Are you killing polar bears?

Polar bear mother (Ursus maritimus) and twin cubs of the year hunting on the pack ice, Svalbard Archipelago, Arctic NorwayA while ago I was looking after my god-daughter for the weekend. I was helping her clean her teeth before bed. I helped her to get the toothpaste on the brush and I turned on the tap so that when she was ready she could rinse the toothpaste away.

She told me off for leaving the tap running before she needed it. I was told off because if I left the tap running,


Wow – I was impressed at the big picture thinking and ashamed to be contributing to the early demise of the polar bears.

It made me consider how good (or bad) we are at explaining the difference our donors make in plain and simple language. How many donors understand the difference their donation, volunteering time, campaign action or adjustments to daily life, like turning off taps, makes?

Connecting yourself, your team, your whole organisation and your donors with the difference you all make is key to successful fundraising. And this applies whether they are eight or 80, after all the future of our world is in the hands of the philanthropists, business drivers and change makers of tomorrow.

The recent proud to be a fundraiser campaign from the Institute of Fundraising, highlights the importance of and gives practical tips on how to ensure that you inspire your donors about the difference they make. If you are an IoF member, you can download the Proud to be a fundraiser toolkit for free here.




Innovation puts charities out of business

hand drawing light bulb

Intrigued by how the sectors approach to innovation has changed over the last few years and keen to understand what innovation is working and what is not, Zoe Amar and I asked you to share your experiences and attitudes towards innovation.

Your views and examples of innovation form the basis of the charity innovation report 2014 that we launched earlier this month.  You can download it here. (It’s free!)

You told us that you are quite innovative already, and planning on becoming more so by:

  • Trying new things and not fearing failure
  • Being creative with limited resource
  • Doing things differently
  • Using innovation as a strategic business tool

You also said you need to be innovative to survive, as without innovation there was a danger of missing out on funding opportunities and failing to develop new and better services.

Shouldn’t the opposite be true?

Shouldn’t the application of innovation, rather than a lack of innovation put charities out of business?

Charities are set up to solve urgent and important problems. If innovation helps charities to raise more money in order to invest in and develop new services, then innovation brings the charity nearer to solving the problem that it was set up to solve.

So the ultimate reason to develop innovation skills and capabilities is not to survive but to put yourself out of business.

What do you think? Tweeting me @lucyinnovation with the hashtag #charityinnovate2014

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