Friday, 14 September 2012

Five lessons we can learn from the Olympic and Paralympic Games

It had to be done – it almost certainly has been done on a million blogs on a million other topics too. 

What can fundraising learn from London 2012? Here, in no particular order, are the top 5 things I, Kathryn Brooke, think we can learn. 

One - Being British is no bad thing. 
We’re cool again. If you are a British charity that is nothing to shy away from. Yes we need to be sensitive to our beneficiaries – I am in particular thinking international charities here. 

We don’t want to go back to selling some colonial idea of the white man in the safari suit saving the day. But for us UK fundraisers our donors are (mostly) British - so let them know they are supporting a British charity. They are playing their part in the good our country can do.
Two - Merchandise is also cool.
Whilst I was never an Olympic cynic (I spent 7 years in pre excitement build up,) I never in a million years thought I would buy myself a ‘Team GB’ T-shirt or an official GB running top (for when I bumble along at the pace of a snail), or even a Wenlock (yes the weird looking toy thing!), but I did. 

Now whilst I am not suggesting you go out and spend your entire fundraising budget on toys and t-shirts, I think there is something about getting people to feel so proud of their charity that they want to wear our tops or buy our mascots. 

Making people want to feel proud to support your charity can only have a good effect. And that effect could be they wear your t-shirt, But if you don’t have merchandise it could just be that they tell their friends about you or just keep that regular gift coming. 

We must make sure our communication is making people feel proud of what they have done and not just telling them all the things we have done. 

A great example of this is the lottery posters thanking everyone for their support – you haven’t just bought a lottery ticket – you’ve got Jessica Ennis a gold medal! 

Three - Volunteers are amazing. 
Weren’t the games makers great? I found myself high-fiving them again and again – me, a grown woman, doing that. And as morale started to drop a little when I was held in a queue to Stratford station, who was there to pick everyone up and make sure we went home with the excitement that we arrived with? All volunteers, just doing their bit. 
     Now how many of us having sighed deeply when an email comes round saying ‘we have a volunteer in for the next 3 weeks so please think of how they can help you’? I know I have been guilty of this; having thoughts like ‘in the time it takes me to explain I could have done it myself’ and ‘I just need to get my head down today, I don’t have time to answer a load of questions’.

But actually we need to remember volunteers are amazing. They come and work for free. FOR FREE. That is a massive gift to give. And with a bit of (yes I know) time and support they can do so much for your organisation, not just in terms of work but in the good word they spread to everyone.
Four - Competition can be good. 
Yes it is the taking part that counts, but look at David ‘4 Golds’ Weir; it is about the winning too. 

So how can we use this to improve our fundraising? Obviously it has to be done carefully and is not just about who gives the most money. It has to be relevant to your cause and to your fundraising. And throwing out prizes left right and centre is possibly not going to make it look like you are spending money wisely.

However, when done well, it can really add benefits. The most obvious place for it to work is probably community fundraising and I really like this idea from Save the Children (Target 150)

But it can also be used for telephone and street fundraisers. The incentive doesn’t have to cost money or take time. A card to say thank you each week to the best performer or a spare cup, t-shirt or pen can really motivate and encourage the team. 

Five - It’s all about the emotion
Anyone else feel like the Games became the new romcoms? I felt like I should have been watching them with a box of chocolates, glass of wine and massive packet of tissues. Yes it’s about the sport and excitement on the day. But it is also about the sheer determination and dedication it has taken everyone to get there. 

We can sit and talk rationally about the games – about the costs, about the benefits to future generations, the development of the east end, but really it is the personal stories that make the lips wobble and the tears flow. 

So the next time someone says ‘why do you need a case study, you should be explaining the context, not just talking about one child’ - ask them what made them cry at the Olympics? The positive impact infrastructure redevelopment will have on the East End or Mo Farah hugging his daughter?   

I mean, come on? I am on my way to donate to the Mo Farah Foundation as I type. 

Kathryn Brooke


1 comment:

  1. "If you haven't any charity in your heart you have the worst kind of heart trouble" to cure it Help people, let's unite for one good cause, be a volunteer"save lives"! mawaddainternationalaid