Tag Archives: community

Creativity, Innovation and Quality of Life

Innovation is a buzzword topic. You can even do a Masters Degree in Innovation, Creativity and Leadership at City University in London. It has its own acronym; it is fondly referred to as the MICL.

This is great because they have free public lectures. Last week I went to listen to Professor Patrick Jordan talk about Creativity, Innovation and Quality of Life.

Quality of life is defined as the wellbeing of individuals and societies. There is an increasing emphasis on the importance of quality of life and wellbeing. The Office for National Statistics is now attempting to measure national wellbeing in the UK.

Jordan suggests that there are nine major factors that need to be taken into consideration when measuring quality of life in his 2010 paper, ‘The Good Society Framework’.

The nine factors are explained below with examples highlighting how innovation and creative thinking are helping individuals and communities improve their quality of life.

1. Relationships; the quality of our social,family and interpersonal relationships is the single most important factor in measuring quality of life or wellbeing. Research has shown that there is a loneliness epidemic in older men.  Men communicate best when bought together round a task. Men in Sheds is an innovative project responding to this by establishing a task based shed network providing a community of support and social interaction for men.

2. Economy; this refers to people’s degree of economic spending power and the extent that jobs develop and reward individuals. In tough times, with public trust in large banking corporations at rock bottom, there has been an opportunity for the development of peer-to-peer economics. Zopa provides opportunities for people with savings to lend. The lenders earn interest and the borrowers receive better rates than banks can offer. Regulated by the FSA, Zopa has half a million members who have to date lent more than £190 million.

3. Environment and infrastructure; this is about how pleasant, effective and efficient our environments are. Transport for London invested in an initiative to ensure public transport in London was accessible to people with disabilities. Yet, despite the improved access, people with disabilities were not using London trains and buses. In particular wheelchair users didn’t use buses. Transport for London worked with Jordan to establish why. He discovered primary reason wasn’t the physical barrier; it was because of the uncomfortable interaction with the driver and the public. Bus drivers are measured on punctuality, the additional time to help a wheelchair user on and off the bus meant their bus would arrive back at the depot late. Because of this they often didn’t stop for wheelchairs – or were stressed and rushed when they did. Making using the bus a bad experience best avoided. Therefore changing the time measure for drivers, rather than the physical environment may improve the bus experience for wheelchair users.

4. Health; in particular access to good healthcare and food. Jordan spoke of a hospital project in Korea. They turned their radiography ward into an entertainment centre. Patients could upload photos and listen to their own music in an attempt to take some of the trauma of sitting in a stark and unwelcoming ward by making the experience as comfortable as possible.

5. Peace and Security; this refers to levels of crime and if people feel safe in their homes and public spaces and whether or not society is affected by war or terrorism. Jordan spoke of initiatives to develop more effective ways to identify terrorist suspects. Currently terrorist suspects are single people in a public place, looking nervous, with a backpack, meeting another single nervous person. Anyone who has ever been on an internet date is a hot terrorism suspect based on current techniques.

6. Culture and leisure; this is about identifying if there is a rich and rewarding
culture and opportunities to participate in leisure activities.  GoodGym is an organisation that connects people who want to get fit, with physical tasks that need to be done and benefit the community. So rather than mindlessly pound a treadmill you can run to an elderly neighbours garden that needs digging. Great concept.

7. Spirituality; the choice to practice which religion you choose, access to spiritual and philosophical teachings. An example is the Meditator app for smart phone has been developed to enable more people to relax and experience the benefits of meditation.

8. Education; this places the importance on enriching educational opportunities the enable people to function effectively in society. An example of a project enabling better educational opportunities is the US Knowledge is Power Programme (KIPP). Based on the premise that levels of achievement are often inhibited by low expectations, KIPP uses the slogan ‘work hard be nice’ to build the confidence and expectations of students from undeserved communities that they will go to, and do well at college.

9. Governance; so whether there is democracy, fairness and freedom of expression. Social media has given the masses a voice and the ability to spread campaigning messages. There are many examples of groups coming together to have a voice or take action; from the organization of the riots in London last summer to the uprising in Egypt last January.

Jordan’s final point was that using innovation and creativity to create a better quality of life was for all. Not for the few that can afford it – but for everybody.

How can we better engage our creative and innovative skills to improve our individual and community wellbeing? What do you think?

PS. You can find out more about MICL at a free open day conference in London on 11 June.

Same challenges different time zone

Last week fundraisers from across Queensland gathered on the Australian Gold Coast for the Fundraising Institute Australia Dare to be Different conference.

Many people asked me what I thought the differences were between fundraising in the UK and Australia. I struggled to come up with many apart from the difference in population size (Australia approx 22 million and UK approx 61 million). My observations are that there are more similarities than differences….

  • People give to people. Fundraising is about building relationships and connecting donors to the cause and showing them the difference they can make in the world. As Kay Sprinkel Grace observed in the opening plenary, fundraisers across the world are brokers of dreams.
  • A tough economic environment poses challenges for fundraisers the world over. Fundraisers must find a balance between focusing on activities that will bring in the highest rewards as well as identifying future trends and developing creative solutions as Tony Elischer demonstrated in his sessions.
  • Recruiting new donors is hard and recruiting the right donors is harder.  Adrian Sargeant stressed that ‘it’s better to spend more bringing in people who are right then have better response rates from people who will never give again’, and helped us understand how to identify and attract the right donors.
  • Keeping new donors is even harder. In the UK 50% of new donors are lost in the first year. Then 30% are lost year on year. In the USA 75% never come back. Organisations must build trust and loyalty and develop long-term donor relationships.
  • As a sector we are very open to sharing and learning from each other. Christiana Stergiou and I took the audience through as many fundraising examples from www.sofii.org as we could in an hour and encouraged fundraisers to use this excellent free resource as well as  helping others by submitting their own exhibits.
  • At Dare to be Different it was refreshing to learn from what had not gone so well with an open and impressive session from Marcus Blease from Cerebral Palsy Alliance,  Trudi Mitchell from Cancer Council NSW and Paul Tavatgis from Cornucopia Fundraising. As a sector we could learn so very much more if we were more open about what did not go so well.
  • Storytelling is the new buzzword. Human beings are hardwired to learn through storytelling . Anthropologists contend that 70% of our learning is through narrative. So it’s no surprise that it’s a skill that fundraisers want to perfect.
  • We love jargon. The usual suspects kept cropping up and the top three terms were supporter journey, touchpoints and integrated campaigns as well as some new acronyms that I have never heard before.
  • The general public has a perception of how charities should operate. Many make decision to donate to a cause based on the % of their donation that will go to services and do not like to think that their donation is ‘wasted’ on administration or staff costs. Dan Pallotta made a case for transparency and the importance of investing in order to effectively fundraise and the importance of communicating the real cost of raising funds to donors, supporters and the public.
  • Fundraising is not always perceived well outside of the sector. Asking for bequests was picked up by the tabloid press, quick to paint a negative picture of the sensitive topic of how fundraisers ask people to consider leaving a gift in their will, which could make a lasting difference to the world.
  • The world is small. I met several of ex-colleagues from the UK and from the NSPCC as well as Twitter friends. I liked how the world got smaller.

So that’s the top line. But for me the most important thing I came away with was inspiration from meeting a collective of passionate people doing great work for a range of causes with a restless energy to do more. I’m proud to have the opportunity to work with you. And not forgetting, that in addition to your great work, you all know how to party.

Plan your story

I’m a bit of a fan of the work of Plan, ever since I used a Plan funded toilet when I was in Ethiopia.

Plan UK work with children in the world’s poorest countries to help them build a better future. The majority of Plan’s voluntary income is from child sponsorship, I was amazed to discover that donors can go and visit the children and communities that they help and are encouraged to share their stories. From the Bramelds in Ghana to Cathy’s trip to Zimbabwe Plan are doing a great job of connecting people just like you and me to the cause by demonstrating the difference that sponsoring a child can make, not just to that individual child but to the whole community.

With so much reliance on income from one fundraising stream, it seems that Plan are looking to diversify. Their newest campaign is called “Plan your story”. It is an online video application that takes your key information from Facebook to create a personal story of your life and how it may have been impacted if you did not have a birth certificate. It aims to put you in the shoes of the millions of girls around the world whose births are not registered, for example you are asked to consider being married at the age of 14; as an inability to prove your age could result in being married off whilst a child. It is part of Plan UK’s Because I am a Girl campaign and aims to test Facebook as a platform for raising money, gain insights on what works and what doesn’t –from an online fundraising perspective and gain a greater understanding of Plans’ online audience.

So I gave it a go. I was uncomfortable with giving an application access to my information on Facebook, especially with all the media coverage about privacy. I still am anxious about it, but decided to do it anyway as I was curious to see my story.

While I waited for my story to load, there is a counter on the screen that showed me the number of people born without birth certificates while I was waiting. Nice touch.

Then accompanied by emotional music, I saw my story unfold. Using my images and information on Facebook, I was asked to remember what it was like being at school, studying for exams; exams that many girls are excluded from taking, the exams that change a path in your life. I was reminded of the friends I made and not forgetting the time I got a detention for chewing gum. I loved the page in the book that showed an album of my friends profile pictures. However when asked to picture what life would have been like without certain people, selected at random from my friends list, it didn’t work for me as they were people I do not know very well, so their non-existence would not have made an impact at all. If there is a way of selecting more active friends, that would have worked, or perhaps it’s a lesson for me to take my own advice and reconsider the friends I have on Facebook. 

One page reminded me that some people are not able to express opinions; they don’t have a voice, and then linked to my latest status updates. Great idea although somewhat ashamedly my latest update was,

‘There is a prawn at the bottom of the escalator at Angel. Think he is too small to hop on. Hope he is ok.’

It talks about your first crush; how did they know about my crush on George Michael in 1987? and asks you to imagine, at that point in your life what it would have been like to have had no choice but to marry a stranger more than twice your age or older, like thousands of 14 year olds without a birth certificate are forced to do.

I really like Plan your story and whilst there is room for improvement, its leading the way in showing how Facebook can be used to help donors feel a personal and emotional connection to the cause, which is what fundraising is all about.

I felt quite moved by this application (prawn aside), it did make me consider the life choices that I have been lucky to have. It made an emotional connection as well as providing solid facts and figures and there is a clear ask for a donation. Did I make one? Of course. I want to know how you are going to steward me….

The app is streamed in real-time so I can’t link you to mine, but you can try for yourself here or check out this sample. I would love to know what do you think?

I love infographics

I love infographics. I love infographics so much that I’ve written a blog about them.

An infographic is short for ‘information graphic’ and is a visual representation of information data or knowledge. They are the perfect tool for presenting complex information quickly and clearly.

How much information do you receive on your average day? For most of us it’s more that our brains can process. As we become increasingly connected through use of mobile and online technology our attention spans are becoming shorter as we try to process increasing amounts of information. As we flit from task pretending ‘multi-task’, the ability to filter information is becoming more and more important.

So the task for anyone getting their message to stand out amongst all the background noise is becoming harder than ever. I think infographics are a good way to grab attention and they tend to be shared widely via digital media. This blog by Mick Dee provides some good examples of how infographics work and some tips for developing your own.

So given what a great tool an infographic is for expressing complex issues in a compelling way and demonstrating impact, I am surprised that more charities are not using them. Infographics can showcase a charities expertise, demonstrate their view in a wider political and social environment or could be a way to thank donors or keep them up to date on progress. They provide visual clues on the cause and can bring a sense of fun where appropriate.

Howard Lake has been collating examples of fundraising infographics here. My favourites include;

Leeds University’s Alumni & Development Team have presented the results of their matched giving campaign in infographic form as a thank you to the donors who gave. It will appear on the back cover of the next donor newsletter. Brilliant.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have some interesting infographics, including an interactive one on it’s campaign to end malaria.

Charity water and eNonprofit Benchmarks Survey are both making good use of infographics to communicate their messages. Click on the links on the images to see in more detail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So next time you have a message to get across to donors, supporters, volunteers, staff or the general public, bin the lengthy word document or email, and think if using an infographic will work harder in cutting through the background noise to enable you to get the results that you want.

Will you donate just £1 for my birthday?

So its my birthday, I’m another year older. 38. How has this happened? Seems like only yesterday I was hanging out at Virginia Water Lakes with Stan Gower in my knee socks and sandals.

My priorities have changed a bit over the years. These days I’m a marketers dream; anything that says anti gravity or anti ageing or age defying and I’m there.  Can’t get enough.

This birthday I have to admit that I have been very impressed with the direct marketing I have received. Lots of organisations are helping me celebrate. Facebook Causes are onto me and even Next are offering me £5 off my ‘birthday’ order. This is a big improvement from the birthday direct mail I used to get a few years ago.

From about 1997-2003 I used to get mail from one of those companies that take free ‘glamour’ shots of you in Vaseline edged lenses and then charge you hundreds of pounds for the prints. I think they were featured on Watchdog once.  Every year the letter started, Dear *Harriet, Have you ever wanted to look really beautiful like the models in the magazines…? one year the letter made me cry real tears.

So my point? I’m getting to it. I treat my birthday like many people treat New Year, as an opportunity to reflect on what has happened in the last 12 months and hatch fresh plans for the future.

So this year I have been thinking about who has inspired me. Who has made an impact on my life. One such person is Simon Berry.

Simon and his partner Jane are the inspiration behind Colalife, a charity that hopes to be able to use Cokes distribution networks to get vital medicines out to rural areas in Africa in order to save lives. Simon and Jane have given up their day jobs and are about to move to Africa to get the Zambia Colalife pilot up and running. Awesome.

So, if you were thinking of buying me a birthday present, and actually even if you weren’t, please can you help Simon and Jane help children who are dying in Africa because they don’t have access to basic medicines that you and I take for granted.

Please sponsor the Colalife cyclists Nigel and Bill who are cycling 400 kilometres across Normandy to raise a target of £6,000  to save lives. So help them out.  You can sponsor them here. 

Just £1 will fill an AidPod with simple medicines to help a mother in rural Zambia rehydrate her child and save her child’s life (there are only 70 retail pharmacies in the whole of Zambia – and public clinics can be a 20 kilometre walk from home).

You can also tell your friends on Facebook and Twitter and perhaps some of them will donate £1 too. Or maybe more…….

So together we can help save lives. We don’t need to look beautiful like the models in the magazines. We just need to make a difference. Right now.

That’s all.

*yes according to my passport Harriet is my first name.

A story of fish and focus

Imagine the scene, a small Mediterranean island, miles of beautiful beaches, warm sunshine, fragrant olive groves and a scattering of tavernas serving local, fresh food and wine.

A businessman on holiday strolls along the port and is fascinated by a fishermen hauling in his catch.

Noting the quality of the fish, the businessman asked the fisherman how long it had taken to catch them.
 “Not very long.” answered the fisherman.

“Then, why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?” asked the businessman.

The fisherman explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family.
 The businessman asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”
 “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, have a nap in the afternoon under a palm tree. In the evenings, I see my friends and family, have a few beers, play the drums, and sing a few songs….. I have a full and happy life.” replied the fisherman.

The businessman ventured, “I can help you…… If you fished longer every day, you could sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you could buy a bigger boat. With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you could buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have a large fleet. Instead of selling your fish to a middleman, you could negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You could then leave this little island and move to a city, from where you could direct your huge enterprise.”

“How long would that take?” asked the fisherman.

“Oh, ten, maybe twenty years.” replied the businessman.

“And after that?” asked the fisherman.

“After that? “When your business gets really big,’ replied the businessman “you can start selling shares in your company and make millions!”

“Millions? Really? And after that?” pressed the fisherman.

“After that you’ll be able to retire, move out to a small island, sleep in late every day, spend time with your friends and family, go fishing, take afternoon naps under a palm tree……”

I love this story. Sometimes, on the treadmill of daily life its easy to lose sight of the important stuff. The stuff that doesn’t really matter like the latest Apple gadget, expensive fashions, a bigger house or a bigger boat.

Are you swept along by what you think others think and expect of you? Or are you doing what you are passionate about and enjoy? Take a deep breath and think about what is important. Now focus on achieving that.

If you like this you might also like

Fish! – Stephen C. Lundin, Harry Paul, John Christensen, Ken Blanchard

The Fred Factor – Mark Sanborn

The Element – Sir Ken Robinson

The Four Hour Working Week – Tim Ferris 

Great customer service – It’s not that hard is it?

Every single day someone gives me an appalling customer service experience.  Take your pick from HSBC not calling me back, laissez-faire waiters, queuing for hours in Southern Electrics multiple level phone holding pattern, the general shoddiness of the London Underground ‘service’, the man from SKY drilling into the neighbours lounge instead of outside, the receptionist at the Doctors with a ferocious face that could make children cry, miserable indifference from people working in a customer facing role, Elephant family never called me back and don’t even get me started on the Ramada Jarvis in Leeds – that deserves a whole blog to itself.

So when I get brilliant customer service, not just once but consistently I have to share it because it is a precious gem. A gift. A miracle.

My local coffee shop is wonderful. Let me tell you why.

  1. Their coffee is delicious – they have a great product
  2. Everyone that works there smiles and makes you feel welcome
  3. Everyone engages you in conversation (good conversation, not the forced conversation that you get at the checkout in Sainsburys because the cashier has attended Sainsburys ‘having small talk with customers’ training day – Sainsburys I like what you are trying to do but you haven’t cracked it yet)
  4. Everyone remembers you and refers back to previous conversations
  5. They do this consistently. Every day.
  6. They do this with all their customers
  7. They actually seem to be enjoying themselves

They also go out of their way for their customers; last week I went to get coffee and on my way I made a quick phone call as I walked down the street. The call lasted longer than I anticipated and I ended up pacing up and down in front of the shop for a few minutes while I chatted. After a couple of minutes one of the staff appeared in the doorway of the shop with a soya latte (they knew my coffee) and then wouldn’t let me pay for it. That was a priceless gesture.

Sometimes they give me a free coffee, and sometimes a complimentary bun if I’m looking particularly hungry. Once they ran out of soya milk so went to get some especially for me.

Going to Reason to Eat is a pleasure. It makes my day. I get great coffee, a meaningful conversation and I feel part of a local community. I always leave there smiling.

Great customer service – It’s not that hard is it?

  1. Recruit the right people for customer facing roles – people who like people
  2. Pay them well – they are representing the company. They are important.
  3. Give them the tools and training they need to do the best job they can
  4. Listen to them – they are talking to your customers every day

I now recommend Reason to Eat to everyone that I know – and also people I don’t know because it’s a joy to be their customer.

Do you think your customers and donors feel that it’s a joy to work with you and your organisation? If the answers no – then please put it right soon.

If you are interested in being the best you can at your job or in your industry you might be interested in reading

The Fred Factor

Fish

Linchpin

Are you tweeting strategically?

A few years ago that would be a totally nonsensical question, yesterday I attended a seminar in a packed room of organisations all striving to use social media to its best effect. Do you twit or tweet? I still don’t know but one thing is clear – social media offers a lot of opportunities, the way we communicate is changing quickly and you’ve got to be in it to win it.

Did you know that Facebook has been active for 6 years and has over 400 million users. Incredible. It’s a surprise that we are still able to talk. Maybe that’s something that evolution will sort out.

Some organisations are making better use of the power of social media than others. We heard about how Breast Cancer Care is listening to its supporters, developing user driven content, providing individual responses to web queries, being more transparent and providing content to other websites to get key messages to the right audience.

Organisations cannot control the information that is posted on various web forums and we need to accept that this creates an element of risk. Ten years ago I would have written a complaint letter.  Today I’ll post my complaint here, on twitter and Facebook and suddenly it has the capacity to spread like wildfire. Have you seen the best complaint letter in the world ever to Virgin? That email went viral – it would not have had the same impact if it had been sent in the post. (It might not have arrived for starters).

Vodafone recently had a Twitter incident with a member of staff tweeting somewhat inappropriately; as did Paperchase when they were accused of ripping off independent designers. Organisations need to be tapped into unofficial online communities and look at this as an opportunity to develop conversations, gain insights, respond to complaints quickly and turn complainers into fans.

Social media is about people having conversations online. It’s about listening to your donors, customer, supporters and the people who don’t support you in a way that you have never been able to do before.

You have to be in it to win it – so have a go. One thing is certain, if you are not plugged into social media you wont be able to access any of the opportunities that it offers.

Approach life and death from a different perspective

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