all human from whatever part of society
  16. Rain Man – Simply the acceptance of others through consistency and recognised difference. A perfect lesson in diversity
  17. Titanic – so-called experts can get it wrong in spectacular style sometimes
  18. Brief Encounter – doing the right thing
  19. Star Wars – good triumphs evil against all odds, especially if you have a light saber, the force and a Jedi knight as a mate
  20. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – nothing is ever too late

And finally – 21. Dead Poets Society – whatever happens, carpe diem, seize the day….

Take a long hard look at this new John Lewis TV ad for christmas 2011 and this ad for Thomson Holidays…what can you learn..?
These sum up insight, brand values, emotional connection, creativity, love, the blend of image and sound, the identification with the customer and audience, aspiration, bravery, boldness, gentle and subtle, powerful.  They make you think about you..and its not about the money spent. Its fascinating that they are a department store and a travel agent …and we change the world. Here they have got it so right …and too many times we get it so wrong….we need to raise the bar…..
%d bloggers like this: