Tag Archives: connectedness

The Dragonfly Effect – its all wings and analogies

The Dragonfly Effect is a book by Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith about ways to use social media to drive social change.

They use the analogy of the wings of a dragonfly as the four essential ingredients in any social media campaign.

It breaks down how to ‘do’ social media to drive change into four ‘wings’.

Wing one; is about focusing focus on a single concrete measurable goal or outcome and then breaking it down into small manageable actions or chunks.

Wing two; is how to grab attention and get noticed amongst all the other noise that we are all bombarded with.

Wing three; is about engaging your audience emotionally through telling stories and making a personal connection.

Wing four; is about how to make it easy for your audience to take action and enable others and the importance of providing fast feedback.

There are some interesting case studies, and they give tips for beginners on using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and building networks. However, I was disappointed with the overall content as it was repetitive and cluttered and I found the number of dragonfly and wing analogies a bit irritating. (The dragonfly analogy is apparently because the dragonfly is the only insect to move in any direction when its four wings are working in concert)

However they make some good basic points, which apply to any activity designed to drive change, that of

  • Focusing on the end goal
  • Grabbing audience attention
  • Engaging with the audience
  • A clear and simple call for action

So my advice is, if you are planning to use social media (or drive any sort of change) to take these principles and get on with testing out your campaigns and messages rather than spending time reading the book.

I’d love to hear about what you are doing and what is working and not working for you on social media right now….

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.

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.

Gotta Share

There is no doubt that social media enables us all to share what we are doing, thinking and feeling like never before. There are great opportunities for organisations to tap into the insights and conversations that customers and potential customers are sharing online.

As highlighted in previous posts, I’m trying to make sense of the world of social media, hoping to navigate through it and establish some common etiquette. Recently I was out with two friends who seemed to spend a lot of time updating various statuses that they were out in a bar having dinner and drinking wine. I felt a bit bemused at all the time spent frantically texting, tagging and updating that detracted from the real life chat we were having.

It made me wonder if we are spending too much time ‘sharing’ at the expense of real life experiences.

Often we know what our friends are up to because their status tells us; on the one hand this is a great way of being connected, on the other if you spend your real life time updating that you are “Having a great time with blah at ‘name drop’ cool place” then I’m not so sure its such a great idea.

I would like to question people’s motivation for sharing; is it a competition as to who can be tagged in the coolest places with the sexiest people? Or is it about proving your wit and intelligence? Or is it for a sympathy vote and attention? Or is it a combination of all of the above? Who are your status updates for? Yourself? Your friends? Your enemies?

If you are in real life having a real life experience, does posting something to tell everyone detract from that experience or does it enhance it?

Personally, my view is if you are having a conversation in real life, unless it’s a life or death situation I think it’s rude to be on your phone updating, surfing the net or whatever. Your focus should be on the present.

I found this brilliant piece on YouTube which to some extent sums it up.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m on Facebook and I love Twitter – a lot. I learn lots, ask for help and information and in turn hope that I provide useful tweets to the people who follow me.

My point is that sharing the moment on social media should not be at the expense of experiencing and sharing a real life moment.

I’d be interested to know what you think….

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 

Are you an Eater or a Baker? The Art of Enchantment

For me the word ‘enchantment’ conjures up images of scenes straight out of a fairy tale; beautiful princesses, handsome princes, mysterious breadcrumb trails, charmed forests and magic spells.

Guy Kawasakis latest book ‘Enchantment’ explains all the tactics you need to enchant in real life.

‘Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale’ Hans Christian Andersen

Guy defines enchantment as the process of delighting people with a product, service, organisation or idea. Enchantment is also about inspiring action and changing hearts and minds. Guys’ theory is that if we enchant, we will be more successful at ‘getting things done’ and as a result we can make more of a difference.

So to me enchantment sounds like it could be another word for fundraising.

Enchantment is a quick read and a checklist full of practical tips and stories that will help you to become an enchanter; from realising your passions and goals, use of positive language, building rapport, telling stories, tactics to nudge people to choose a preferred solution, overcoming fear and resistance, practicing your genuine smile and a formula for the perfect handshake (yes a formula!).

Key to the philosophy of Enchantment is building relationships and always considering, in any interaction, how you can help others. I love Guy’s analogy that people fall into two camps; you are either an eater or a baker.

  • Eaters want a bigger slice of an existing pie.
  • Bakers want to make a bigger pie.
  • Eaters think that if they win, you lose, and if you win, they lose.
  • Bakers think that everyone can win with a bigger pie.
  • True enchanters are bakers

Twitter, where anyone can provide news and updates and Google making advertising accessible to small businesses are examples of organisations with a bigger pie philosophy.

So team, are you an eater or a baker? I dare you to take some action, get baking, and make your life, and the lives of others more enchanting.

If you like the sound of enchantment you may also like the following;

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard – Chip and Dan

Heath Delivering Happiness – Tony Hsieh

Nudge – Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness Richard H Thaler, Cass R Sunstein

Whoever Tells The Best Story Wins - Annette Simmons

The Book of Awesome - Neil Pasricha

Confessions of a Public Speaker - Scott Berkun

 

What is innovation anyway?

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? – there’s innovation for you)

‘Innovation is ‘the action or process of innovating a new idea, method or product’

I don’t think that’s is particularly helpful in explaining innovation so I’ve attempted to put a list together to help make more sense of innovation.

Innovation is

1. A series of previously unconnected connections put together in new ways.

2. Survival. If organisations do not adapt to changing markets and customer needs they will die. Innovation is essential in order to survive.

3. Either incremental, so small changes or efficiencies to a current process or product, for example improving your data capture to ensure that you get donor details right, developing a really great newsletter… the list is endless

4. Or a radical or step change that alters things as they are, for example MP3 players changing the music market, Botton Village giving donors choices or the invention of the world wide web

5. Lead from the top. Leaders must walk the walk for innovation to succeed in a business. It needs to be part of the culture and part of everyone’s job.

6. All about you, your unique experiences and thoughts that create new ideas that are put into action. All humans have the capability to create and innovate. You just got to find your Element.

7. About gathering insight from everywhere you can in order to spot new opportunities to develop products and services. Look outside of what you know for fresh insights.

8. Working in collaboration, sharing, listening, building on each others ideas. (no group hugs)

9. Fun. Forget the pressures of everyday life and chill the hell out. That’s when you will have your best thoughts.

10. About having a go, taking action, driving change and convincing people to give the new idea a try.

11.  Failure. Innovation and failure are best mates. Fact. Their other friend is risk. If you take a risk to try something new, you may fail. The most important part is what you learn in order that you can return and succeed.

“If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.” Sir Ken Robinson 

12. Having attitude and belief that you are going to find a way to succeed no matter what.

13. Focusing on where you will make the most difference. You can’t innovate about absolutely everything so focus on the areas that are going to make the most impact.

14. Being brave. Standing out from the crowd. To trailblaze. To lead the way.

15. About breaking patterns. Humans are creatures of habit, it’s much easier to sit it out in your comfort zone where there is little risk of failure (see point 11). To innovate you need to break your ‘normal’ patterns of thought to develop something new.

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Albert Einstein

16. Being curious about the world. Asking why more.

17. A robust process combined with gut feel. Some famous innovations were designed for something entirely different. Viagra was originally developed for high blood pressure with interesting side effects….

18. Exciting. Coming up with new ideas is super exciting. Isn’t it?

19. Lasting success. An innovation strategy should balance incremental changes with longer-term objectives to survive in the long-term.

20. About making a difference. That’s why I do it.

What else is innovation? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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

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.

Apparently Darwin wrote The Origin of the Species here; his controversial masterpiece introducing his theory of evolution rather than the perceived wisdom of the time of divine creation, i.e. that life is designed by some divine power.

“Change is the natural state for the earth – it will never be finished.” Darwin

Darwin did not conceive his theory of evolution by natural selection in a vacuum. He was a collector of ideas, things and theories. He considered and developed his thoughts over a period of time, many of which were inspired and consolidated by his findings on his epic voyage of discovery aboard The H.M.S Beagle’.

Some ideas that fed Darwin’s imagination included;

  • Economic theories of supply and demand
  • The theory that scarcity led to competition between individuals for survival and that war disease and famine prevent over population.
  • Calculations by a number of scholars that the earth was indeed very old. In the 1600s Bishop James Usser calculated from the Bible that the earth was created on 24 October 4004 BC. (Love the specific date of 24 October!)
  • Fossils being proof that other species formerly existed and that they must have either died out or changed significantly.

The Origin of the Species was published 1859, the result of two decades of careful and cautious thought. Darwin delayed making his theory public for nearly 20 years. He knew that his view that life was not designed by a divine power would be controversial. Darwin wanted to have clear thoughts on how to counter arguments and he spent time evidencing his theory in a number of ways.

For example he investigated how plants spread from place to place. He immersed seeds in salt water for long periods to see if they could last the time it took to travel across the ocean and still germinate. He also sought opinions from a range of academic and professional disciplines.

As Darwin predicted, many were passionately opposed to the concept of evolution of the species. Including Emma, his wife who was deeply concerned by Darwin’s lack of religious faith.

My particular favourite opposition to the theory of evolution is based on the watchmaker argument. The watchmaker argument is that if you found something as complex as a watch lying on a path you would assume that someone had designed it. Therefore complex living things must have been designed. Brilliant.

I would place Darwin in the innovators of all time category for several reasons.

1. He had a sense of natural curiosity and bravely asked “why?”  – to challenge fundamental beliefs on creation itself.

2. He was a collector of things, theories and ideas. He wasn’t a lone genius, it was the combination of these ideas that inspired his first thoughts of the theory of evolution.

3. He was brave, even though it took him 20 years to share his thoughts and findings.

4. He was inspired by Rev John Stevens Henslow (1796-1861) who was a professor of Botany at Cambridge. Henslow advised his students to go out and ‘observe for themselves’.

5. He found a subject for which he had a passion and natural aptitude.

6. He remained focussed and continued to experiment to prove his theories after Origin of the Species was published.

Darwin described life as a constant struggle for survival. More creatures are born than the worlds resources can sustain. Any individual with an advantage over its fellows would be more likely to endure long enough to reproduce and pass on advantages to the next generation. Brutally described; those who did not adapt to circumstance will perish. Life is survival of the fittest.

So if we apply Darwin’s theory to business evolution.  Business is then also survival of the fittest. Those companies that cannot adapt to circumstance will perish. That’s why if companies are going to be successful, and survive they have to be innovative. They must be able to change to be better than their competitors and adapt to the needs of the customer and the marketplace environment in which they live.

Ask yourself – Are you adapting to survive in your environment?

If you are interested in this you may also like

Origin of the Species – Charles Darwin

The Element – Sir Ken Robinson

Where Do Good Ideas Come From – Steven Johnson 

If you are alive and breathing there is still time

On Sunday 13 March I went to a School of Life Sunday Sermon. If singing Eye of the Tiger at 11 o clock on a Sunday morning with a hall full of strangers wasn’t enough, I also got to listen to Sir Ken Robinson talk about passion.

Ken asked us to think about the sequences of past incidents – and people who have had to meet in order for us to be here on this planet. To be born at all is a miracle – so, asks Ken, “what are you going to do with your life?”

Ken Robinson believes that everyone is born with extraordinary capability. The tragedy is that most people have no idea of what they are capable of so therefore don’t think they are capable of doing anything. As a result many people spend their entire lives doing things they don’t care for, plodding along at a life that they have merely a general tolerance for.

It all begins at school. The education system is linear, in that if you are not good at a core subject, for example maths you are thought to not be good generally. Innovation and creativity are stifled and teachers struggle to promote creativity, as they are uncertain of their own creative abilities.

Human beings are imaginative, as Ken puts it “it comes with the kit” Humans are always investigating something new, we are inherently curious about the world.

According to Ken, the secret of a fulfilled life is to find that something that you have passion for as well as a natural talent for. Simply being good at something isn’t a good enough reason to do it – you have to have passion too.

“The problem human beings face is not that we aim too high and fail, but that we aim to low and succeed.” Michelangelo

Ken delighted us with stories from his book ‘The Element’ of people who have found their talent and their passion and made a leap of faith to ensure that they do live a life they love.

Ken urges us all to get inspired to follow our dreams and find our personal passion to live our life. So what you going to do? Answers please.

If you are interested in this post, you may also like to read the following books.

The Element – Ken Robinson

Now Discover your Strengths – Marcus Buckingham

From Good to Great - Jim Collins

Business Beyond the Box -  John O’Keeffe

Linchpin - Seth Godin

Have an adventure – no refund required

I’ve been back from my Djibouti whale shark adventure for just over a week now.

If I had £1 for everyone that asked me where Djibouti was I would have approx £117. Djibouti is in North East Africa between Ethiopia and Somalia. An interesting place with a strong French influence remaining despite the country’s independence from France in 1977. It is now predominately a port hub with a large population of transient military personnel from a wide range of countries.

The whale sharks turn up in the Gulf of Tadjoura area from October to February. Little is known about them. My adventure was organised by the Marine Conservation Society Seychelles and Megaptera who run research projects into the whale shark population of Djibouti to increase our knowledge of these magnificent animals.

The Djibouti whale shark research programme began in 2006. The volunteers role is to snorkel with the sharks and support the boat teams to identify sharks by taking photos of the markings on their left and right sides. The markings are like a shark fingerprint and enable the team to identify the shark using image matching software. We also looked out for fish travelling with the shark, scars and distinctive markings and any other sharky observations to help form an overall  picture of shark behaviour.

Whale sharks can live for 150 years and are the world’s largest living shark and largest living fish. The largest one on record is 18 metres long and weighed 34 tons. They are big. They are kind of crazy looking, a dark body covered in spots and stripe patterns with a wide flat head and a huge mouth. We don’t know much about their reproduction habits, but we know they only reach sexual maturity at the ripe old age of 20-25 and females carry up to 300 fertilised eggs at any one time, all at different stages of development that hatch in the uterus – which to be honest seems like a rum deal.

They like warm and tropical temperate seas (who can blame them) and they are known to make trans–oceanic migrations showing up in certain places at certain times on the year when the zooplankton they eat abounds, including Ningaloo in North West Australia, Christmas Island, Belize and the Seychelles.

They have few natural predators. Humans are their biggest threat, we hunt them for their fins, and their flesh is sold in Asian restaurants as ‘Tofu Shark’. An important part of the research project is raising awareness to protect this fantastic creatures.

Research shows that the Djibouti whale sharks are mostly young males; teenagers measuring between 3.5 – 7metres in length. It was awesome to be in the water with such amazing animals, they move with such grace and fearlessness. They come so close and move so quietly they can sneak up on you if you are not paying attention. More than once I turned round to be staring straight into an enormous black gaping mouth. We were also privileged to see a whale shark glide over our heads on an early morning scuba dive making the sky go eerily dark for a few seconds.

So I’ve had an adventure. I’ve learnt a lot about the whale sharks.  Swimming with them was an unforgettable experience.

You can have an adventure too. Check out these sites for some ideas, and if these don’t do it for you – come up with your own adventure – but promise me you will do something.

Earthwatch Institute is an international non-profit organization that brings science to life for people concerned about the Earth’s future. www.earthwatch.org

African Impact offers volunteer work Africa, working holidays abroad and gap year travel in Africa. Our volunteer projects, expeditions and tours. www.africanimpact.com

The Great Orangutan Project aims to connect people with wildlife and nature in ways in which environmental, social and economic benefits are created www.orangutanproject.com

Photo credits to Husain Al Qallaf