The next big thing is human beings

retro_restroom_icons_01_ai10-1113vv-vToday I was reminded that there are only 47 days until Christmas.

Where has 2014 gone? It seems only a few weeks ago that the world and his dog were cooling down from the summer heat by throwing buckets of ice water over themselves. And now we are getting ready for Christmas, which has been made official (in the UK at least) with the launch of the John Lewis 2014 Christmas advert.

2015 is just two months away. The world is moving fast and it is speeding up. Technology is enabling things to happen that I didn’t think possible, like 3D printing for reconstructive brain surgery, real plans for intergalactic tourism and now any one of us can use online platforms and social networks to crowd fund pretty much anything – from Wi-Fi light bulbs to a full size origami canoe!

But the key thing that I have learned this year is that you can have the latest technology, the best widgets, the coolest app and even the most robust processes, strategies and plans, but if you don’t have the right people working together to achieve a shared vision then nothing happens.

Nothing happening is a very bad outcome for a charity because the reason a charity exists is to drive change. The point of charities is to make things happen.

The organisations that I’ve seen flourish this year are the ones who employ ambitious people with attitude. They are organisations with a clear vision and focus that spot and develop talent; departments work together to achieve shared objectives, teams support each other to test new ideas and drive change and individuals take responsibility to do the most they absolutely can regardless of resource. And in these organisations, leadership isn’t about the person that sits at the top, leadership is about any individual that chooses to do whatever they can to make things happen.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” John Quincy Adams

The next big thing in 2015 is not about new technology or the next widget. The next big thing is human beings connecting around a shared vision and supporting each other to create excellent environments for fundraising and driving change.

It sounds simple, but just because something sounds simple does not mean it is easy to achieve.

If you are looking for insights to connect the human beings in your organisation and drive your fundraising in 2015 and beyond, check out the Revolutionise Annual Lectures. With a line up of 18 insightful and inspirational speakers its like a TED talk for fundraising. Book your place here.




Let’s put the fear back in fundraising

IFC 2014 emerging leaders As fundraisers we know rationally that people make decisions based on emotions, but how often do we acknowledge when this happens to us?

Last week I had a moment of fear as I stood on stage at the International Fundraising Congress (IFC) and looked out into the audience.

I’m not sure why this fear came as a surprise as fear has driven much of my career. I have learned to use it in a positive way, as a sort of barometer. Essentially we are all deeply scared of failing, so the more we care about something, the more painful the thought failure becomes, so, my reasoning is if it feels scary then it’s probably worth doing.

I spoke about the need to develop emerging leaders and that in the quest to spot and develop talent we have to take some risks. I spoke specifically about my experience of employing people based on attitude over experience.

When you find someone who can light up a room with their passion, inspire the interview panel, and bravely show their vulnerability by accepting that they don’t know the answers but are not afraid of asking for help and working with others to find them. Your gut feeling is to give them the job.

Then we often get caught up in the form filling and tick box exercises required by the organisation. If this exceptional individual does not have all of the relevant experience required on the form their passion, enthusiasm and attitude counts for nothing.

I believe that, in the same way you learn reading, writing and arithmetic at school, you can also learn fundraising skills; you can learn to present a winning corporate pitch, to successfully ask a major donor for a gift or to produce an excellent direct mail pack. What I don’t think you can easily learn is attitude.

And that’s where the fear comes in. If feels safe to fill in a form about someone’s capabilities. It’s much harder to stick your neck out, and go against the ‘normal’ convention, trust your gut instinct and take a chance on someone who has attitude over experience.

The thing is that we are not in the safety business; we are in the change business and that involves a degree of risk.

Change is an over used word, it can feel clichéd, it gets used so much that it lacks meaning. But one thing that I have learned is that fear and change are close allies. If we are going to do the best jobs that we can to change the world, then we have to work with the fear that making change happen conjures up. We have to acknowledge our fear and use it in a positive way to drive us forward to achieve greater things.

I issued a challenge to the audience at IFC to change something today. It doesn’t matter if it is big or if it is small. Because the more we challenge ourselves to change, the more competent we become at confronting the fears that hold us back and the more chance we have of making a difference.

You can join us and be part of the future and pledge your change here. 

This blog was first published on 101fundraising. 

A brief guide to social media friendship etiquette

Sunday, May 15, 2011

When Tim Berners Lee invented the world-wide web in 1990 I don’t think he, or any of us could predict the huge changes it would make to the…

What is innovation anyway?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

As mentioned in my blog last week ‘What innovation isn’t” I think innovation is an overused term. According to Oxford Dictionaries online (does anyone own a dictionary anymore?…

What innovation isn’t

Monday, May 2, 2011

Innovation, in my opinion is an overused term. People often seem to bung innovation in a sentence if they want to make something sound good but are too…

Change is the natural state for the earth – it will never be finished

Sunday, April 24, 2011

On Friday I went to Down House, the former home of Charles Darwin. Down House is a stunning property with beautiful gardens and a museum of Darwin’s life….