Good grief! I can’t believe I’ve been writing this blog for six years now, without yet mentioning my very first love, my very first obsession.
Yes, it was Peanuts, and Snoopy in particular. I loved that beagle. I cherished my cute Snoopy cuddly toy. My first ever watch featured Snoopy playing tennis with the “big hand” being the one holding the racket, and the ball round the outside marking the seconds. I drank my warm milk out of a perspex snoopy mug for many years until I was probably too old to be drinking warm milk each evening. And several decades later, I still have all the books! I just could never bring myself to hand them to anybody else. They stay with me.
And on reflection, they have stayed with me, and they remain relevant to who I am and my thoughts about the charity sector. Here are some reasons why:
Dance like Snoopy
Snoopy is a fantastic creation. He’s at turns adventurous, charismatic, inventive, and filled with personality. He’s a fantasist and a role player – I particularly loved his ongoing flying ace dogfights from the top of his kennel with the Red Baron. He’s a loyal, protective friend to Woodstock, the anxious little bird who becomes more of a sidekick.
But it’s his love of dancing that has really stuck with me. There’s something so joyous and primal about it – arms and ears outstretched, beaming face turned upwards, legs blurred. This is passion, enjoyment, happiness and release, and for as long as I can remember, I’ve always identified with and shared Snoopy’s love of ‘letting go’ on the dance floor.
Working in the charity sector can be so tough; the stakes are high. We are perennially at risk of burning out. Do you know what helps give you balance? When can you throw your arms out and let go from time to time?
And I like to think we all do what we do because we have a passion for the end results. Can we express our emotions as fiercely as Snoopy does?
Be strong, like Lucy
The female characters in Peanuts are brilliant. They are strong, forceful, character-filled leaders, and Peanuts was ahead of its time in this regard. Peppermint Patty is way better at all sports than anyone else and is a real advocate for women’s equality on the field. Marcie is clearly the cleverest. Charlie Brown’s little sister is independent, loving, and beautifully owns her emotions and anxieties about going to school, for example.
But it’s Lucy who’s the best female role model of all. Unashamedly loud, “crabby” whenever she felt she needed to be, opinionated, hilariously forceful, but also vulnerable, loyal and loving. I was lucky to have her, and indeed all of these female characters, in my life.
Then and now. I have no doubt that pretty much all the best fundraisers I’ve worked with over the years have been women. By some distance the best speaker I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing (more than once) is this woman. As an interim fundraising leader, I’ve recruited brilliant women to senior fundraising roles in recent years.
I’m profoundly troubled by the stories that are coming out of sexism and sexual harassment in fundraising. But change is coming. My hope – no, my prediction – is that pretty soon, the next generation of fundraising “gurus” will largely be female, and I know that our world will be a better place for it.
Keep going, like Charlie Brown
Tomorrow is a new day. pic.twitter.com/MxKUP56vhq— PEANUTS (@Snoopy) February 17, 2019
And what can I say about Charlie Brown? I love him too. Even as an adult, I proudly own a Charlie Brown T-shirt (yellow with black zig-zags).
Why do I identify with him so strongly? It’s something relating to the charity sector and (to use a word I’m coming to dislike) resilience, I think. Charlie is such an interesting central character. He’s not particularly heroic. He’s anxious and fearful, and not particularly good at sport. And yet he continues to lead his baseball team. He continues to hope that one day the little red-headed girl will notice him. He keeps trying to get that kite to stay up in the air and out of the tree. He continually trusts that one day Lucy will hold the football for him to kick and not pull it away at the last minute.
And above all, he keeps trying, because the next day may be different. At heart, like him, I must be a dogged, persevering optimist, I suppose. And I think we can all learn, in the charity sector, from his loyalty to his friends and his fierce determination under it all to fight for what is right.
Everybody dance now!
Dancing my way into Christmas like… pic.twitter.com/kn2gYtvgXS— PEANUTS (@Snoopy) December 20, 2018