alo365's blog

Sharing thoughts & experiences

The Power of Words

Gosh, it’s been over a year since my last blog post and it’s certainly been a very busy time.. I’ve taken a few minutes this evening to share a clip we play during our fundraiser training.

The clip contains personal, highly emotive and live changing stories from past callers who are now volunteers. They found the strength to share their stories with you, and their stories will now help us to raise awareness for those who may not know where to turn.

This clip has touched my heart and the heart of thousands of others. If you feel the same, please show your support by sharing this clip &/or making a small donation. You can help us be there for someone who’s struggling to cope this evening.

It’s quick and easy to donate, text SUPPORT to 70123 to donate £3.

Thank you.

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F2F Fundraising – The “marmite” recruitment medium of the sector!

I think that as a sector, we need to be more open when talking about Street Fundraising. More so, to raise awareness of the fundraising medium and why a number of charities see this as a vital recruitment channel. I know, from experience, that many people working in charities still turn their noses up at Street Fundraising (many of whom are sitting in the same room as fellow fundraisers who manage these campaigns), which saddens me. I was in a lecture a few months ago discussing fundraising mediums. When it came to F2F, 98% of the room did not approve and compared F2F fundraisers’ to beggars on the street, bringing down the charity brand (however, slipped in that it did in fact raise a lot of money for charities). I was so shocked in that moment (I knew the general public had this thought, but from fellow fundraisers, all of whom work in the sector, I was blown over! Luckily the person sitting next to me was just as shocked as I was). I truly believe that their needs to be a shift in the perception of this fundraising medium and perhaps by sharing more insights, others can begin to see the bigger picture and how important street fundraising is to charities – not just in raising funds but also in building brand awareness.

I will be blogging about this medium over the next few weeks in the hope to raise some awareness & share some of my experiences over the last 5 years working in F2F fundraising. To share how it can be used and the work that goes into running these campaigns. I know that F2F fundraising is not for everybody or for every charity, but for those working in this medium, there needs to be more understanding and openness to running this activity.

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The “Future” Chapter

As I look back over the last four and a half years at Future, I must say that I have been through it all.  As Future heads into another new chapter after a year of transformation, I feel it’s time to say my farewells.

I started in May 07, three weeks after I had decided to get on that plane from South Africa heading to the UK.  Little did I know what I was getting into at the time, no idea of just how much impact this decision would have on my life.  My initial plan was to only work in the UK for a year, travel for 6 months and then head back home to study.  That all changed 8 months in, as I developed this passion for fundraising.

Over the years, I have been privileged to have worked with some extraordinary and inspirational people, been a part of new ventures and witnessed a few fundraising “firsts”. Most of all, it has formed my foundation in fundraising and shown me how much I’m truly capable off.  I say this because over this last year I have completed the first year of my Masters at LSBU, whilst working full time at Future; setting up a completely new department and calling team, rebranding and helping the agency expand their services.  I have never worked so hard in my life & juggled as many balls as I have done so this past year.  It’s been tough and had it’s up’s and down’s along the way, but I wouldn’t change a thing!

I will never forget my roots and entrance into the world of fundraising.  I truly believe in the work that Rupert, John and their teams are doing and I wish everyone at Future & Fundraising Vision the best of luck as they continue on their path.

Tomorrow is my first day at Rapidata and I’m thrilled to be heading off to my next challenge.  I’m really excited to be working in a new fundraising medium and cannot wait to learn more.

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Life In A Day!

As human-beings we sometimes take out life for granted, constantly focusing on the next thing we want to achieve. Believing that once we get there, we will be more happier and for-filled. Not appreciating the here and now…

Watching the below clip/trailer I think is really powerful. It reminds you just how amazing life truly is and how each day is a new experience, that we are creating.

Life is too short not to take chances, not to live your passion and fight for what you believe in. I still believe that life is about making a difference; whether that be in your family, community or the world. I believe that each person can make a difference, it’s a choice and belief that you are powerful enough to do so.



IoF National Convention 2011

This was my fourth year attending the convention, and I think it was the best year yet! It was amazing and I loved every minute! The convention kicked off on Sunday afternoon; setting up the stand and then off for drinks at the Windsor with a handful of fellow fundraisers.

Catching up with a few of the usual faces, I finally got to meet a number of twitterers in person, like @LucyInnovation@PreselySylwia, @Keanearrow, @Seidld, @RoxyMartinique, @NickinOxford and @AJLeon. Not to mention a number of folks who are not on Twitter, well not as yet anyway. It was great chatting to so many passionate, enthusiastic and inspirational fundraisers.

I found the last three days fantastic. Attended 6 sessions this year, around direct marketing and digital fundraising.  AJ’s session was extremely inspirational, being able to achieve such amazing results; with the use of digital fundraising, a few engaged supporters & an extremely influential blogger. As well as Lucy, speaking about innovation and her thoughts on how to think out side the boxes and pushing boundaries – you never quite know what you can create!

The blogging area was fantastic, even though I must admit, I did not spend a very long time there. Brilliant place to chill out and catch up with fellow delegates. Colorful bean bags, laptops and an internet connection – what more could you want when you have a few free moments. This year there was a much greater social media presence which was great, and brought the convention to life. Special thanks to Voice, Sylwia, Nick, Martyn and Steve who were tweeting, blogging and recording their hearts out.

There were a few subjects that seem to be in many conversations and sessions over the last few days:

  • Embrace failure and learn from it.
  • Innovation and pushing boundaries.
  • Provide supporters with choices.

Social media and technology have brought us many things, but it also means that change happens so quickly. The need to stay one step ahead and constantly be aware, that what worked a few months ago may not work now. Fundraising is getting tougher and the need for innovation is vital to every organisations long-term sustainability. I believe that there will be great things ahead; as more people focus on sharing and communications – we need to grab supporters attention, engage and involve them in the decision making process.

I can’t wait for next year, as each IoF National Convention seems to offer something new! Who know’s, we may just be in another venue that has a better wireless connection or presenting a new medium of fundraising.


Five Minutes to Reflect

Between all my prep work, meetings & lectures; I’m taking a few minutes to reflect and look back over the last few months…

Today marks the start of my fourth year working at Future Fundraising, as well as working in the sector. This is a milestone for me, and one that I chose to celebrate with the office crew yesterday evening. Looking around the table and thinking back to the beginning of this year, we have come through a lot and have a number of achievements we should be celebrating.

This has been one of the busiest years of my life so far; with one meeting, project, conference, lecture after another – it’s so easy to not recognise the achievements & take some time to enjoy them. After chatting with @annarwalsh and @TeriDoubtfire this week, I’m much more aware of the need to celebrate these moments in time. It is so easy to move onto the next task/challenge once one is completed, without acknowledging the amount of work that had gone into making it happen and what the outcome of this was. We are working with charities, our project outcomes are rather AMAZING and help to change lives across the world – this is something to be proud of & shout from the roof tops.

So, I would like to share a bit of our internal “roof top shouting” with you now! In the last several months of 2011 we have achieved the following:

Doubling our client list, restructuring & expanding our call centre, a number of new campaigns and more than doubling our donor volume – the future seems bright, with a few more new & unique projects still being worked on behind the scenes. There is no risk of us becoming complacent this year, we have several aspirations we plan on achieving. Our team is more enthusiastic than ever before, dynamic and determined to see 2011 being the year of great success!

All I can say is that 2011 is our year, and with the number of amazing charities we are working with, I can’t wait to celebrate future achievements with them to!

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The act of working with others on a joint project. The process where two or more people or organisations work together to realise shared goals. A deep, collective, determination to reach an identical objective by sharing knowledge, learning and building consensus.

Attending my very first creative workshop with one of our clients this week was fabulous! Nothing can beat working together with a client to maximise their ROI, helping to build stronger supporter relationships and ultimately making their cause that bit more powerful. Having team members from each department of the charity all come together in order to create this very important supporter journey – focusing specifically on Face-to-Face-fundraising (as over the next year, majority of their supporters will be coming on board using this medium but working it in to their overall supporter strategy) was insightful and exciting for all of us.

Towards the end of the workshop, we watched the ‘thank you’ video the DM team had made for our fundraisers (I have spoken about this a few times on twitter). This video is brilliant, and sums up who the charity is and what they do! It’s not something fancy and professionally put together; but it’s real, compelling and inspirational. Everyone in the room was clapping at the end and loved the video – just like our teams did. You might say that I’m a sentimental person, but when I first saw this video in December I was teary-eyed – it wasn’t sad or difficult to watch, but it made me realise just how important the work that we are all doing is, and the difference we are making to people who are affected by a learning disability. 

What am I getting at – simply this, working together with your agency, departments, fellow fundraisers, supporters and volunteers will always be that much more powerful, than working on your own. Collaboration, I believe, is one of the most powerful means in the fundraising world! Most of us do this often, in meetings, events, conferences and conventions – coming together, sharing thoughts, knowledge and experiences. This makes our sector that bit more influential than others – with most of us embracing this and becoming more effective in raising funds and awareness.

I go back to that old saying by Helen Keller – “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

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A few lovely people that I have met, thanks to Twitter!


Why am I on Twitter?

I get asked this question so often…

I am on Twitter for a number of reasons. Instead of listing them out, which would be a tad boring & factual, I thought that I would share a bit about a few people that I have met in 2010 as a direct result of being on Twitter.

The first person that I ever met through Twitter was Rachel Beer @rachelbeer. It was lovely to finally meet the person behind the avatar. Our meeting was very brief, so I do hope the next time we meet we get to have a proper chat. She is just as lovely in person as she is on Twitter. Always willing to share her thoughts & feedback, and also helped me out with my cousins Xmas gifts this year! Bringing the NFP Tweetup to life, she certainly knows her stuff and is a true social media guru.

Paul De Gregorio @Pauldegregorio was the next person that I met up with several months ago, at his offices in Old Street. I was blown away by our conversation and his love of the sector. He is filled with so many ideas that I cannot wait to chat further about. A man who is extremely focused, with vast experience in telephone fundraising. On a new venture, that I wish him all the very best on. I am thrilled to be working with him on a project in the New Year!

Craig Linton @Frdetective was another person that I am extremely happy to have met. I had been following him on twitter for a few months, we had chatted (online) about fundraising, he had kindly given me some info & ideas on legacies. A few weeks later, he said to me that he had gotten the job as the New Head of Fundraising at the GLFB (a charity client that I had been working with for several years!) It shows you what a small world it really is… Within the next couple weeks, we had arranged a meeting (to chat about the current campaign), went out for a drink after and following this – I had found my first volunteering opportunity! I worked at the GLFB one day a week for three months, and I loved every minute! It made my decision to start my Msc in Charity Fundraising & Marketing something that I worked even harder towards. I share Craig’s vision on fundraising and what he wants to achieve at the GLFB. This man is truly inspirational and is out to make a difference in every charity that he works for. He is so enthusiastic & passionate about what he does – it was a privilege to work with him!

Anna Walsh @annarwalsh Now here is one extremely insightful, hard working & shrewd lady! 100% on the ball and passionate about fundraising & communication… I actually first met Anna a few years ago at her leaving party at Sense, through one of the guys that I used to work with. However, only pleasantries, and I have a feeling that I might have been gate crashing, but hey! (Hope that you didn’t mind Anna). Anyway, we connected through Twitter a couple of years later and she has been an absolute gem! I am so thrilled to have met up with her again. She is another person who I am very happy to have worked with, and hope to again in the future.

Nausheen Qureshi @POPNQ is a force to be reckoned with! I am not sure how she does it really (a question that I have actually asked her)… She has founded a charity, a skin care line & who knows what else will be next. Constantly working & on the go with new events, initiatives & ideas to raise money for Play Our Part – a charity who helps to support people who are affected by HIV/AIDS living in Africa. And also happens to have a fabulous accent to match her personality.

John Lepp @Johnlepp I believe that most people know and have chatted to this man. He is one that will probably take me awhile to meet up with in person, but one that I am more than happy to Skype & chat on twitter with! He is another person who I find extremely insightful and creative, with a vast knowledge of fundraising & helping charities to communicate more effectively with their supporters. An agent of good which I hope to work with in the not too distant future.

Recently I have started chatting to a very lovely lady who is extremely inspirational! Not sure if you know Hazel @CHD_UK. She is currently teaching in Spain & studying Child Psychology. Now here is a lady that I hope to meet up with when she comes back to the UK in September. A selfless, kind & hardworking individual who is helping to raise awareness of Congenital Heart Defects, as well as living with one herself.

Okay, so there you have it – here are just some of the lovely people that I have met thanks to being on Twitter. As I’m sure that you can tell, I am very much pro Twitter and always will be.

I look forward to connecting & meeting up with many more twitteries in 2011.

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What is Marketing & Who are our Customers?

What is marketing? I find myself asking this question again as I sit and wait in Bristol Temple Meads station for the next train back to London. This question has been on my mind since the very first lecture I sat in. Ask me why? It’s because I had literally just started my diploma and was presented with a due date for my first assignment (gulp).

Now perhaps I am being over eager blogging about this, but the word “marketing” seems to cause some controversy, as each person will of course have their own opinion on what marketing actually is and where it lies in their organisation.

So far, we have spoken about how marketing is all about our “customers” and meeting their needs, wants, demands & desires – all of which revolves around being marketing orientated.  Everyone that we exchange with (whether it be for a product or a service) are still classified as a customer. This means that everyone from our donors to our suppliers can be classified as a customer, and each of them need to be a part of our marketing plan. Now, I know that some might disagree with this. I did at first, because aren’t we paying our suppliers for the service/product we receive? But what if I said to you that your volunteers and staff are also your customers, how many of you would stop reading this?

To those who agree with me or those who simply want to know what I am on about – they ALL are your customers. Everyone that we interact with day to day are our customers. Why? Because everyone has an opinion, a choice and freedom to share with anyone they wish. They (volunteers) can choose to continue working within your organisation or not, they can recommend you to another beneficiary/charity/individual/media/etc or complain about you &/or your services. This is why it’s recommended that we have a clear marketing plan – for us to be able to identify who our customers are, how we can meet their needs & wants with the resources that we have, and aim to exceed them.

Now, not everyone reading this will have the same customers. Some may have volunteers and others may not or do not require any. Other bigger organisations need to look at the media as being a big customer because they can influence many people around the world with one article/news broadcast. It all depends on which organisation you work in and who your customers are.

Now, I know that I work for an agency and our customers are clear to me – they are every single charity out there, as each one of them could become one of our clients. Our customers (in no particular order) – UK based charities, Processing Bureaus, Suppliers, Media, Competitors, Staff & Members of the public.

I would really like to put this to the guru’s out there (well those who I think have done some really great work in the sector from the marketing angle) and hear what your thoughts are on marketing & what it means to you/your organisation? These folks include @rachelbeer @markyphillips @johnlepp @annarwalsh @frdetective @causeperfect.

Thanks to everyone who has read this. Please feel free to add your thoughts & opinions, all is welcome and it’s great to get feedback so that I can perhaps use this in my next assignment.