“Oh, that sounds great! I’ll check it out!”
You know how people are always telling you that you need to watch this enlightening talk or that hilarious clip, but you never get round to it? Well, I’ve made it easy for you here, because the TED talk I need you to watch is embedded right here.
Watch it now and then I want to talk to you about its huge relevance for charities, and particularly for fundraisers. See you in a bit.
Now, how do charities develop their strategies?
So often, I’ve seen strategies that, if they focus on anything in particular, major on the how and the what. Can we be clear? This is not a strategy. It is an action plan.
Nothing wrong with action plans. But can we stop calling them strategies, please?
Worse still, there’s a danger that charities do the process in reverse. We look at what we do and how we do it. And then we think about why we do it.
We mustn’t exist just for our outputs, the production of our charity widgets, if you will. Why are those widgets useful? Whose lives will they change?
Which brings me to the importance of understanding and communicating the difference between outputs (the ‘what’ effectively) and outcomes or impact (the ‘why’). (Let’s leave the question of whether there’s a difference between outcomes and impact for another blog. though.)
I came across this lovely tweet recently, which explained it in reference to cake. Everything should be about cake.
I always use this brilliant analogy for explaining inputs / outputs / outcomes / impact from @BigLotteryFund – hopefully helps get your head round the difference and the jargon! #fundraising pic.twitter.com/gHusZV4vp3
— Lindsay Harrod (@lindsaymharrod) November 26, 2018
But what about fundraising, I hear you ask. I did say that starting with why was relevant here too, didn’t I? Well remembered.
It’s important for three reasons:
1. It makes our Case For Support more compelling
As with strategies, it’s amazing how many cases for support I see that don’t focus on the why first.
What is the need for your work? What would happen if this initiative or indeed your organisation didn’t exist? Why you? Why now? What actually changes as a result of anything that you want to do?
Explain the why compellingly, and your donor will be hooked.
If you don’t sort out why you’re doing what you’re doing, your fundraising will be rubbish.
2. It links back to our organisations’ services and beneficiaries
Horrible word, beneficiaries, but I hope you get my point. We don’t exist to fundraise, and we need to remember that. The only reason we fundraise is to do more of the stuff we originally set out to do. Starting with why reminds us of this. Ben Alonso puts it well here:
Day 8: What is more important for Fundraising? The “what” or the “why”? For me it will always be the “why”. Those who spend donors’ money should be as involved in donors and their experience as those who raise money from donors. #proudfundraiser #fundraising
— Ben Alonso (@BenAlonsoUK) August 2, 2018
3. It motivates us as fundraisers
And finally, it can reconnect us to our cause and make us better fundraisers as a result.
When you realise you’ve been stuck behind your computer all day, when you have been spending too much time thinking about numbers of cocktail sausages needed for that fundraising event, when you close your eyes and you see spreadsheets…
… starting with why helps us to take a step back, and remember the reason we do what we do in the first place.