Di Flatt's Blog


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

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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



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.

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



Thought for the day – never deny yourself your need for inner fulfilment….

Di Flatt

Di Flatt

Good morning, hmmnnn well yes it is still morning just about. Have had a very lazy start to the day. Bronchitis still visiting, but definitely feeling a little better. However now have the most beautiful blood shot left eye !! Now this is either due to all the coughing or due to my leaving my contact lens in too long……

Well have just been picking up emails and have been told off by one of my friends re my lovely new bathmat. Apparently bath mats are not supposed to be receiving ‘royal treatment’ in fact her words were ‘for heaven’s sake, use the bath mat! That’s its destiny and you’re denying it a chance of inner fulfilment!’

So now I feel quite guilty, poor thing has been living here over a week and has just been moved from bath to sink, to floor (on thursday) back to the bath and sink manouevres (have I spelt that right ? My friend Paul will let me know, he is an excellent proof reader and a self proclaimed ‘I cannot help myself but point it out to you’ man. In fact he just sent me an email saying ‘sorry for pointing out mistakes’! But hey sometimes I type so fast I shall miss my own mistakes so Paul – keep on proofing, you can be my editor).

So I am about to go take quick shower before going shopping to buy new woolly hat to keep warm against this windy weather so am going to take a running jump (metaphorically speaking) and use the bathmat for its actual purpose – because how could I deny the poor (beautiful) thing it’s ‘chance of inner fulfilment’.

I guess that would be like denying me from being a fundraiser and blue sky thinker – I would be miserable. I can’t be having a miserable bath mat – she would soon stop being beautiful.

So thank you Sue for pointing that out. It is a lesson for us all – to not deny ourselves our inner fulfilment – we would only become less beautiful!

So bath mat get ready to be fulfilled. Bye for now, enjoy your saturday, 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



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 ?

CREDIT CRUNCH

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.

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



Di Flatt’s Blog …. day one of words…

Well this is Di Flatt, starting out on a new journey of words. Luckily I love words and so shall enjoy sharing them with you. For now let me share my current favourite string of words…… “duplicitous deceit deems definite disasters” …. something for everyone to consider every day. Honesty and transparency will always win the day – every time……. back soon Di x