Be more human and drop the jargon

As an official blogger for the Institute of Fundraising’s Fundraising Convention, I was back on day two, excited for the sessions ahead. This time I mixed it up a bit and didn’t spend the entire day in the digital stream sessions. Missed day one? Read my highlights here.

First session of the day, however, and I was back in the digital stream to hear ReubenΒ  Turner, Creative Director of GOOD Agency present on Digital: are we doing it all wrong? Now, I’ve known Reuben for years and heard him speak many times. He tells it like it is, pulls no punches but also always has new and interesting things to say and share. And he didn’t disappoint.

Reuben urged us not to think like content marketers (but isn’t content King?), always in pursuit of that next click or like.

content marketing.JPG

Instead, be more human. More of us want to feel connected and part of a tribe and this is the beauty of digital as it can bring people who belong, together.

Take a look at how the Army now recruit. It’s less ‘come and drive a tank!’ and more ‘here is where you belong’.

Army recruitment.JPG

Although SEO, adwords, test and learn etc are your base, and are of course still important, they will only lead to incremental growth. This is more process than emotion.

Less human.JPG

Instead, focus on being more human and bringing out these qualities in people:

1. Acknowledge me (I’m here)
2. I care about this too (I belong)
3. I can make a difference ( I matter)

More human.JPG

Quite frankly, no one cares about advertising, marketing or even fundraising (apart from those whose job it is) so we need to find that sweet spot and tap into culture. It’s less about what we WANT people to care about and more about tapping in to what they actually care about. That’s how we will win hearts and minds.

Culture not advertising.JPG

For my second session I ventured out of the digital stream (to cries of ‘traitor!’ Only kidding) and joined the panel discussion on the Election 2017: What did it mean for charities and fundraising? The speakers included former BBC Newsnight reporter and NCVO chair Peter Kellner, Lucy Caldicott, CEO of UpRising and Fundraising Regulator board member, Vinay Nair, CEO and co-founder of Lightful and John Tizard, strategic advisor and commentator.

There were some really interesting points, summed up in the following tweets.

Ultimately, the key lesson was that we are in uncertain times but we must not let that distract us from our mission. We must still lobby for the causes we care about – we owe it to our beneficiaries.

My third session was on How to drive Digital transformation in practice by Yasmin Georgiou, Head of Digital Engagement at Great Ormond Street Hospital. This was such a good session! I loved how Yas made it seem so accessible and achievable. Digital transformation suddenly didn’t sound so scary! That’s not to say it’s easy though…

Yas started with the question ‘Why do we need to change?’ For GOSH, there were 3 reasons:

1. (a new) Organisational strategy
2. Outdated processes between digital and fundraising
3. ‘Digital’ had lost all meaning

No one at the charity was crying out for ‘transformation’ but rather for innovation. They wanted shiny things like VR, but without the foundation in place (what their supporters wanted, needed and expected from their digital channels) they couldn’t just step into innovation. It’s really refreshing to hear that Yas said ‘no’, rather than jump on the new, shiny things – tempting as they were.

Being Head of Digital is challenging, if digital has lost all meaning.

So get rid of the jargon, as internal stakeholders don’t understand it and it makes them feel intimidated and devalued. Ditch ‘transformation’ and just replace it with ‘the thing’ such as the website or new database or whatever the project is.

Digital maturity is a gradual progression with realistic goal setting and is not about the digital team – it’s an organisation-wide view. This gradual process works particularly well for risk averse charities. Yas used, amongst other things, Third Sector’s Digital Maturity Matrix, developed by the digital team at Breast Cancer Care, to assess where they are now and where they want to be.

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It’s about evolution, not revolution. You might want to wrap up your project in a couple of months but you have to go at the pace of the organisation. Yas said that if she had gone any faster she would have lost people along the way. A top tip is when setting up departmental workshops, don’t forget about the HR team – the conversations with them were the most telling.

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Yas says that it’s important to look outwards and admit when you need external support so she got an agency involved, looked to her peers in the sector and went to events and had lots of coffees. She also accessed a CharityComms mentor, which helped immensely.

And this is their Digital Matrix.

GOSH digital matrix.JPG

The to do list is the maturity index and the roadmap, which is now a living strategy. Conversations now are about meeting an organisational need rather than talking about channels and technology. The result of this new way of working has led to the One day at GOSH campaign, which was filmed over 24 hours at the hospital.

Yas’s four top tips for embarking on digital transformation are:

1. Work at the right pace (go too fast and you’ll alienate people)
2. Collaboration and empathy
3. Be clear on expertise
4. Be prepared to adapt

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After lunch I went along to the Women Leaders in Fundraising panel discussion, chaired by Lizzi Hollis. Lizzi set up Charity Women to tackle inequality in the sector. I urge you to join the Facebook group!

The panel consisted of:

  • Helen McEachern, Director of Fundraising at ActionAid UK
  • Carol Akiwumi, Fundraising Consultant and Trainer
  • Amanda Bringans, Interim Director of Fundraising at the British Heart Foundation and Chair of Institute of Fundraising
  • Meredith Niles, Fundraising Director at Marie Curie
  • Kerry Blackstock, Director of Public Fundraising at WWF UK

Lizzi Hollis.JPG

It was a fascinating discussion and an important one too. Inequality and diversity are key issues that the sector needs to address – now.

My key learnings were:

  • speak up when you see or hear sexism, racism or inequality
  • we need to attract young, male talent into the sector because we don’t actually want it to become ‘women’s work’
  • leaders need to surround themselves with the best people and acknowledge and value their skills
  • it’s up to all of us (men and women) to fight inequality in the sector
  • as women, we need to stop ‘trying to have it all’. Decide what is important to you and work on that
  • we need to challenge the norms of what women are expected to do. The sector needs to allow for flexible working – for all parents, not just mothers
  • diversity needs to start at board level

It was a thought-provoking day at Fundraising Convention. On to day three!

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