Di Flatt's Blog


It may be time for change – but it is not the time to ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater!’

Bathwater

Today I have read the thoughtful news piece in UK Fundraising, from the very eloquent Mr Ian McQuillin. You can read it here “Should fundraisers strike?”

It certainly seems it is time for careful thinking and for good measured and transparent responses. Things clearly need to change, and we need to ensure that any and all changes are indeed for the better for both fundraisers and donors.

At the same time, for some (or perhaps all of us) it may be time to come off the fence and speak out proudly for the amazing profession that we have chosen to work within.

‘Striking’ I think would be a tad too far of course, as without the brilliant fundraisers of the UK (and beyond) we will not then raise the money needed. Money that is vital to pay for the work of charities that many many people need (and increasingly so with a growing/ageing population and the many drastic cuts in government grants and individuals’ benefits).

But we do need to look at what our donors both want and need from us – and let us not forget that we have an extremely generous UK community.

We as fundraisers do a great thing – we bring people together to give the best of their-selves, be this expertise, time or money. And for every complaint there are always tens of thousands of happy donors who feel good about being able to make a positive difference.

We cannot and must not ignore the problems and issues – and we of course are not. We as a community of fundraisers need to address every issue.

But please, for our donors’ sakes, for our beneficiaries’ sakes, and indeed for our own sakes – let us not get so bogged down that we forget we are #proudfundraisers. Let us not forget the reasons why we took on this incredible profession.

We need to celebrate the generosity of the UK and applaud the donors who ensure that our charities can continue to do the work that is needed.

We are lucky to work amongst and with such generous and caring people, donors and supporters. And we have a huge responsibility to look after this generosity and the donors as individuals – but we must also place merit on the need look after ourselves as fundraisers and our ability to do the work we do as a member of the fundraising profession.

It was quoted in the UK Giving 2014 report (dated April 2015):

“Our analysis provides the following picture for individual giving in the UK for 2014:

 “Eight out of ten people (79%) participated in at least one charitable giving or social action activity in the 12 months prior to interview, with over half (57%) having done so in the last month

and

“In terms of giving money to charity (either directly or through sponsorship of an individual) 70% report doing so in the 12 months prior to interview and 44% do so in a typical month.”

See the report for the full analysis here UK Giving 2014 – an overview of charitable giving in the UK in 2014 (dated April 2015)

They go on to summarise the report as follows:

“In summary then, these results suggest that in order to encourage people to give regularly, charities need to:

  • Communicate the positive impact that donations from the public have
  • Provide clarity on how their charity’s aims and focus differ to other organisations working in the same area
  • Be aware of and respond to the individual circumstances of existing donors, so as not to ask for too much, too often
  • Communicate the flexibility of planned giving channels and/or increase the flexibility to meet the changing needs of donors
  • Provide reassurance about the security of personal and financial details and the ‘professionalism’ of charities in handling personal data
  • Continue to raise awareness of all the various ways in which people can give – including regular, planned channels for giving money, but also by giving goods, volunteering their time or sharing their voice – in order to engage all people no matter what their financial circumstances”

We as #proudfundraisers will do well to heed these results of speaking to the people of the UK.

So, I shall be awaiting the conclusions of Sir Stuart Etherington’s review with interest and with hope that it will clearly and fairly inform the future of fundraising legislation.

But we must take care too, for as my much loved Nanna would have said, whilst it may be time for change “let us not throw the baby out with the bathwater!”

As ever I remain a #proudfundraiser and CEO of Sweetpea Charity, and I will always strive to be the #bestyoucanbe. And in these times of change I am sure you will too!

Hold onto the baby my fundraising friends!  Hold on tight…………

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#proudfundraiser

This blog was first shown at http://www.institute-of-fundraising.org.uk/blog/proudfundraiser

20140713-164231-60151468.jpg

We are, this year, celebrating #proudfundraiser. And people sometimes ask, who and what are we as fundraisers? What do we do? Well we raise the money that pays for all the important work charities undertake.

There are many types of fundraiser. From the on street face to face fundraiser, to trust fundraisers writing specialised grant applications, to corporate fundraisers developing partnerships with business, event fundraisers organising small and huge events, major donor fundraisers working with wealthy individuals, special events fundraisers organising balls and gala dinners, to community fundraisers, legacy fundraisers and more.

We raise money from all kinds of fundraising. From running events, to appeal letters, telephone calls and through on street face to face requests. From parachute jumps, to dress down days, to coffee mornings, raffles and growing moustaches. Sponsor forms, mailings, direct debits, cheques and thank you notes. We are pretty busy!

And to direct a fundraising team you need knowledge of all the different types of fundraising AND the skill set to implement all the different methods within each one. Phew!

For me, I know that being a #proudfundraiser is only possible because of my very wide ranging skill set. So as I was thinking about writing this, I began listing the things I need to know about and be expert in to be a fundraising director in 2014.

Direct marketing. Social media. Trading. Product design. Sports events. Gala dinners. Tribute funds. Restricted funds. Management accounts. Forecasting. Legacy management. Payroll giving. Recycling. Charitable trusts. Corporate partnerships. Cause related and affiliate marketing. Gambling Commission. Charity Commission. Fundraising Standards Board. Institute of Fundraising Code. PFRA. Home money boxes. Telemarketing. Charity shops. Web design. Risk assessments. Public liability insurance. Due diligence. Membership schemes. Gift aid. Donor benefits. Appeals. Newsletters. Collection tins. SEO and PPC. PR. Recruitment. Strategy. Business Planning. Key performance indicators. Current affairs. Return on investment. Customer service. Staff morale. Investment in people. The fundraising promise. VAT. Third Sector. Civil Society. Fast moving technology! Age cohorts. Target markets. Audience geography and demography. Rapport. Diversity and equality. Databases and spreadsheets. Public speaking. Presentations. Representing our charities as ambassadors. My actual list is much longer!

So #proudfundraiser I think we should remind ourselves of just how complex and professional a role we play.

Every fundraiser is integral to the work a charity does. Everything costs money. Staff, equipment, buildings, power, travel, services. Computers, databases, paper and pens. And we have to raise money to make all these things be possible, and to make all the necessary work happen.

And as we talk or write to all the people who generously donate money or take part in events we have lots and lots of conversations. So we don’t only focus on the money. We focus on why the money is needed.

We focus on the end result – the impact and the outcomes that can be achieved.

We care about and focus on the positive difference that can be made to the world because of the generosity of donors and supporters.

We show how through the money we raise we are seeking cures and coping strategies for Epilepsy, Cancer, Alzheimer’s, and many other diseases and conditions.

We show how we are saving lives, creating happier futures, and looking after the environment. We show how we are protecting animals, bees, whales, trees and rainforests.

And we show how we are making positive changes every day for people like you and people like me.

My job is complex and difficult, and I love it. I know that as #proudfundraisers we are using our skills to achieve some great things.

And what I am really proud about is that instead of using our skills to generate profit for commercial companies we CHOOSE to put our skills, expertise and abilities to use to deliver outcomes within the charity sector.

We are NOT here because we can’t be anywhere else. We have as much intellect and skill as doctors, nurses, solicitors and lawyers – but our calling in life is to be passionate about making life better for other people, animals and environments.

And we HAVE to be good at what we do, because it’s not about profit to make the fat cat richer, it’s often a matter of life and death. Failure is not an option.

I am proud of what I do, and of what my fundraising team and organisation does. Fundraising enables my charity, Epilepsy Action, to achieve better outcomes for people with epilepsy.

As fundraisers we carry a huge responsibility – but with high personal reward and affirmation of contributing to a better world.

So I wanted to finish by saying THANK YOU #proudfundraiser.

You are amazing and you have vision. You are prepared to be innovative and you want to change the world for the better – and you do, with every generous gift and donation you achieve.

Each and every fundraiser has chosen to be in the sector. And that’s really something to be proud of.

You are the world’s change-makers – and I as just one #proudfundraiser thank you for that!

Di Flatt
#ProudFundraiser
@diflatt

Download the #proudfundraiser toolkit here: http://www.institute-of-fundraising.org.uk/proudfundraiser/proud-toolkit/



Three days to regain sanity – IoF National Convention

Well I’m just packing my case to set off for the 2012 Institute of Fundraising National Convention. I’m looking forward to catching up with colleagues and friends and regaining a little sanity in what is an incredibly crazy busy year for me.

I have lots of great things going on, which pleases me greatly! But sleep and ‘me time’ are pretty much on hold right now. Thus these few days in a learning environment with people I respect, admire and in some cases aspire to, are of huge importance to me.

One of the things you have to work out as a director of fundraising, is how to deal with the isolation of being the boss – and at the same not being the ‘same’ as the rest of the senior management team.

You want me to explain? Ok here goes, I can but try …..

Fundraising, no matter how well an organisation tries, is the funny add on that people don’t fully understand. We don’t deliver services. Some of us have little contact with beneficiaries. Yet we are these crazy mad passionate people who raise millions and millions for our causes.

How do we do that? They ask. We do it because beneath the passion and enthusiasm is professionalism and intellect. We don’t just shake tins!

Business plans, risk analysis, in depth forecasts and cash flows, financial monitoring, key performance indicators, event planning, business cases to raise finance, meetings with the great and the good, marketing, media, trading …… shall I go on!

No need, you all know this already!

So whilst at conference this year remember and celebrate the brilliant job you do.

Learn from colleagues – and not just in the sessions. My greatest insights have come from the conversations I have had with my peers each year.

I need these three days! They keep me going for the rest of the year!

So fundraisers, don’t underestimate how important these few days are. Make the most of it!

I shall see you there. I am speaking on Tuesday afternoon. I will be at the party!

Enjoy!



They might not be popular, but we need face to face fundraisers
May 30, 2012, 6:48 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

(as featured at http://www.institute-of-fundraising.org.uk/blog/)

This week I was reading a thread of comments on LinkedIn about street fundraising. It became quite heated, with strong opinions, and many valid statements throughout the debate on whether street fundraising is good or bad.

It made me really think about not only how we work, but how we support each other in our fundraising efforts. I am happy to state that I personally do not like street fundraising, but equally I don’t like inserts in newspapers and magazines, or door drops that litter my letterbox (in fact inserts and non personalised charity appeals usually end up in my bin!).

However, regardless of my personal likes and dislikes, as a fundraising professional I keep all of these and all other methods in my fundraising toolbox. WHY? Well because they work. They are business tools that allow me and my fundraisers to deliver our primary objective – to generate income to allow my charity to deliver services and create a better future for our beneficiaries.

Love or hate the ‘marmite’ of our profession we know that it works. It sits within the ready list of ‘no brainer’ activities we can draw upon to increase number of donors and income.

Whichever tools are my least favourite I won’t slate them. Because surely that would devalue, not only the particular discipline, but fundraisers, fundraising, and ultimately the charities and the sector itself.

Unfortunately street fundraising gets bad press: from those outside of and from those within the fundraising profession. Not surprising when it is always the bad apples that get the press inches – nothing new there, it makes for a juicier news story!

However, I also wonder if some people just don’t want to have the needs of others put under their nose. Always easier to keep our blinkers on I know. Guilt is a mean feeling that we want to keep at bay… and those street fundraisers do put it right out there under our noses – no wonder we often pull our blinkers tighter and walk right on by!

Yes we know it works. And yes whilst most street fundraisers behave courteously and appropriately there are unfortunately a few that let the side down. As a sector we have worked hard together to redress this, working with IoF, PFRA, and FRSB. We will continue to do so.

It saddens me when anyone devalues this fundraising tool and therefore the potential contribution of the ‘man/woman on the street’, by slating face to face street fundraising. You will note that I refuse to use the portmanteau of charity and mugging in this text – this is not a term to embrace but one to throw out of our sector’s vocabulary, in my humble opinion.

We need street and door fundraising. It is an ideal way to reach the masses who may not otherwise seek out or hear about the important work our charities are doing.

I’m about to undertake a door to door test campaign. It will generate a return of almost 300% over five years. And that’s without calculating income that will continue beyond five years. A 300% financial return to deliver services is an easy choice.

As my esteemed sector colleague Sean Triner said just the other day (during the LinkedIn debate I refer to): “… I am a fan of face to face. Nothing in modern times has added more money to charity coffers to make the world a better place than this technique. It has got an entire new generation of people who didn’t give, giving. People aged 30-55 are not donor age, yet give millions.” I wholeheartedly agree with Sean.

I think that our job is to give our various audiences what they want once we have managed to engage with them. It doesn’t matter whether that engagement is achieved through inserts, telephone, door drops, internet, face to face, street, door or chance meeting in a lift. Until we respect all these channels to engaging new audiences we will be missing out on potential supporters and donors from all walks of life.

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COMMUNICATIONS: are you ‘talking’ to people so they actually ‘hear’ you?

Are you ‘talking’ to people so they actually ‘hear’ you?

At a recent meeting with HSBC and PriceWaterhouseCoopers they told me that we need to be planning for a four year economic recovery period. Unrestricted income has been shrinking and large numbers of charities have reduced income. So now is the time to really think about your communications with all stakeholders. Below I have listed a few things I believe we should all be thinking about at this time!

Unrestricted charitable income is shrinking:

Throughout 2011 it was widely discussed across the charitable sector that:

  • traditional unrestricted charity income (including legacies) is shrinking
  • charitable giving across all disciplines is down
  • many charities are turning to income generation using social enterprise models to ‘sell’ services, expertise, and training
  • donors are giving to a reduced number of charities. Recent research has shown the following.  The average number of charities donors support:

1980s   5-7

1990s   3-5       giving level not gone down but giving to fewer

2000s   2-3       BUT for some (higher value donors) their giving level has gone up

  • only 8% of donors give £100 or more!

 

Recession trends:

  • Over 90% of charities are currently experience real term reductions in income.
  • Eight out of ten expect further reductions
  • 11% remain unsure about the future
  • Numbers experiencing reductions of 10 – 30% have doubled since the last PWC report (December 2010)
  • Charities in receipt of statutory income are feeling the effects as £1.2 billion cuts come in by October 2011.

(source: PWC and CFDG, Managing in a Downturn 2011)

 

So, for all of us it is ever more crucial that our communications are reaching the people we need to reach, whether they are current or future beneficiaries, or current or future donors!  Are your stakeholders ‘hearing’ your messages?

 

Age cohorts (each generation ‘talks’ and ‘listens’ differently):

 

With the rise of social media rapidly changing our communications environment it is crucial that throughout the whole of your communications that you consider and respond to the fact that different age cohorts behave very differently.

 

Are you looking carefully enough at how you are connecting with each cohort in the future for maximum results?

 

Are you working with the various teams across your organisation to ensure that you are gathering relevant knowledge?

 

Seniors

1901-1924

  • The heroes of WWII
  • See glossy fundraising materials as a waste of money
  • Give out of duty.

Silent

1924-1945

  • This particular generation often goes un-noticed
  • Quiet and industrious they were not the heroes of WWII like the seniors or extraverts like the post-war baby boomers. Beats rather than hippies they were rarely leaders but became solid dependable charity supporters, giving out of duty
  • Now largely retired, their legacies are keeping many organisations artificially afloat; as the boomers are more likely to spend or give their money away before they pass on.

Baby Boomers

1946-1964

  • Hold the wealth
  • However, may be paying to care for parents
  • Or may have their older children still at or coming back home
  • Or may be spending money on helping children through university
  • Or may be spending money on helping children purchase a property ?

 

Generation X

1965-1977

  • No experience of poverty
  • Have material possessions
  • Comfortable with technology
  • Expect good design
  • Will not read heavy text
  • Need convincing of the problem
  • When using social media we would need to be very clear there is a need and that beneficiaries are deserving.

Generation Y

1978-1994

  • Also known as Generation C = community
  • 100 mobile texts per day
  • Hive mind
  • FaceBook
  • You Tube
  • Gap year – third world experiences
  • Comfortable with debt
  • Give online/face to face/QR Codes (the new bar code recognition)
  • Celebrity – created not earned (eg for Baby Boomers generation celebrity HAD to be earned)
  • Very educated
  • Understands poverty overseas.

 

The way the age cohorts respond:

Age Cohort:

Print:

Telephone:

Street:

Internet:

Mobile:

Seniors

X

 

 

 

 

Silent

X

 

 

 

 

Baby Boomers

X

X

 

X

 

Generation X

 

X

X

X

 

Generation Y

 

 

X

X

X

Note: Generation X and Generation Y NEVER respond to mail! Currently, however, our content through other channels is not yet strong enough, eg: email newsletters.

 

This week, consider your various communications and take some time to look at how they fit (or indeed do not fit) into the different cohorts.  You may find you have some changes to make!

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



Fundraising in a recession – some of the challenges …
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.

Future challenges for fundraising

We are in turbulent times.  Changes that take place now may stay with us for many years or indeed change the face of fundraising forever in certain areas.

Whilst some organisations will just make the most of what they can at this time, for others the recession will really begin to clarify thinking.  Changes will be put in place that will lead to stronger, longer and more business like relationships between organisations (both charity and non charity) that may stay with us for the long term.

Following many discussions with my fundraising colleagues across the sector, there are certain things I feel we need to be very aware of:

Developing a fundraising ethos across the whole of our organisations, for example our procurement officers, building managers, service delivery departments – we need to be speaking to them about working with suppliers to our organisations as a source of support.  We already have a link with these organisations as purchasers of their services and goods.  Whilst often they may not be in a position to offer direct financial support this does not rule out charity of the year status and them undertaking some employee fundraising throughout the year, or indeed as a one off event.  Equally we could be advertising the charity events we are already doing to these groups.

Developing fundraising with younger people, it is imperative that we begin to reach younger people and to get them more involved in fundraising and charity support.  Some organisations are more suited to this on the large scale, such as the charities that can put on multiple mass participation events across the country (eg CRUK and Race for Life).  However smaller charities should also be looking to develop this type of thing on a local or regional basis.  A number of smaller charities working with a similar client base could work together to produce a series of mass participation events across the country thus building the brand and publicity of the event, taking it from being seen as local to national.

In the run up to 2012 and the Olympics young people will be thinking about sport.  So sport events aimed at the younger age group will hopefully prove successful.  We as charities need to capitalise on the events that are already happening around us and the Olympics is a prime example of something we should be tapping into as a resource for ideas.

Corporate support, is changing by the day right now. CSR has developed significantly over recent years but many charities do not seem to have taken this on board.  Particularly some of the smaller, regional charities.  We are in a recession and we need to build relationships with corporate organisations in a different way to how it has been approached previously.  CSR is no longer about philanthropy.  We need to be looking at this in terms of corporate engagement and not as pure fundraising.

Some charities I have spoken to still seem to be seeking funding and gifts in kind as their first option with corporates.  Yet this is the last thing the corporates I speak to are looking for right now.  They don’t have the budgets for donation giving any more.

It is important that charities take on board the corporate position and quickly.  If we do not change then we will risk ruining any chance of engagement with corporates as they will just begin (and some already do) their own charitable events and support things directly and not through current charities.

It is imperative that we look at what corporate organisations need.  They are not looking to just hand out funding any more.  We need to put things on a direct business to business relationship.  The things that corporates are looking for right now, and in this order are:

  • A fit with their corporate objectives.
  • A fit with their brand.
  • Staff involvement – good for morale and PR.
  • Networking.
  • Are we campaigning for the same or similar goals or objectives.
  • Charity of the year is still there, but the emphasis is on employee fundraising.
  • Match giving to events staff participate in – but again there is less of this at present and it is at the bottom of their preference list.

Only then will they look at gifts, direct funding etc.  We need to be building good strong business to business partnerships.  I think these types of partnerships will work better, and be stronger.  I also believe this will change the face of corporate fundraising for the long term – if this works well then why would the corporate wish to go back to the old way.

It is no longer a case of ‘what we want from you’ it is now a case of:

‘What can we do for each other?’ and ‘What can we achieve together?’

There will be more demand for co-branding recognition – corporates will want to be seen to be partnering with charities.

This may shift from being always the big well known charities to showing that they are willing to work with more local/regional or niche charities.  From discussions I have had with some corporates there is a perception that some of the big charities have enough income falling through the door each day, so perhaps it is time for them to spread their support at this time of economic downturn.

Of course being realistic this is likely to be just ‘talk’ as the corporates will still want to enjoy the biggest reach and publicity – but we need to be aware of this.

Corporates are currently inundated with requests so they are spoilt for choice – if we do not change ourselves to fit into their needs then we will most definitely lose out.

Trusts and Foundations, this is a difficult area and there is much discussion about this at the moment.

Most trusts use careful risk management to ensure that if investments go down that they can continue to undertake their work with charities.

However there is much talk about trusts tightening their belts and some (even larger trusts) only continuing to give to those charities they have already committed to supporting.

From experience trusts will say this to attempt to limit the number of requests, so we should not be discouraged from at least approaching them.  However, we absolutely must go in with a very tailored approach to each trust.

The days of scatter gun approaches is long gone.  Applications must be targeted and strong, closely fitting the trust’s criteria and showing how the work requiring funding will bring about positive change.

I have seen a number of small trusts disappear this summer, certainly my own budget is missing around £30k to £40k of funding from long term funders.  Most of this is due to those trusts having to close due to the economy.

Also trusts are leaning towards supporting sustainability right now and not new developments.  Charities with decent reserves are not being funded so will become less secure themselves as time goes on.

Legacies, although some legacy income is reduced due to property sales etc being down. I believe this remains a strong area for growth.

It is not current money so people can feel secure with their day to day finances and still feel good about doing something for their charity(ies) by adding them to their will.  We need to capitalise on this.

People will not stop dying so we ignore the legacy market at our peril.  Particularly for older people who will have budget concerns right now, most especially those who rely on interest on savings etc – their charitable giving may go down – but they may be happy to transfer that life giving into a legacy.

Individual giving, in direct contrast to what I have said above – I have seen a couple of large donations to our appeals this last couple of months from quite elderly supporters who feel they should give it now and not wait – as the charity needs it now.

This is a real reflection as to how turbulent things are right now. We cannot second guess the donor.  I guess the one thing we must all remember right now is that it is never about us – it is all about the donor.

Many charities get this wrong and will continue to push the charity story – this is what we have to change.  We have to look at every individual donor (be they an individual person, a trust, a company) and look at what it is that they are seeking and develop our offerings, stories, requests around that.

It brings us right back to those wise words of ‘win –win’.  Win-win solutions are the key right now.

So what can you do?  Now this is the tough bit.  We cover all these things at conferences and at national convention – but I sometimes wonder if people really hear it.  I have suggested to the Institute of Fundraising that perhaps a series of ‘how to’ sheets could be developed.  A ‘how to fundraise in a recession’ series perhaps.

Finally – technology  is changing by the day – we are all (well many of us) now using twitter and facebook etc fairly well.  But next comes google wave – and if you haven’t read up on this then you need to.

Things are changing so quickly.  We need to be working out how we use all this technology to reach all our donors and most especially the younger donors.

Well guys – these are my thoughts for today!  Send me your thoughts and ideas and stories on the challenges we are all facing right now (to diannemflatt@hotmail.com ) and I will use them in the next piece.

Take care of yourselves – think outside of the usual boxes – and remember we will all meet failure on the way to success!

My big idea – I know some of you will be waiting for an update on ‘my next big thing’  – well hang in there.  A few meetings to go and things to organise and then all can be revealed.

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



Is this going to be the Next Big Thing, New Big Idea, or indeed The Next ‘Wristband’? I shall not yet give you its name – but it is coming…

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.

I have had the busiest few weeks since the IoF National Convention – which it has to be said was the best yet in mine and many others’ opinions. A lot of hard work and energy combined with fun and laughter took place across the three days. Fundraisers and suppliers from across the sector came together to share ideas, breakthroughs, problems and concerns – alongside award winning work celebrated at the National Fundraising Awards Dinner.

Whilst this was all happening around me I felt my usual buzz of ideas constantly bubbling through me. One idea that had been forming for a few weeks flickered through my mind again and again fizzing like bubbles in a champagne flute to the top of my thoughts. I eventually shared this idea with a couple of my most trusted fundraising colleagues and was delighted they too thought this idea was one that could really take off.

I have been working on this Next Big Thing every day ever since – perhaps sometimes only for half an hour here and there. I have a note pad and pen beside my bed for those middle of the night thoughts that need to be captured before they are lost – and some of these have proven so far to be the best ones!

So this brings me to today or should I say tonight.

Here I am heading rapidly towards my Next Big Thing, experiencing a rollercoaster of terrifying yet exciting waves of emotion as I move this forward day by day, week by week.

Next week I am meeting with a potential supplier, mindful that this could potentially revolutionise his relatively small business – is he prepared for that? Indeed is he the right supplier?

I am meeting with people from a national magazine to discuss potential photo shoots – for which I need people of suitable celebrity status! There are so many things and so many people to organise and enthuse.

Currently, and I really do mean currently here right now this evening at my own dining table, I am drawing up ‘commercially in confidence’ contractual agreements for all concerned parties. Everything will be embargoed until we go live!

I am filled with fear as to whether I can pull this off – yet full of bravery and perhaps bravado that yes of course, I can and will make this happen. However time is short and I feel that I would like to have a couple of extra available days each week. It is so hard to have to rely on so many other people.

I have booked some annual leave – yet I know I will fill these days with discussions and meetings to progress the idea further. So many meetings need to take place yet.

As part of this I will be working with another charity; at least one magazine and perhaps two, my supplier, an events company and at least one large club. Next job is to seek meetings with potential merchandise outlets.

Three fifteen am this morning I awoke thinking – is this the right supplier? I have to get this right.

Absolutely I have to get this right – not only for my charity and the charity I have decided to partner with. But also for other charities across the sector.

I have once again employed that most necessary concept of K.I.S.S.

KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID

This Next Big Thing is simple enough to ripple throughout the sector. Simple and with a ready target market. A market already willing and able to participate.

I have adrenalin running through my veins and my head is buzzing with ideas around how this could really work so well.

For now I need to complete this paperwork. Keep noting down on paper the constant stream of ideas and options. And maybe have some sleep.

More phone calls and planning tomorrow.

I feel as if I have told you nothing. All I can say for now is WATCH THIS SPACE.

The NEXT BIG THING is coming.

As you have heard me say before – never ever focus on the dark but switch on your lights. Play big, serve the world, and give others permission to do the same. Keep on giving and we will keep on receiving. 

Take care, goodnight and I shall tell you all more 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