I love the coverage generated by Ken Burnett's comments at the Institute of Fundraising Conference about how we should be generating more complaints!
The point is not, of course, to generate complaints for the sake of it. The point is that our marketing, campaigning and fundraising messages need to be sufficiently challenging, compelling and, when appropriate, hard-hitting to attract the attention of the people they're aimed at! And more often than not they aren't. Check out a few of the masterclasses on the SOFII website and you'll see that the seminal campaigns did not usually mince their words.
Last week, I came across an interesting article written by Suzanne Lucas on the BNET site entitled "9 signs your HR manager is terrible". In a nutshell, it's about how a commercial HR function doesn't always help the business achieve it's goals.
If you take a look you will immediately notice that it's fairly commercial and yes, a little USA-centric but there's a lot here other sectors and cultures can learn from. I'm no HR expert but like many, I've led and managed plenty of people and worked in lots of teams across commercial and non-profit sectors.
Consequently, the article got me to thinking about how some of the organisations I've been exposed to over the last 20 years have maybe missed the 'people' point. Here's my top five tangible things we don't always seem to do to focus on our people as the best way of helping us to meet our bottom line objectives, whatever they are. (Incidentally, by "HR", I mean the people in your organisation who are responsible for HR-type tasks - I know we don't all have a dedicated HR department)
It transpires that The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO - the team that polices the Data Protection Act) has been granted new powers to fine organisations for ‘making unwanted contact with the public’.
This could be huge news for all organisations that run individual marketing or fundraising campaigns for four reasons:
In a blog for the Harvard Business Review, Professor John Kotter suggested that business people, in order to accept the need for change, sometimes need to "feel the need for the change" as well as understand it financially and intellectually.
I think there’s an alternative view here and that’s about acknowledging that the approach Professor Kotter suggests is pretty much what any successful charity does to build its campaigning, communications and fundraising success.
The Sunday Times this week published its list of the top 100 third sector places to work, 76 of which were charities. Whilst the authors wouldn't pretend that the findings are representative of every single charity in the UK, they might help us (I am a Trustee too) as a collective of leaders to think about the factors which make our organisations positive places to work. It seems that there are still significant differences between the commercial and not for profit sectors in terms of what motivates people to work there (no kidding) so I recommend we start focusing on these:
Charity staff value highly the opportunity to give something back. Perhaps we can make the results of their contributions more specific and more obvious? I'm thinking internal communications, appraisals and reviews... simple and sincere thanks?
The vast majority believe their organisation makes a positive difference to the world - surely something that we should reinforce with evidence and beneficiary stories wherever relevant to ensure staff stay engaged with the cause.
Following the most recent London NFPTweetup meeting of charity social media users, I was interested to read a thought-provoking and increasingly commented upon blog from @SamRSparrow (aka Samantha Sparrow) about 'slacktivism'. For those of you new to this term, and according to Wikipedia;
the word slacktivism is usually considered a pejorative term that describes "feel-good" measures, in support of an issue or social cause, that have little or no practical effect other than to make the person doing it feel satisfaction. The acts tend to require minimal personal effort from the slacktivist. Examples of activities labeled as "slacktivist" include signing internet petitions, the wearing of awareness ribbons or awareness bracelets with political messages, putting a ribbon magnet on a vehicle, writing blogs or statuses about issues on social networking sites, joining a Facebook group, posting issue-oriented YouTube videos, or altering one's personal data or avatar on social network services
This suggests to me that being a 'slacktivist' is considered a bad thing by at least the authors of the definition, who, are the truly engaged and spend their time moving heaven and earth to change the world. You do indeed do a great job but please get over yourselves.
Samantha's blog suggests that being a slacktivist might not be such a bad thing and that many people are involved with charities at this level. And I couldn't agree more. Millions of pounds have been raised by people wearing charity bracelets. Hundreds of millions have been raised through slacktivists supporting initiatives like Comic Relief, Children in Need and DEC Appeals. I don't see anything pejorative about that.
Read more at the Bottom Line Ideas Blog............
For the second time in a year, we've seen the Institute of Fundraising's Innovation panel report that an idea borne out of the financial services sector might be a go'er, but perhaps not. A score of three out of five for an initiative that helps fund good causes via activity that investors are undertaking anyway, and that costs the charity a small amount (£250) relative to the donations potential, seems strange.