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




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.



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







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 !



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

Yes, we’ve had the Oscars and the Brits, but here’s the next award to draw a crowd: the annual National Doodle Day ™.

the-dood-2009This 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.


HELLO ! Well I am finally back in the office, hurrah! Although have been told several times that I should go straight back home. However I have persevered and am still here, tied to the desk, desperately trying to catch up on work that I couldn’t do from home – mainly the trustee report!! Have been given a reprieve to mid day tomorrow to have it finished, so here I am type type type, figures figures, figures.

I did notice earlier the three desks nearest to my little corner no longer have anyone sat at them. My events manager has moved to another desk for the day and two people have even taken flex time ! Currently feel as if am in quarantine!

However, now on my lunch break and just enjoyed coronation chicken but hmmnn I followed this with the most yeeuurchh ( Paul how should I have spelt that one? ) low fat yoghurt – so yeeuurch followed this with chocolate from the staff tuck shop! So much for my diet. Although I did lose 3 pounds last week with being ill – and hey as still not feeling great maybe the chocolate on the lips will slide straight off the hips and miss them completely. Here’s hoping…

Although not sure that will work for the lovely caramel fudge consumed yesterday, of which there remains a rather large bag thereof still sitting on my dining table requesting that I fulfil its destiny and eat it….. anyone fancy some?

Well here in the office my team are rushing about finalising everything as National Doodle Day ™ rapidly approaches – only 4 days to go ! So yes today I am definitely plugging my own charity Epilepsy Action.

If you haven’t yet heard about this (in my opinion BRILLIANT) national event, National Doodle Day ™ is an annual fundraising event that we, Epilepsy Action, run in partnership with The Neurofibromatosis Association. I actually think that as we continue through the credit crunch fundraising in partnership should become more widespread. The link we have is that both conditions can cause seizures, ensuring synergy between the two charities. I am certainly always on the lookout for new and innovative partnerships to generate income!

We have some brilliant celebrities taking part this year and I have to say a HUGE thank you to every one of them for taking the time to doodle, sign and send in to us. Take a look at the website www.nationaldoodleday.org.uk.

A host of famous names from the worlds of fashion, entertainment, sport and literature have put pen to paper for this popular event. Doodles by the likes of Sophie Dahl, Jonathan Ross, Daniel Radcliffe and Heston Blumenthal will be auctioned, and lucky bidders will also be able to choose from countless other celebrity doodles, including: Dragon’s Den entrepreneur, Deborah Meaden; BBC Radio 1 DJ and TV presenter, Edith Bowman; Strictly stars, Alesha Dixon and Jill Halfpenny; actors, Bob Hoskins; Diana Rigg and Jason Flemyng; award-winning film director and creator of Wallace and Gromit, Nick Park; survival expert, Bear Grylls; and comedy actors, Ricky Gervais and Simon Pegg – amongst many others.

This year’s theme is ‘All About You’, so all our doodlers were asked to doodle on what they know best – whether in the form of a self-portrait or a doodle that otherwise represents them.

In fact 350 celebrity doodles will be auctioned this year, and around 750 celebrities have taken part in the annual competition over the years.

The celebrity e-bay auction opens on Friday 27 February 2009 and lasts for ten days.

Schools, Colleges, and individuals can also take part in our separate National Doodle Day ™ competitions, fully detailed on the website; and businesses, clubs and societies are also being encouraged to hold their own National Doodle Day ™ competitions.

We even have two large shopping centres running National Doodle Day ™ events on our behalf on the day, Meadowhall Centre in Sheffield and the Eastgate Centre in Inverness. Across the UK people are scribbling and doodling away all having fun whilst raising much needed income for the two charities.

All our winners will have their work displayed in the doodle Hall of Fame on the National Doodle Day ™ website, and will also be able to see what their doodles reveal about their personality in the ‘meanings’ section of the site.

You can also vote for your favourite celebrity doodle!

Yes, we’ve had the Oscars and the Brits, but here’s the next award to draw a crowd: the annual National Doodle Day ™.

Dood Award

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.

As of right now Daniel (Harry Potter) Radcliffe is in the lead.

The winning celebrity doodler will receive the fabulous cast iron ‘Dood Award’ (pictured above) designed and kindly donated by Heather Cumming, Keltneyburn Smithy Gallery & Workshop (www.ironfairy.co.uk).

National Doodle Day is one of our most fun events in our annual calendar, and I am excited to see how much we raise in this its sixth year. The last five years of doodling have raised more than £160,000 towards providing vital support to people with epilepsy and neurofibromatosis.

All money raised by National Doodle Day will support the work of the two charities.
All text and images © National Doodle Day ™ all rights reserved.

Well I just wanted to let you all know about this event with it coming up so soon – hope you have time to vote for your favourite celebrity! 4 days and counting……….

I would like to have time to tell you about my lovely weekend, okay lots of intermittent coughing prevailed, but I still managed to have some fun time including a trip out to the coast for some medicinal sea air (and the lovely caramel fudge) – which definitely seemed to help (the sea air not the fudge silly)! But will have to fill you in later as I really must get back to the trustee report…

So take some time out for blue sky thinking and look for some innovative ways to partner with other organisations (including mine) to make the most of your income generation potential this year. Best of luck with that, and we can catch up again soon.


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

Day 4 in Di Flatt’s blogosphere – Major Donors, turning the pyramid on its head, and why are there no fat insects?

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

Di Flatt

Di Flatt

Well a jolly good Friday hello to everyone!




Friday is dress down day in my office – but today here I am still at home with the bronchitis – and am so dressed down I am in my pyjamas as I write this.


I slept late today, and think that is probably a good sign towards recovery.  So I hope to be back in office on Monday, actually need to be as work is piling up, and my trustee report that was due today is not done as I don’t have access to the data I need being stuck here at home.  Sorry trustees, please feel charitable to my dilemma… 


Don’t think they would want me in the office yet anyway with this hacking coughing still ongoing – they wouldn’t be able to hear themselves on the phone for a start. 


Anyway let’s get onto fundraising……




We all have them, at differing levels depending on the size of our charity and our donor/supporter constituency of course.  Your major donors may be those giving over £500 per annum, the next charity it may be over £500k per annum, and so on.  It is as with many things all relative.


But as I was saying yesterday is that in the current economy I think we need to be thinking of all our supporters as major donors regardless of giving levels.


We all know the seven steps of major donor fundraising (and if you don’t then go find out).  The usual fundraising pyramid, the need to ensure you pitch for your largest donation first etc etc, for the top of the pyramid.


Usual pyramid of course looks something like this.



£1m   £1m

£500k £500k £500K

£100K £100k  £100k  £100k

£50K£50k  £50k  £50k  £50k  £50k

£10K £10k  £10k  £10k  £10k  £10k  £10k

£2k   £2k   £2k   £2k   £2k   £2k   £2k   £2k   £2k

£100 £100 £100 £100 £100 £100 £100 £100 £100 £100

£100 £100 £100 £100 £100 £100 £100 £100 £100 £100 £100

 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1

£1 £1 £1 £11 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1

£1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1

£1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1  £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1

£1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1


It is easy to use this pyramid when you are talking about or to the big major donors.  Every major donor wants to feel they are at or near the top of the pyramid – human nature. 


Well I have been having some thoughts on this – why should all our £1 donors at the bottom of the pyramid not feel as important as those £1m givers at the top?  I always try to remember that giving is relative to what we have to give, and thus one person’s £1 could be as significant an outgoing to another’s £500k.


At the end of the day we all want to feel good about our giving.  It is a rare human being who is totally philanthropic – we all want some sort of return.  We all want to ‘feel’ that we have done something good, made a life better, given someone a chance, changed the world.


We need to also get this across to the smaller donor to make them feel like a major donor.  We must never leave them feeling that their £1 wasn’t worth very much, we need to show them that every £1 is worth a huge amount to our beneficiaries or cause.


So this is what I think and am using and saying in my everyday fundraising and world changing antics.


I think it is time to turn the pyramid on its head!


Every single donation to our charities is important from the £1 donation to the £1million + donation, as I said yesterday.  So how do we demonstrate this worth to our smaller donor so that they ‘feel’ that they have done something major?


Remember what I said yesterday about how by myself I am alone, with supporters we become a queue, then a crowd then a community.  Well this approach also lends itself to my new way of thinking regards the pyramid.


So here is my pyramid turned on its head – bear with me I know visually it doesn’t look much like a pyramid on here – scroll down to the £1 donor and then read upwards.


The benefits and changes we have effected for future generations – FOREVER.


The economic benefits to our country(ies)/the treasury: through improved education, families being supported, young people gaining employment, people staying in employment, improved health outcomes leading to reduced hospital visits, people being enabled to contribute back to their communities –  so much we could each list dependent on the work of our organisations.


The indirect beneficiaries, children, parents, wider family, friends, communities, employers, countries – that benefit from the work we have done with our direct beneficiaries.


The outcomes of our work for beneficiaries: improved lifestyles, improved chances, better education, increased employment opportunity, medical cures, better health, improved environment, and so on.


The direct beneficiaries of our work.


Charity/not for profit.


£1 donor



By turning the basic pyramid on its head we can demonstrate to every single donor that they are absolutely pivotal to our work, to our beneficiaries, to changing lives, and improving environments, to improving things for future generations, for changing the world – forever !


I think I am going to call this the ‘cumulative pyramid approach’ © Di Flatt Feb 2009


Every single one of my £1 donors is effecting change – and I for one am grateful for every single one of them.  Thank you!




Now in terms of being careful with resources – I read a funny piece recently in a book a friend bought me for Christmas.


The piece is titled ‘Why are there no fat insects?’


Well the reason there are no fat insects is that “insects actually have their skeletons on the outside so they simply can’t get fat.  The way insects are constructed doesn’t give them licence to overeat; having their skeletons on the outside means that if they do scoff too much they explode.  Not a pretty thought.” (Why Girls Can’t Throw, and other questions you’ve always wanted answered, Mitchell Symonds 2005)


This got me thinking about my fundraising expenditure budget – as I guess this is my ‘skeleton’.


In years where the economy has been kind to charities we have regularly expanded our budgets to do new and extra things to bring in income – certainly if I figured I could bring in more money than I was spending then I would do it.


But after reading the insect piece I am wondering if perhaps this year I really do need to stay within my ‘skeleton’ – do only the things we have planned in already and stay very carefully within my ‘skeleton’ budget.  It is certainly a question to ponder.


In this climate risk analysis of new and additional things needs very careful consideration, if we do anything that doesn’t bring in a good ROI then we will have wasted valuable staff time and resources.


Hence my current mantra is ‘focus on the money’ – my poor team are probably bored of hearing it.  But at the end of the day the only reason a fundraising team exists is to generate income to enable the charity to do the work it needs to do.


So I am not saying don’t do anything new per se – but if you do decide to push that ‘skeleton’ make sure you have done your risk analysis, test it, and focus on the money. 


I am certainly not going to be doing those things where in previous years I would have said, ‘well it won’t raise much money but will raise lots of awareness’.  No – this year is all about income generation.


So fundraisers


·         turn your pyramid upside down

·         consider staying within your ‘skeleton’


and remember every day to


  • ‘focus on the money’.


So have a good weekend, and I shall sign on once again next week with my next thoughts.


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