Revolutionise: 15 tips for 2015

Earlier this month, I attended the Revolutionise Annual Lectures in London. The second event of its kind, it saw 18 speakers share their philanthropy and leadership insight and expertise. The Revolutionise team compiled a Storify of delegate tweets which captures many of the themes and conversations from the day. I’ve gathered some personal reflections in my 15 for 2015 list:

1.    Be ambitious
B.H.A.G it! What is your ‘Big Hairy Audacious Goal’? Whatever your mission (to help more children, save more lives, find a cure faster), be ambitious!

“A true BHAG is clear and compelling, serves as unifying focal point of effort, and acts as a clear catalyst for team spirit. It has a clear finish line, so the organization can know when it has achieved the goal; people like to shoot for finish lines.” – Collins and Porras

2.    Challenge yourself

3.    Never miss an opportunity
Be ahead. Be bold. Be positive. Be innovative.

4.    Science is cool

In his keynote address, Phil Barden of Decode Marketing explained how we can take the principles of science and leverage them in our communications. Science can help us to understand decision-making and what drives us, as shown in the Decode Goal Model (pictured).

Interested in finding out more?  To receive regular updates on behavioural economics, psychology and neuroscience and their implications for marketing and communications, sign up to Decode Marketing’s Science Update.

Some light reading for the Christmas holidays:
–    Decoded: The Science Behind What We Buy by Phil Barden
–    Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
–    Lots of talk about the Chimp! I’ll be trying to tame mine by reading The Chimp Paradox by Prof. Steve Peters

5.    Tangibility

Did you know that autopilot is the preferred state of the brain? And, autopilot responds to rewards that are tangible. So if the brain responds to tangible reward, how tangible is your cause?

A recent high-impact example of tangible cause-fundraising in the UK is The Tower of London Remembers [pictured left]. This week, Social Bite (an Edinburgh and Glasgow based social business) is running a simple but highly effective campaign: £5 buys Christmas dinner for a person who is homeless. 22,000 bought and counting…

6.    Why?

As organisations, our ‘Why?’ is our mission. But donors have a ‘Why?’ too. We need to give people an opportunity to connect their values with action. This is the point where the two ‘Whys?’ meet.

7.    Tie money to the mission
We need to be better at linking our fundraising to the cause.

If we’ve made a commitment to change something in the world, we need the money and the people to do it! #AnnualLectures
— Zoe Greenfield (@Zoe_Greenfield) December 4, 2014

8.    Don’t apologise
Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Society spoke passionately about fundraising’s core role within any organisation but called for a change in attitude (both internally and externally). Why is it hidden down a list? Or not even mentioned at all! Why aren’t we telling people how much we need to raise instead of being apologetic about it? Without the money we couldn’t do anything!

9.    Tackling some of the myths
People are right to be suspicious and to ask questions. We should want donors who are engaged enough to ask us challenging questions!

I recently started reading The Great Charity Scandal and was filled with rage. Not at the accusations made against charities but the potential damage such an attack will have on public perception of charity and consequently the amount of money people give to good causes.

Case in point: overheads. Hughes suggests that it is disingenuous to say ‘100% goes to the cause’. We should be worried about such claims; it is simply not possible to run an organisation with zero overheads.

10.    Giving: more than money
Tony Elischer declared the traditional and somewhat narrow view of giving redundant. The idea that the only ways to give are time, money and goods needs to be expanded to include voice, influence and lifestyle change.

Fundraising: not just there to raise money but to build a community of supporters who will raise their voices for your cause #AnnualLectures
— Zoe Greenfield (@Zoe_Greenfield) December 4, 2014

We also need to consider reciprocity in giving, said Ken Burnett. As organisations we need to give the right things to our donors (customer services, stories) to make them want to continue their support and more importantly, spread the word.

11.    Make noise

We might be small but we should make alot of noise because in silence it’s easy to ignore problems in society #AnnualLectures
— Zoe Greenfield (@Zoe_Greenfield) December 4, 2014

12.    Be disruptive
It is hard to get noticed! You have to be different to grab attention, said Richard Taylor of CRUK who highlighted a shock campaign by the Pillion Trust #FuckthePoor (watch the video here) to show the lengths to which some organisations have gone to get noticed. In a similar way, we must embrace new and innovative ways of fundraising such as crowdfunding and digital.


13.    It’s OK to be angry.

Iain MacAndrew of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust talked about bringing the anger back into the organization through their 50th Anniversary ‘No Party’ campaign. After all, why should they celebrate their 50th anniversary when so many of their client group die long before that?

14.    Profit with purpose

There is a constant rumbling about the need for charities to be, or act, more corporate. But, if that were true, why are companies trying to be more like us? Business should serve society too: “Winning alone is not enough, it’s about winning with purpose.” Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever.

Jacob Rolin asked why we as a sector define ourselves as something we are not and advocates a more positive definition: “Be prepared to lead the change… deliver a purpose.”

A phrase which came up many times throughout the day: profit-with-purpose. Charities shouldn’t shy away from talking in terms of profit (money left over after your expenditure) because it is this money which allows us to make change.

15.    Be social
Times change. We need to embrace all things digital. Happy (digital) Christmas! Click here to watch a short video.

**All of the ideas, images and links came from the #AnnualLectures. I have tried to give credit where possible but after a 4am start and 15 pages of notes, my mind was abuzz and this was the most sense I could make of my notes after a day of frantic note-taking and talks jam-packed with ideas and insight. Thank you to all of the speakers! See you in 2015!**