Di Flatt's Blog


Credit Crunch – I count, you count, they count. But how much does any of it count for you?

 

Di FlattHello everyone!   I am back after a little break of just being too too busy.  Oh and before we start today I better again mention, This is my personal blog so always remember that these are my views and thoughts and not those of my charity. If I do say anything as ‘Epilepsy Action’ then I will make that loud and clear.  So here we go, back to me…

 

Well how was your Easter?  Mine was mixture of busy busy fun along with some much needed relaxation.  We went to the Billionaire Boys Club and Glamour & Excess Easter Bunny party at Oracle in Leeds.  This was great fun.  But let me just tell you there are some nights out where you really SHOULD NOT wear your four inch heels.  Starting parties at 9pm and dancing through till 3am does not make your feeties love you in the morning.  I know because mine were positively frowning at me for two days afterwards.  As you can all probably guess the relaxation came AFTER the party.

 

Thus for the next party (which is rapidly approaching) I shall be wearing pretty girlie pumps of no higher than two inches – I promise.  No really feeties I promise you!  I will never do that to you again.

 

Hmmnnnnnn.  Well some of you may be wondering how my fundraising is going!

 

Those of you who know me well will know of my inherent optimism and constant smiling…. well if there is one thing that can test my usual exuberance it is the

 

CREDIT CRUNCH

 

I know that all charities are working hard to maximise their resources – but there are certainly days right now when I groan a little.

 

Some people are cancelling their usual direct debit donations – and lets be fair who can blame them!

 

However I cannot help but wonder how many realise just how much the charity sector relies on their support.  Certainly for my charity over 90 percent of our income is from voluntary donation, or individuals’ participation in our many events.

 

So yes some days I groan a little.

 

However I groan not only for the charity but for the person who feels they have to stop their donation.  It really cannot be an easy moment.

 

Every single pound we choose to give to a charity is important.  Every generous gift we make is going towards helping someone, improving life chances, saving a life, improving the environment, and changing the world forever.

 

So – it certainly cannot be easy to stop your charity donations.  For all of us the credit crunch is making things hard.

 

But life was not meant to be just easy!  So perhaps we will all learn a lot at this time.  Or at the very least remember things we have maybe forgotten.

 

I for one have begun to remember just how much I like to be at home in my own kitchen and cook!

 

A couple of weeks ago I stayed with a friend who clearly also really enjoyed cooking for us both.

 

I have had groups of friends come round for the evening and we have eaten and drank together, watched DVDs, listened to music, played on the computer reading each other’s facebooks, updating our websites, and generally having just as much fun in my apartment as we would ordinarily have been having in the local pub or wine bar.

 

So perhaps, although hard, this is a time when we all remember how important it is to pull together, care about each other, and plough our more limited funds into the things that really matter to us.  The people and things we care about.

 

Please, everyone, do remember that the charities you support and care about continue to matter too – and they continue to matter to you.  If you can, don’t stop giving altogether.  Reduce it perhaps, or give in other ways: through participation in fun events for example, or even by writing the charity of your choice into your will.  Just don’t leave them behind forever – none of us know when we ourselves may need the support of a charity.

 

Actually writing this made me think of the charities that have supported my family.

 

Macmillan Cancer Support helped us through my dad’s cancer, staying with him and us until his final day.  So thank you so much Macmillan, we all needed you.

 

British Heart Foundation supported us when we lost our mum to heart attack.

 

I myself have worked in numerous charities.  I have worked with socially and economically deprived children – seeing things that opened my eyes to worlds and lives I could not otherwise have ever believed were taking place here in the UK.

 

I have work with terminally ill children and children living with life limiting conditions – they and their families need huge amounts of care and support, and I shall remember every one of them that I met that are no longer with us today.

 

Today of course I work for Epilepsy Action, a charity providing services and a voice for all people living with epilepsy in the UK, and their families.  I myself had epilepsy as a child and so understand the difficulties and issues that confront you when living with this condition, and thus why our services are so vital.

 

Every charity you will know of needs financial support to enable them to provide the help and services they are there to provide.

 

Every pound you donate supports making our world a better place, a better space for us all to share.

 

I have reduced my own donations to the charities I support, and when I can I will increase them again.

 

Yes, my charitable giving is on the edge of my budget – but it is a necessary expense and one that will remain on my budget because who knows what is around the corner.  For me, for my loved ones, or for any of us.

 

DON’T EVER FORGET THAT FROM ONE BLADE OF GRASS WE CAN GROW A LAWN

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.

KEEP ON GIVING.  YOUR GIVING COUNTS!

Di x

 

 

 

 

 

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Staff appraisals, life appraisal and time to make some changes…

Di Flatt

Di Flatt

This is my personal blog so always remember that these are my views and thoughts and not those of 

my charity. If I do say anything as ‘Epilepsy Action’ then I will make that loud and clear.

 

 

 

Well I had a very busy Monday, no time to chat.  Busy doing staff appraisals and meetings in the day, and a life appraisal in the evening!  I shall perhaps tell you more when I have time, but for now I will just share with you a quote I read at the weekend.

 

“When things go wrong as they sometimes will,

when the road you’re trudging seems all up hill,

when the funds are low and the debts are high,

and you want to smile, but you have to sigh,

when care is pressing you down a bit,

rest if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,

as every one of us sometimes learns,

and many a failure turns about,

when he might have won had he stuck it out.

Don’t give up though the pace seems slow,

you may succeed with another blow,

success is failure turned inside out.

The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,

and you never can tell how close you are,

it may be near when it seems so far,

so stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit,

it’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.”  Author unknown.

 

Somehow this seems to fit well right now, not just for me and my own life appraisal – but for all of us doing charity fundraising right now, and indeed many people in general struggling through this recession and credit crunch.  Every few days I hear of another friend who has been made redundant, brilliant and talented people who now face an uncertain future.

 

Well we mustn’t dwell, remember what I said on Sunday – in fact I shall say it again.

 

Let us not focus on the dark but switch on our lights.  Play big, serve the world, and give others permission to do the same.  Keep on giving and we will keep on receiving.

 

Well I better go another busy day ahead.  Take care and I will speak again soon.

DON’T EVER FORGET THAT FROM ONE BLADE OF GRASS WE CAN GROW A LAWN

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.

KEEP ON GIVING.

Di x



As the Recession and the Credit Crunch continue to dominate I’m taking inspiration from Nelson Mandela (or not?)…
Di Flatt

Di Flatt

This is my personal blog so always remember that these are my views and thoughts and not those of my charity. If I do say anything as ‘Epilepsy Action’ then I will make that loud and clear.

Good Sunday morning to you. I am already on my second coffee, having watched Andrew Marr – my favourite start for the day on Sundays. Now avidly watching The Big Questions with Nicky Campbell, and they are currently debating the rights and wrongs of early sex and whether parents should be telling children that sex can be wrong. I am surprised at quite how wide ranging the views from the audience are.

In my view children need and seek out boundaries and thus we do need to be able to tell young people what is considered right and wrong by society, and within the law. Young people have their own minds and opinions and I think our role is to ensure that we as adults demonstrate moral guidelines through our own behaviours. Just like anything in life as leaders we need to be seen to be ‘walking the walk’ not just talking the talk. So I don’t think it is about our drumming in the rights and wrongs per se, but in ensuring our own behaviour demonstrates behaving in a sensible, moral and safe manner. Surely this is the best way forward.

Anyway this totally digresses from what I was going to say – my fault for watching television at the same time as writing this.

I, as probably most of you, find myself thinking and worrying about the doom and gloom of recession and the credit crunch. Just earlier I was reading online a definition of ‘credit crunch’:

“All of our major banking and financial institutions are currently experiencing a shortage of cash, quite simply they do not have the funds to lend to their customers and therefore we do not have the ability to borrow any cash, this in turn means that we as a nation have far less cash to spend which means that business across the UK are selling far less than they were 12 months ago.”

So, businesses are selling less, and the nation has less cash to spend. Worrying times for all of us in the world of charity and fundraising to say the least.

However, one thing that will not change is human behaviours. Our world is full of egoists and altruists and everything in between. Those people who are altruistic will continue to be so and the egoists may continue to be selfish – or not, the jury is out on this. Recession can mean people will pull together more at a community level – so maybe from the credit crunch will grow a whole new crop of altruists? Time will tell.

This made me think more about altruism and so being my usual geeky self I was just researching altruism on line, and came across an ‘egoism versus altruism’ test.

It appears from my test that I am 91% empathetic, and this is what they had to say:

“Your results indicate that empathy is one of your strong suits. You are able to identify with other people and their feelings, as well as see things from their perspective. Many researchers believe that empathy is a defining characteristic of true altruists. It’s the ability to empathize with others that often motivates people to help someone. Being able to really understand where others’ are coming from and why they would truly benefit from your consideration most likely makes any kind gesture you commit all the more meaningful. In addition, taking that moment to put yourself in other people’s shoes and trying to see the world through their eyes has probably helped you learn a lot about not just them, but yourself too.”

I think the best thing about helping others isn’t the fuzzy feeling of warmth it provokes in me, but the fact that when I have helped someone they may go on to want to help someone else, and so on. Empathy and helpfulness has an infectious nature, and so has the potential to grow and grow.

Offering support and being there when needed doesn’t just benefit the people around us, but will benefit ourselves as well. As I said the other day to give is to receive, so I think we, as fundraisers, really need to keep concentrating hard on giving of ourselves.

This reminds me of the famous speech often attributed to Nelson Mandela.   The original words were in fact written by Marianne Williamson, and it is a subject of regular debate as to whether Mr Mandela ever did actually use the words in a speech or not.  However, it is still worth a read – and it certainly inspires me.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. “

Whether religious or not, I think this speech holds strength for all of us.

So fundraisers, in this time of economic doom and gloom, let us not focus on the dark but switch on our lights. Play big, serve the world, and give others permission to do the same. Keep on giving and we will keep on receiving.

Well I better go and catch up on house chores, emails, facebook, twitter and phone calls. Have a great day and I will be back soon.

DON’T EVER FORGET THAT FROM ONE BLADE OF GRASS WE CAN GROW A LAWN

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.

KEEP ON GIVING.

Di x



Remember to pack the right funding wardrobe this week…

Di Flatt

Di Flatt

This is my personal blog so always remember that these are my views and thoughts and not those of my charity. If I do say anything as ‘Epilepsy Action’ then I will make that loud and clear.

Well it is Saturday night and I am only recently home following a day of trawling around the shops looking for that perfect LBD (boys that reads ‘little black dress’ by the way).

You know the usual trip ladies – of course I knew which shop and designer I liked, so went there first and saw and tried on a fabulous dress BUT then went around all the other shops to make sure, before returning to buy it.

Well the dress is now hanging nicely in the wardrobe making friends with the four inch heels I bought in London a couple of weeks ago. Need the dress for fabulous Easter Bunny party I am going to in April. Not sure will be able to dance in the four inches but they will certainly look good.

Now need to get a brrriiillliiaaannnt hair cut to go with the outfit. So if anyone has suggestion for excellent Leeds based hairdresser I shall be grateful – otherwise I might have to catch train back to London just for a hair cut.

I hate having to find a new hairdresser – does anyone else suffer this affliction?

I get all twitchy that a new person will cut it wrong, take it too short, wrong colour, lopsided and so on; and of course there is the question of what to wear when you go. You see I have a theory. If you go just in your jeans and trainers you will get a mediocre hair ‘do’. So I always try to get nicely ‘dressed up’ to show them that I mean business, make up, heels, EXCELLENT handbag, nice nails, and expensive looking smart outfit.

You might think I am silly, I think I am silly, but somehow I just can’t stop myself.

It was just the same when I was younger except you could then swap ‘expensive looking smart outfit’ for something quirky and wild – as back then I was into the ‘new romantic’ scene – to ensure I would end up with a quirky and wild hair do.

This actually relates well to fundraising too I think – because when dealing with potential funders we really do need to ‘dress’ ourselves, our organisations, and our work to ensure they come across in a way that means we have the highest possible chance of receiving the funding we need from our target funding audience.

So this will mean different ‘outfits’ for trusts and foundations, for corporate organisations, and for individuals and so on – as each will expect to see a different form of ourselves as most appropriate to them.

So as you enjoy your Saturday evening perhaps allow yourself to ponder on which outfit you are going to wear this week, and how many outfits you are going to need dependent on the funders you are likely to approach.

 Think of your own wardrobes and how you will wear different things for different events and even for different people; and ladies consider even the different heel heights you may walk in this week dependent on the person you may be walking with.

Well I have had a busy day, and am now relaxing watching television with a nice glass of red, so good night and we can speak again soon.

DON’T EVER FORGET THAT FROM ONE BLADE OF GRASS WE CAN GROW A LAWN

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. KEEP ON GIVING. Di x



If you’re going to advertise then tell it like it is, otherwise you will just lose out in the end…
Di Flatt

Di Flatt

This is my personal blog so always remember that these are my views and thoughts and not those of my charity. If I do say anything as ‘Epilepsy Action’ then I will make that loud and clear.

 

Well good evening, I just got home after a long day on the road.  Self and two other members of the Yorkshire IoF Committee have been busy trying out venues for the inaugural two day residential conference we are planning for Yorkshire and the North in February 2010.

 

Currently feel exhausted and also rather irritated.  One of the hotels, in fact the one we travelled furthest to check out was listed as having many more rooms than it in fact had.  So although it was indeed a very nice hotel, with the most fabulous views out over the sea and Robin Hood’s Bay, had great rooms and facilities – IT JUST WAS NOT SUITABLE – because it does not in fact have enough bedrooms for the number of delegates!

 

So now I feel irritated with this hotel, I feel cheated and like they wasted my time.  The second strange thing was they also told us they have a policy whereby they do not like the double and twin rooms to be taken for single use (and they only have three actually single rooms). 

 

Now how many conferences do you attend where the delegates all arrive in couples?  So my questions are this – why say you are a conference hotel and then make it nigh on impossible for your conference audience to hold a conference?  Why say you have over a hundred rooms and in fact have only 52?  Hmmnnn.  I really do not think this would have reached the standards of the FRSB – so it is lucky they are in fact a hotel and not a charity!!

 

So am now home, hungry and tired but happy that I am now watching Sleepless in Seattle on tv, a favourite of mine.  Hmmmnnn just imagine if the two main characters when writing to each other had portrayed themselves as someone else, something different to who they really are (like the hotel did) – well I guess this love story would have had a very different ending.  An ending comprising of two very disappointed people – rather than a coming together of two happy and contented souls ready to begin a lifelong journey together.

 

This just makes me contemplate how we work with our members and supporters – are we really as open, honest and transparent as we could be?  I think we are, but considering how irritated I felt at the hotel today I am going to think again, and discuss with my team, and indeed with some of our members and supporters themselves.  If we end up irritating or annoying our supporters then they could end up feeling like I do right now – let down, cheated and thinking I certainly won’t be booking to stay at that hotel any time soon.

 

We really must keep it honest, keep it open, and keep it transparent – charity fundraising really does need to be ‘what you see is what you get’ in every fashion.

 

Now I am going to watch the end of this lovely film, probably shed a tear or two at the end then slip off to bed for an early’ish night.

 

Tomorrow I might tell you a little bit more about our trip today and the shenanigans of the wayward satnav.  We certainly did take the scenic route !

 

DON’T EVER FORGET THAT FROM ONE BLADE OF GRASS WE CAN GROW A LAWN

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.

KEEP ON GIVING.

Di x



It’s your neck on the line…..

Di Flatt

Di Flatt

This is my personal blog so always remember that these are my views and thoughts and not those of my charity. If I do say anything as ‘Epilepsy Action’ then I will make that loud and clear.

   

 

 

My horoscope today in Metro reads:  ‘Details matter today, especially if you’re in charge of planning a big event.  Don’t assume that someone else has taken care of things.  Even if you delegated these tasks, double check them.  It’s your neck on the line.’

 

This made me smile, as it fits so well with what I promised yesterday that I would tell you about today! The major faux pas made at one of my previous charities.  Oh my goodness what an unfortunate happening it was too.

 

I had just written our latest appeal and supporter newsletter.  Included within the newsletter was a piece about our previous president, a well known Bishop, who had just died.  The piece paid tribute to his work, his previous work with and support of the charity, and details of his love of sport and so on.

 

As always there was the letter, the newsletter and a BRE to go into the outer envelope.  Everything was carefully proofed and went through our quality assurance system before going to the mailing house – which shall remain nameless!

 

It was in fact about six years previous that this Bishop had stepped down from being our president.  And two years previous I had taken the charity through a full rebrand, including our name.  There is a reason for me telling you these two things….

 

When we went through the rebrand we gave instructions to all our offices, mailing houses, storage places and so on – directing them to destroy all print materials with the old details on them, and we supplied everyone with all the nice new rebranded print.

 

So – and this is why it made me smile reading the horoscope this morning – one went ahead assuming that all of these people and organisations had followed my direction and destroyed everything.   And yes people you no doubt have done this too.

 

So what happened I hear you ask?

 

Well in a nutshell – the letters were printed perfectly, the newsletter was printed perfectly and (in my opinion, but then I am biased) was a really good issue, the giving mechanism was all nicely coded and pretty.

 

BUT, oh I blushing at the memory of it, the business reply envelopes were just held at the mailing house.  They didn’t need proofing as they were the same ones that were sent every time…

 

OR WERE THEY

 

Well as I said above, we had requested that all previous print was destroyed – BUT we then assumed they had done this.  WE HAD NOT GONE TO THE MAILING HOUSE AND MADE SURE THERE WAS NO OLD PRINT KEPT, EVEN BY MISTAKE.

 

The mailing house – just prior to my mailing – had decided to have a big tidy up and had moved things around the warehouse.

 

Somehow – oh dear – they had managed to find old boxes of BREs used in an appeal seven years previous that were actually addressed to our president the aforementioned Bishop.

 

Oh my goodness, when my copies arrived in the post – to show the appeal had landed – I just sat there looking at them in silence for what must have been minutes.  Then after a huge sigh and a series of rapid and ranting phone calls to the mailing house I rallied my poor team, who were equally mortified and upset.

 

We spent the entire day and evening printing apology letters and getting them straight out in first class post.  I signed over two thousand letters that day by hand – it was important to me to sign every one.

 

We had some complaints but the prompt apology was accepted graciously by everyone.

 

So my fellow fundraisers – and yes a couple of you reading this will recall the day and stuffed those envelopes alongside me – as my horoscope this morning stated:

 

Don’t assume that someone else has taken care of things.

Even if you delegated these tasks, double check them.

It’s your neck on the line!

 

DON’T EVER FORGET THAT FROM ONE BLADE OF GRASS WE CAN GROW A LAWN

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.

KEEP ON GIVING.

Di x

 



One Wedding, four conversations, and tomorrow a funeral….
Di Flatt

Di Flatt

This is my personal blog so always remember that these are my views and thoughts and not those of my charity. If I do say anything as ‘Epilepsy Action’ then I will make that loud and clear.

Good afternoon everyone. Well hurrah the trustee report is done and printed, and I only have one or two grey hairs from it. Unfortunately it will come around again all too soon in a couple of months – why oh why is it that it always takes me by surprise !!

Well I had a good evening last night, bronchitis starting to clear up, cooked a nice filet steak and then got busy networking and chatting with friends on line. At one point during the evening I had four conversations taking place at the same time – and let me tell you that it got a little hairy trying to keep up with each one and not get confused.

I was talking to my niece about her becoming a police woman and her forthcoming college course, whilst at the same time talking to my sister about weddings and wedding dresses (for her not me!).

I was also giving big sister (or agony aunt!) advice to one of the boys from my local rugby club about a young lady he is thinking about asking out, and was also talking to a man in my own life just catching up on my day and his.

At one point I was busily typing away that ‘we need to speak to the vicar and get the prices for the church ceremony and the additional costs for bells and choir etc’ and just as was about to send realised I was in the wrong conversation box !!!!

Oh my dear man friend you are so lucky you didn’t get a big shock there. Hence there was a rapid deletion from that box and a big sigh of relief from me. So note to self for today is to only hold one conversation at a time in future so that I don’t give anyone a big surprise, or even worse really upset them!

I guess it’s a little like getting it right with your donor and supporter correspondence. Just one error like getting someone’s name wrong can spoil the relationship for ever and as I said the other day with the credit crunch constantly looming over us fundraisers, relationship fundraising is absolutely key. So getting the right data to the right person at the right time is absolutely imperative to keep our donors and supporters happy!

So if I do go online tonight I shall be holding one conversation at a time, so that I am absolutely clear who I am talking to, about what, and why. Or perhaps I shall just be old fashioned and use the telephone !

One quick reminder – National Doodle Day ™ is now only 3 days away !!

Remember to vote for your favourite celebrity doodle!

As of right now Doug Rao, who plays the role of DS Stuart Turner in The Bill is in the lead.

You can easily choose your favourite doodle from the 2009 celebrity doodle thumbnail gallery, by just clicking through to the large version, finding its ID number (shown below each doodle) and then texting the word DOODLE followed by a space then the ID number to 80039.

Please text carefully: if the ID number includes 0, that’s the number zero, not the letter O.

By the way there was a good piece in The Sun today about our doodlers !

Tomorrow I am going to tell you about the big faux pas that happened at one of my previous charities when my appeal correspondence to supporters did go wrong! I have never had to sign so many apologies ever – including getting the two thousand letters out overnight – and I hope to goodness that I never have to do that again – and this faux pas was NOT about wedding dresses and choirs, it was unfortunately about a funeral!

So have a good day and I’ll speak to you again soon.

DON’T EVER FORGET THAT FROM ONE BLADE OF GRASS WE CAN GROW A LAWN

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.

KEEP ON GIVING.

Di x