11th July 2013

Staff Acquisition and Retention: If your people are your greatest asset, is it really that different to fundraising?

On Tuesday 2nd July, Julia Roberts and I were invited to speak at the Institute of Fundraising Annual Convention. We have always felt that charities and non-profit organisations should seek to apply a similar approach with current / future employees as they do with donors, and this was a central theme throughout our presentation. There is a lack of candidates for important hires in the sector, and that addressing this needs to be an urgent priority. We also know that there is a distinct lack of understanding from CEOs and Boards around how best to attract and retain talent. The crux of the afternoon’s session was that, in today’s crowded marketplace, non-profits should seek to develop their case for support around retention and acquisition in order to differentiate their role from the competition. What can a charity do to improve retention of staff? Here are some useful ideas: Script the first 90 days for smooth on-boarding Track employee engagement and morale Improve team communication / Offer areas of cross working Invest in professional development Improve access to senior management Promote internally Naturally there will be times when none of the above works and people simply move on. When this happens, […]
4th July 2013

More cuts. How will they impact on local government?

So the latest spending review has given us another glimpse of what public services will look like. Some local authorities will put their hands up in frustration, and some will roll their eyes, but the general feeling will be of “here we go, again”. Local government has been here many times before. Year on year they are given targets to reduce spend. Year on year they streamline services and work smarter. So perhaps the latest spending review doesn’t come as a surprise to many senior management teams in local government. There may still be some fat in the system and some more traditional local authorities (including London Boroughs) still have 7-8 Directors who aren’t even considering merging teams just yet, but it is quite clear that one of the main ways to achieve savings will be to integrate health and social care. The government will subsidise part of this integration by handing local authorities an extra £2bn and feedback from community budget pilots clearly demonstrate that there are massive savings to be made. Once again, integration is a buzzword that has been used for a while now. Some cynics may feel that local authorities are just talking the talk and […]
28th June 2013

How the arts can encourage ‘a world that works for everyone…’

Attending the Charity Awards recently it was great to see Pallant House Gallery win an award for their project ‘Outside In’ supporting people who have traditionally been marginalised by society and excluded from the arts. Having started life as a curator,  working in both the commercial art world and then for a charitable educational arts trust,  I saw first-hand the issues of access for those wanting to both participate and engage with art at all levels and unfortunately barriers to access were often perpetuated by the elitism and exclusivity of the art establishment itself. However, this project flies in the face of that and a gallery that has one of the best collections of British Modern Art is now extending its reach to engage 1,500 participating artists since the project began – those who had earlier found it difficult to access the mainstream art world. It has also garnered wholehearted support from an increasing audience and the ‘Outside In’ is a project that has gone from strength to strength. For me this  represents a great example of where charities,  if nothing else act as a catalyst to break down barriers, encourage people who think, or are told they ‘can’t’  to […]
16th June 2013

SOFII and the celebration of fantastic fundraising ideas…

On Thursday of last week I took some time out of the office to attend the wonderfully named IWITOT. For those of you unfamiliar with this acronym, it stands for I Wish I’d Thought of That, an event hosted this year at the Bishopsgate Institute in East London by SOFII http://www.sofii.org/about I’d heard excellent things about the event. A friend of mine who shall remain nameless played a part in last year’s proceedings and highly recommended I attend. The premise of the event is to showcase 20 different fundraising ideas that 20 different fundraisers wish they’d thought of. The afternoon was kick started by SOFII’s very own Ken Burnett, who must be one of the busiest men in fundraising. After a well delivered and emotional story, Ken left us with a line that was to sum up the whole day… ‘One man gathers what another man spills’, written by Ken Kasey, late author of ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’. At the time I did not grasp how perfectly that line would frame the afternoon’s proceedings. I spent a lot of my time listening to the achievements of charities and becoming very motivated and inspired by the fantastic work that […]
17th May 2013

Let’s recognise the achievements of trust fundraisers…

We all know the classical stereotypes of each fundraising discipline. Major donor fundraisers are outgoing types, skilled at quickly building relationships for the long-term mutual benefit of an organisation and donor. Corporate new business fundraisers are tenacious, at ease in networking events and quick to identify potential synergies between organisations. Direct marketing professionals are excellent data people, often with creative flair whist events fundraisers are bubbly, energetic and highly organised. The interesting thing to consider is the stereotype of the highly valued trust fundraiser. Essential to the income of a number of voluntary sector organisations, these wordsmiths are often painted as shy and retiring types, preferring to sit comfortably behind a computer, firing out compelling fundraising propositions rather than engage with donors in face-to-face fundraising. It’s often said that stereotypes exist for a reason. If so, are trust fundraisers in danger of being left behind by changing external conditions requiring more than simply a timely and well written funding application? Are these fundraisers doing enough to change the age-old perceptions of their role? It’s well documented that the fundraising landscape over the past few years has been challenging for bid writers. Increased competition as other voluntary sector organisations seek essential […]
7th May 2013

Don’t worry, be happy. If you’re not happy move on, or create the job you want!

Recently I was pitching to recruit a senior person for a charity and I was asked the question “what do I like about my work?”   A strange question you may think, and one I would have struggled with in the past whilst working at some previous employers (no points for guessing which if you look at my LinkedIn profile).  This question is however an inspired one by the panel member.  If I am not excited about my work how can I possibly get excited about theirs?  What would that mean in being able to represent them with passion and energy? Earlier in my career I remember being criticised for moving around too often. I would tend to get itchy feet in any role after 12-18 months, and unless my role changed significantly enough to give me a significant development opportunity, I would be off to a new employer who saw the potential.  It’s a shame that often people have to move to find a significant new role.  Wouldn’t it be better if employers actively managed people for the benefit of their careers, or recognised that people could come in for a year or two for a period of mutual benefits […]
19th April 2013

Tell me how and why – it’s that simple

I look at hundreds of CV’s and applications each year and candidates come in all shapes and sizes, but I’ve got to say this,  sometimes it feels like wading through treacle trying to get to the essence of what candidates have actually done! I’ve got a pretty good idea about what is going to work on a CV and supporting statement and so as we move into spring (despite the weather!),  this is a message to all those who want to compile an application that is going to work: First of all tell me how and why – evidence and examples of experience is the key. What you’ve done, how you did it and what was the impact. To differentiate yourself you’ve got to show the difference you made. Give clear and relevant metrics, e.g. size and scale of organisation, staff, budgets, P&L etc. Why do you want this job?   Your motivation matters, but is so frequently overlooked! Articulate what this is clearly and it provides a compelling complement to your relevant experience. Tailor your CV to what the role requires, emphasise the roles that have the most relevance. Before you even start, get as much information as you can […]
4th April 2013

Looking for a charity job with wide reach? Consider a students’ union…

When I approach prospective candidates about a students’ union management position, I’m often met with a slightly baffled response from those outside the sector.  Some express initial hesitation, others more tentative intrigue.  Across the board, I’m struck that many are unaware of the high impact career opportunities found in these increasingly professionalised, student-focused charities. The ‘traditional’ perception of the students’ union as keeper of the campus bar and social space no longer cuts the mustard.  Students’ unions now deliver across a broad spectrum of services that may include: sports and societies; advice and support; campaigning and representation; employability; health and fitness; restaurants, bars and clubs; and a raft of other membership and commercial services.  Each students’ union offers its own unique blend of services as directed by its members. Raised University fees have led to increasingly cost conscious students looking for good value throughout their time at University, and the modern students’ union plays a critical role alongside higher education institutions in delivering a meaningful ‘student experience.’  New schemes like the Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR), which documents both academic and extra-curricular University achievements for graduates, further cement the students’ union role as key vehicle for students to acquire new […]