Di Flatt's Blog

Day three of Di Flatt’s blog – Credit Crunch and Tea Bags
Di Flatt

Di Flatt

Good morning everyone! Oh and before we start today thought I would mention, this is my personal blog so always remember that these are my views and thoughts not those of my charity. I will mention my charity now and then of course and if you know us, donate to or support us then that is fantastic – and I thank you for that. If I do say anything as ‘Epilepsy Action’ then I will make that loud and clear. So here we go, back to me…

Well firstly, lets get the update on the bronchitis out of the way. 4.52 am was wide awake, coughing and choking and listening to the morning chorus of the birds in the trees outside my window. One little feathery chap right by my window was clearly sympathetic to my bronchitis and was joining in, chirruping away, each time I coughed. We had a real bark, bark, tweet, tweet chorus going on. His solo was definitely prettier than mine. Hmmnn wonder if I can actually cough in tune – where’s that application form for the next Britain’s Got Talent.

Yesterday I thought was getting better, but then speaking to my deputy last night to catch up on work, well let’s just say that my coughing throughout the conversation brought a whole new meaning to ‘barking down the phone’, sorry dear! I did suggest going back into the office today, but the response from my esteemed colleague was ‘if you come in I am staying at home’. So here I am, still at home, still ill, and keeping my germs to myself.

So fundraising….. shall we jump in at the deep end ?


I guess we are all working hard to maximise our charities’ resources right now. Certainly at this time of economic gloom and the words ‘credit crunch’ in the news on a daily basis, my team are constantly reviewing and updating fundraising activities.

We know that some areas of fundraising will be more pressured and are aware of the risk of income being lower. However we know that our helpline, advice and information services and website need to continue to support people living with epilepsy and their families.

I am personally keeping up with the financial news daily as we cannot afford to be complacent. Budgets are tight and targets stretching – but we need to remain brave and stay alert. This is a time where relationship fundraising is going to be key to our daily plans. My advice would be – don’t keep churning out the same old same old appeals and letters. I think it is time to think outside your charity. Think relationships, think customer services.

In fact think about the best customer service experience you have had – and then look at whether your charity is providing the same level of service to your ‘customers’.

My personal number one for customer service is first direct (and yes I know it’s a bank and right now some of us are not very happy with the banking world, however credit where credit is due – if you can pardon the pun!).

Do you know that if you go onto their ‘our services’ page and don’t click on anything after a short period a pop up window appears saying ‘We’re here to help you’ and inviting you to click and be immediately through to ‘chat live’ and have your questions answered by a real person. Ok so I may be a bit of a geek but I think that is pretty cool.

Anyway you see the page for yourself : http://www.firstdirect.com/ourservices/

I particularly like the line:

‘Your call will always be answered by a person in the UK – we’re here day and night’.

You see, they state clearly that they will always be there for us, when we need them, yes when WE need them, not when they want to be open. They deliver on their promises regarding customer service.

first direct of course won the Customer Focus Award at the National Business Awards because of the way it keeps its customers at the heart of its business and tailors the way it works to meet their needs. Their chief executive said (after they won the award) they ‘will continue to put the customer first, bringing them innovative products, good value, and technology that works’.

So are you getting my gist here….?

This is what we need to be doing too! Delivering excellent customer service and developing our relationship fundraising.

Treat every donor like a major donor. We all say every £1 counts – and it does – and this means that every donor counts too. From the £1 donor to the £1million donor – every single person giving to your charity is making a personal choice to do so. Our part in this relationship is to make sure we are personal back. Make it personal, if we go the extra mile so will our supporters. Remember to give is to receive!

So give to your donors and supporters and they will give back to you, ensuring we can all continue the work needed by our clients and beneficiaries.

I guess reciprocity is the key word here. Oh and this reminds me of a chum of mine and tea bags! Yes that’s right – tea bags.

Now I am a coffee drinker, but I do generally keep a supply of teabags in the back of the cupboard. But I have a friend who drinks a particular brand of tea. Now when he first popped in for a cuppa I automatically offered him coffee, he said ‘no thanks I drink tea’. So I dug out my box of tea bags and yes he turned his nose up, and ended up having a glass of water.

Now (and here’s the fundraiser bit) each time he came round I could have kept on pushing ‘my brand’ at him – but he wouldn’t have drank it, and would probably have eventually stopped ‘popping in for a cuppa’. BUT I like this friend so I bought some of his favourite tea. By providing ‘his brand’ he keeps on calling in for a cuppa – and guess what, last time I popped in to see him he had bought coffee to give to me. So you see reciprocity is the key. Giving and then receiving – it works every time.

So sometimes, as fundraisers we may need to think and go a little ‘off brand’ to ensure we are giving our donors and supporters what they want. Scary isn’t it.

But every time you are scared just think: TEA BAGS !!!

Go on say it out loud ‘tea bags, tea bags, tea bags’. Well it works for me.

Give your donors and supporters what they want and they will give back to you and will keep on coming back. Your brand is the dialogue you have with your supporters after all.

Remember ‘changing the world’ starts with you. For my charity, myself I stand alone, but with supporters behind me I become a queue, then a crowd, then a community – a community working together to give support and effect change for people living with epilepsy.

This reminds me of our website http://www.epilepsy.org.uk . Based in Leeds, a UK charity, ranked first most visited epilepsy site in Europe, and third in the World. Now that is some community.

Oh and by the way, am doing slightly better on the bathroom geek front. Have actually put the pretty bath mat on the floor today (do see previous post if you can’t keep up). Did a little dance around it to go brush my teeth earlier, no didn’t stand on it, I stepped around it. But come on, at least it is now on the floor. Of course if get visitors will hang it over the bath again. Did look into the wall hanging option, but figure the no nails glue might damage the tiles.

So this is me signing off for now, back soon to talk about major donors, pyramids, and turning it all on its head.


Every £1 donated to charity goes towards changing someone’s life or positively changing our environment. My charity www.epilepsy.org.uk, and every charity – we need you.

Di x


3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Hey Hun, sorry to hear you’re ill, love the blog and am suddenly feeling better about personally hand signing over 1,000 letters to our supporters last week! On the tea bag side my friend doesn’t like a large mug of tea and was chuffed when I bought her a proper tea cup to keep at mine! Sarah x

Comment by Sarah Tuckwell

Exactly Sarah – your friend will now definitely return and indeed be looking forward to doing so. And the supporters will love the personalised hand signing.

Comment by diflatt

Yep – in these financial times the most vulnerable charities are those that don’t have a good relationship with their donors, or don’t get onto that right away. Tick tock.

Comment by Kathryn Hill

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