alo365's blog

Sharing thoughts & experiences

There is more to setting up than meets the eye…

There is a great deal of work that goes into setting up a F2F campaign, much like any other fundraising activity. Some are easier than others, but in general it takes a lot of work to setup and manage a successful F2F campaign. It’s a team effort and there are a number of people that are required to come together to setup and manage a campaign. It’s a balancing act at times, as if one area of the campaign falls down (training, lack of sites, little management or no materials) the entire campaign suffers. The setups were always the busiest and most stressful, but also extremely exciting.

What makes everything worthwhile is when you step into the first charity training session and become immersed with their cause, the work they undertake and the challenges they are facing. Many charities have a number of projects that require support for regular givers, but finding the most urgent & simple for people to relate to is key!

It’s this passion, emotion, determination and energy that is so crucial in EVERY campaign. The ability to share this with strangers (many of whom have not heard of the charity until that very minute) and build rapport will make or break a F2F campaign. This is the starting point in the relationship with supporters, and one where charities will need to build upon.

I have many memories of campaign set-ups. Some amazingly exciting and simple campaigns, with a few stressful and complicated ones added in for good measure. However, each one is unique and I can quite safely say – each setup you completed, you walked away with more knowledge & insight than when you began.

If your charity runs F2F campaigns, I would highly recommend going along to a training session with the F2F fundraisers. Not only will you be buzzing with enthusiasm and passion about your cause, you will hear first hand the thoughts & feedback from the general public about your charity and the act of giving itself.


*If you are thinking about setting up a F2F campaign, here are a few of the requirements that are needed:

  • Service User Number (from your sponsoring bank)
  • DD forms or PDD form on secure electronic devise
  • PFRA Membership
  • Charity Clothing (including ID badge)
  • Sites (licenses form the council’s)
  • Fundraising Materials (welcome pack, FR folder, etc.)
  • Fundraiser Training (asks, cause, charity history, objection responses, etc.)
  • Fundraising Managers (monitor activity, results & complaint handling)



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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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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What does your job mean to you?

“What does your job mean to you? Does it have any meaning?”

This sounds like a rather strange blog post, but this was a question that was posed to me (& everyone else) in my first lecture on Managing People at Uni. This question is one that I was quite surprised to be asked quite frankly.  It’s one I wasn’t expecting.

Of course, to me, my job absolutely has meaning. So this is what I wrote:

My job has always been extremely important to me. Perhaps because it gave me a lifeline to be able to stay and live in the UK, or perhaps it was something that was mine and I had the choice to give as much or as little as I chose to. Bearing in mind that if I gave very little I would most definitely not be in the current role that I’m in!

Working with charities was, I have to admit, something I fell into – but 4 years down the line, I have to say that I absolutely love it & couldn’t see myself working in any other sector.  During this time not only have I learnt and developed new skills, I have also met some truly inspirational and passionate people.

Working with many different charities has been amazing and challenging at the same time. I have been working in the sector 4 years this May, and whilst this seems like most of my life, it is very much just the beginning!

I really do love my job; yes it may be stressful at times, but ask me about our plans for the next couple of years & you will see me light up! I am currently working on a new project of my own, and I cannot wait to pitch the idea to my MD. Yes, it is nerve-racking and it does add a bit of risk to our organisation, but in return we will be able to help charities who are struggling – and that, in my opinion, is priceless

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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.