The perils of writing sector articles

I’ve been thinking about writing about my feelings on contributing to sector articles for a while now and when I saw this LinkedIn Pulse post by Simon Scriver, and the fact that my Guardian Voluntary Sector article on the #icebucketchallenge went live today, it seemed like the perfect time.

Don’t ask me how I ever started writing sector articles in the first place – I honestly can’t remember. I do remember my first one for the Guardian on how charities were using gamification was written because they contacted me directly having seen my NFPtweetup Storify on gamification.

For those of you in the sector who know me (in real life and through Twitter), you would probably say I’m a really confident person. And I am, to a degree. But I’ll tell you a little secret… when it comes to ‘putting myself out there’, I am quite frankly terrified.

I wrote the #icebucketchallenge piece for the Guardian on Monday night because I had seen people in the sector debating the topic on Twitter and I believed it needed a wider audience to have a bigger debate. It’s an issue that will come up again and again so we may as well talk about it now. As I’ve written a few articles for the Guardian, I knew it was something they would be interested in publishing and as it’s so well known it would be the best platform to get this debate going.

Since Monday night I have been wracked with nerves. Would people think the article was balanced (This is VERY important to me)? Would Macmillan, a charity who I actively support, be vilified? Would people think I was just writing it for self promotion? Would they this, would they that… the self-doubt questions are endless. There are so many people in the sector I admire and look up to and whenever something like this happens I wonder if they’re thinking, “Enough with the self promotion!”.

I’m not going to lie and deny that part of it is not about self promotion. It is, because it leads to opportunities. I can absolutely tell you now that the only reason I have my current job is because of the articles I’ve written. When I was freelance, self promotion was vital for getting work. And once you start…well, it’s quite hard to stop.

I do also like the buzz I get from people saying they’ve enjoyed my articles, or that is was well written or ‘interesting’ (though sometimes this is loaded – interesting in a good way or bad?). And of course there are times when people don’t agree with me, and that’s uncomfortable too. Unsurprisingly, I don’t particularly enjoy conflict. But this is a price you have to pay.

It is a bit about ego too, of course it is. My family are super proud of my achievements and actually, I am too. I never set out to be where I am now in my career (heck, I started out in finance!) but somehow it’s happened. And I’m not going to apologise for it.

The point of writing this is really to put my feelings down on paper (does a blog count as ‘paper’?) so that hopefully they can stop consuming my thoughts. I wonder if others who write for the sector feel the same?

Top tips for small charities

#FRTweets takes place every Friday on Twitter at 12 and it’s for those working in the charity sector with an emphasis on fundraising. This week’s topic was all about fundraising for small charities and as a Trustee of the Small Charities Coalition, I just had to get involved in the discussion.

There were six questions in total, the last of which needed an hour in itself to answer! I Storified the discussion and there is a list of resources at the bottom – not just for people working in small charities but for anyone who works in the sector.


Have you got any tips to offer that weren’t covered? Comment below!

Squared Online- a digital journey

Last night was my first Squared Online course. Squared Online is Google’s Digital Marketing course and I will be embarking on this virtual learning journey over the next six months.

These are my thoughts so far:

1. The classes are all conducted online, every Thursday night from 7 – 8pm. This is a challenge for me as I much prefer face-to-face. I found (when it was enabled), the reams of messages from fellow Squares rather distracting. Looking at them too much made me feel slightly sea sick. On the plus side, I was in my pajamas and sipping a cider – not something you can do in a face-to-face class…(at least I don’t think you can).

2. From module 2 (or maybe it’s 3…I forget) we will be put into groups ranging from 5 to 8 people and assessed as a group. Again, this is challenging for me. I’m not a perfectionist but I feel slightly uneasy about having to rely on people I don’t know to pull their weight and make as much out of the course as I plan to do.

3. I need to get over the unease of virtual classes and group work and just get on with it.

Things I’m looking forward to are:

1. Making the most of this opportunity and learning as much as I possibly can, then putting it into practice.

2. Meeting new people from all sorts of backgrounds and cultures, with different levels of experience and hopefully having lots of interesting discussions (note: discussions, not arguments).

3. Challenging myself.

4. Sharing what I’ve learnt.

I’ll be posting about my journey along the way so check back for regular updates.

Oh, and if you’re also taking part: I’m in the green group. If you are too and you’re on Twitter, let me know and I’ll add you to my list.