Do something good this #GivingTuesday

It’s #GivingTuesday – a day where the public is urged to ‘do good stuff’ for charity as it falls after the consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

#GivingTuesday is by the team at Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) and this is only its third year – but the stats are impressive:

  • in 2015 £6,000 a minute was raised for UK charities
  • A World Record was broken for the most money donated online in 24 hours
  • #GivingTuesday is run in over 70 countries around the world.

#GivingTuesday is not just about raising money.

Here are a few ideas for how you can take part in #GivingTuesday that doesn’t involve money:

  1. Write for Amnesty – send some words of comfort to Nazanin, a charity worker imprisoned in Iran (the charges remain a secret) and sign the petition to free her.
  2. Simply tweet  – tweet using #TweetForShelter and British Gas will donate £1 to Shelter (up to £25,000).
  3. Become a volunteer – Beanstalk is just one charity calling for people to volunteer their time to make a difference.

4. Give the gift of listening – this is a lovely idea from Samaritans. Do you have a friend, family member or colleague who needs a friendly ear? Take the time to listen to them. It could save a life.

5. Nominate a local cause – supermarkets, such as The Co-op are looking for local causes to support so nominate a local charity.

6. Become a trustee – charities need strong and effective boards so make a huge difference by becoming a trustee for a cause you care about. Find opportunities on Trustee Finder.

7. Spread the word – if you support charities, why not tweet or share on Facebook why you support them and help raise awareness of their cause.

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?