The charity team building day – reality or urban myth?
Over the last few weeks I have heard a story several times that makes my heart sink. Before I start a rant on the topic, I want to check whether it is indeed a truth, something that happens frequently, or a one-off that has become an urban fundraising myth.
The story goes like this; on a dark and stormy night a local business gets in touch with their local charity because they want to help them; they want to make a difference in their community. They don’t have a budget for charitable donations, but they would like to help by volunteering their time. They have an idea of how they could do this. They suggest that they could paint a building or do some gardening and that would also give them the opportunity to work together as a team. They ask the charity if this would be possible.
The charity welcomes this enquiry and is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with this local company. They are delighted that the company thought to ask them.
However, there is a slight problem that there isn’t any painting that really needs doing, or any gardens that need attention. Rather than turn down an opportunity, or investigate whether there is something else that could be mutually beneficial, the charity creates painting and gardening opportunities, because there is an outside chance that this will lead to more support from the company in the future.
The highly skilled accountants, project managers, communications and marketing experts turn up on their allocated volunteering day to paint a shed that, unbeknown to them, doesn’t need painting and plant some shrubs and trees that don’t need planting.
Let’s assume that they had a good day, they built some rapport in their team, got to know each other better, felt good because they did something for the community and slapped each other on the back for their good work in the pub on the way home.
We hope they did have a good day, because the standard of painting work was so appalling, that the charity had to employ professional decorators to clear up the mess and a trained gardener to revive the shrubs and trees.
It’s not a surprising result, given that the teams skills are not painting and decorating, they are in strategic communications, accountancy and managing complex projects. Skills that the charity might have been able to deploy to greater effect if only they had been bold enough to ask.
Does this happen or is it an urban myth? Please comment below, or drop me a line.