Tuesday, 26 August 2014

On the #IceBucketChallenge

So as a fundraiser I couldn't not comment on this....phenomenon.

First of all I am still so amazed at the virality of this campaign. I have never seen something spread so fast and so BIG! I've never seen so many celebrities from all backgrounds and across the world get involved in something of this size for charity. Children in Need and Comic Relief pale in comparison. Yes of course they can't be seen to "not" do it and it's all positive publicity but still. I've never had my newsfeed so completely filled with friends and contacts doing the same thing for charity.

I am so impressed with the charity it started for and the UK equivalent. A relativity unknown condition now has more awareness (and funds!) than they could have ever hoped for. And all unsolicitied, unbudgeted and unrestricted. It's the fundraiser's dream!

The fact that it was started and then grew organically by supporters really makes me smile. As much as my profession depends on us fundraisers needing to continually come up with different ways to engage our supporters, this campaign, like the #nomakeupselfie before it is proof that you can't ever plan for the best ideas.

Now....on the numerous other charities that are now promoting #Icebucketchallenge. This is such an interesting one for me. On the one hand you can't consider yourself a fundraiser if you are not maximising all opportunities that are presented to you, and you also can't choose what your supporters will do in support of you. However there is something about it actively promoting it that slightly unsettles me. It just seems a little unethical....but I can't completely explain why.

Because having said that, no fundraising idea is brand new. No charity can claim to be the only one to fundraise from marathons, cake sales, bike rides or quiz nights. As long as there are supporters for your cause they will fundraise in the way that suits them.

What makes me really happy are the people that are choosing to do #Icebucketchallenge for a charity of their choice. And what makes me even happier than THAT is the people who have donated to ALS Association or MND Association, and then also to their chosen charity. Recognising where the challenge came from and not "hijacking" but still supporting your charity.

However, and please listen carefully, I have so say....if you are going to donate - must you also dump a bucket of water over your head? Yes yes I know that's the "challenge" but you're not raising sponsorship to do this are you? Heck we'd all be broke if we were all being asked to sponsor each other! So if you're going to make a donation....why not just do it? Especially now the campaign is reaching it's peak. Do you really need a reason to donate to charity, if you want to truly change lives and make a difference - then do it. If you also want to do the ice challenge great, but don't feel pressured to do it. You will make just as much of a difference by simply sending your donation. Take the wonderful Sir Patrick Stewart for example :)

Somehow I've managed to avoid being nominated yet (she says too soon) but if I am, I will proudly donate to MND and then to another charity of my choice. And I'll do it in additional to my monthly contributions and without wasting litres of water.

Donate to ALS Association here

Donate to MND Association here or text ICED55 £5 (or other amount) to 70070.

PS. Since writing this, I have seen some comments on social media that apparently the reason why ice water is because for a brief moment you have the same sensation as someone living with MND. *If* that is correct and is the reason behind the challenge...that is amazing. Very rarely do you find truly fantastic fundraising campaigns that also relate back to the cause in a very real way.

Maybe I will dump the ice....maybe.

PPS. One final note to the people on social media who continually feel the need to insult, criticise or retract their support of a charity when they find out we spend money on fundraising. It's investment. No responsible charity will waste money on fundraising or marketing. For every £1 we are spending on fundraising we are likely making back at least £3. It is our duty to our beneficiaries to invest a small percentage of our income today to ensure we continue to have income tomorrow to help those who rely on us.

And on the subject of charities paying for Google advertising - most charities spend very little on this. Google offers a grant to most charities to allow them to target their advertising. And I promise you, it's still significantly more cost-effective and offers a higher return than taking out ads in the papers.

Just so ya know because all of this is one of my biggest bug-bears as a professional fundrasier! 

Monday, 14 July 2014

On positivity

Often we go looking for inspiration, sometimes inspiration finds us from unexpected places and occasionally, just occasionally -we are fortunate enough to inspire ourselves.

I’m not going to lie, work has been tough lately. Not in any way I couldn’t cope with but very busy and occasionally stressful. And then on Friday I got some very bad work related news. A huge funding bid that I had slaved over, that I had co-ordinated a shed ton of work for, that a decent chunk of our income hinged on…was unsuccessful. We were gobsmacked, of course nothing is ever certain but we all felt pretty confident about this bid. A lot of people had a put a lot of hard work in and in all honesty, we hadn’t really imagined not getting it.

It didn’t hit me too hard at first. But what did hit me – in a very positive way – was the response of my colleagues. I had nothing but supportiveness and kindness. And that was humbling.

I don’t think I deal with anything in a “standard” way – it’s purely dependent on the circumstances. But the way I handled this on Friday was by trying not to take it too personally. And to know that I couldn’t change it, couldn’t even learn from it until we receive feedback in a week and so all I could do is take the best I could and focus on the small sliver of silver linings.

So I had the weekend to process it and began to worry slightly and then reminded myself that I couldn't change it, would learn from it in time – and to keep thinking about how to move forward.
This morning a colleague that wasn’t in on Friday expressed how sorry she was that we didn’t get the funding. Another colleague – someone brand new who also joined me in the pub on Friday, very sweetly said “you handled it brilliantly” as he walked past and overheard our conversation.  And that made me smile again.

This evening I stumbled across this old blog post.  I remembered writing it but barely remembered coming out with such little pearls of wisdom to myself. And I was struck with a brief moment of overwhelming inspiration. I saw the word ‘positivity’ and the neurones in my brain instantly flashed up the comment from my colleague this morning. And it got me thinking…

I am inherently a positive person. Even when dealing with sometimes frankly crap situations, I still try and bring myself back to that positive place. Because it is who I am. And to be honest that makes me so proud. And connecting that blog post with this current work situation reminded me why I am the type of fundraiser I am. And more so than that reminded me of one of the often forgotten reasons as to why I am SO proud to be a fundraiser.

And finally seeing Sid’s comments on my old blog post made me smile and remind myself not to lose that girl who wrote that blog post. Thanks Sid!

"Seriously though, you inspire me in many ways, I look up to you for your guts and you strength and hope to someday achieve that aura of positive energy you have around you. You manage to pull of that positive vibe without hitting on that religious cult like ‘Bright and shiny’ thing."