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#90 Diet and exercise

Fast approaching is the time of year that we make promises to ourselves to become better. Our new year’s resolutions usually include going to the gym more, eating better, and spending more quality time with our family and loved ones. This new year, more than ever, we have some decisions to make. Whether it’s losing the COVID kilos or changing our work/life balance for the better, the COVID lockdowns will have changed all our perspectives and given us some new goal to aim for.

For me personally, diet and exercise are firmly back on the table. I have learned that if I look after myself better, I am better able to look after others – and with a newborn and a toddler roaming our home we definitely need the energy.

As for our fundraising, how can that be influenced by our decisions?

One notable finding from our 2020 white paper was the need to follow a creed that encourages us to make better decisions. To think before we act. The manifesto was our group’s best attempt at this for the F2F market.

  • I am a passionate fundraiser who inspires donors to make long-term connections with causes they love.

  • I am a proud advocate of face-to-face fundraising.

  • Every donor has chosen to make a personal connection with our cause – I will treat them as passionate individuals.

  • Honest and integrity are more important to me than expediency and profit.

  • Everyone involved in face-to-face fundraising is responsible for upholding these values.

Adoption of this manifesto should be at the top of everyone’s resolutions list as we head into 2021 because the sector cannot survive long-term if we act as we did in 2020.

The second big discovery, one that has been globally echoed¸ was that the problems facing the sector can be divided into two camps. Symptomatic and systematic.

Many of our efforts over the past five years have been unwittingly targeted at the symptoms, not at the underlying issues.

This is the difference between taking a paracetamol to relieve a bad back versus building muscle through gentle exercise and reducing activities that cause inflammation. One is a temporary relief that guarantees you will relive the pain again once you twist at an odd angle or lift a small child (the latter from personal experience), whilst the other is a change of lifestyle that removes the likelihood of ever suffering through the same injury and reduces the chances of other illnesses and disorders.

The heartbreaking part of this is that many charities aren’t even taking the pill, let alone the institutional changes needed to save their programs. They assume that this is the way it is supposed to be. They say, ‘I’m supposed to groan as I get out of a chair, I’m getting older’ rather than looking to the 97-year-old marathon runner who is

still as strong as they were at 70 and saying, ‘I want to do that?’.

So, to continue the health theme, my challenge to the charities of the world in 2021 is to add diet and exercise to your resolutions.

Diet: What you put in your system.

You are what you eat. My three-year-old know that candy is a ‘sometimes’ food not the cornerstone of nutrition. So, we need to stop putting junk into our programs and expecting them to be healthy. Cut out the crap, and make sure whatever you put into your program will sustain it.

Exercise: The work to maintain and improve health.

The problems with exercise are that the first run is hard. The first visit to the gym is hard. You don’t always see resu

lts in the first month and this makes you want to give up. Don’t give up. Keep going. This will make you stronger, fitter, smarter and a better fundraiser.

  • Adopt the manifesto. Be mindful.

  • Mystery Shop to see what your fundraisers are saying and doing in your name.

  • Go to their office to see how they are being trained. Understand the supplier’s culture and goals.

  • Burn down the PowerPoint training and replace it with quality time with your teams. Buy them a coffee. Go out in the field with them.

  • Check your contracts. Run audits on WHS, fundraiser engagement models, payslips. Make sure they are legal. There needs to be a minimum benchmark for the quality of outsourcing to create a more level playing field for those playing by the rules.

  • If you are running a f2f program without adequate reporting, you must stop your program until this is resolved.

  • Volume at all costs is not the answer. Work with your board so that they understand the impact of their decisions on a fragile channel. High quality f2f and tele-fundraising are not just taps you can turn off and on when you need volume, and volume in isolation should never be your goal.

  • Review the business model you use to engage your suppliers and check whether it rewards the behaviours you are looking for to get the outcomes you need.

  • Work with other charities to discuss these issues. You are not alone.

Before the sector runs out of band aids and ibuprofen, take a good look at your program and find the gaps. Find the areas that need an overhaul. We, at Fundraising Partners, would be honoured to help in any way we can, but either way, make sure that better diet and more exercise are your goals for 2021.

Happy fundraising.


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