Friday, 29 May 2009

What a Pair of F***ing Nutters

This is David (who I met on my Masters degree course at Bristol) with his wife Angharad and their son Charlie. Although they look as if they're on their way to a fancy dress party they are in fact moving to Afghanistan. Hence the title.

This is how David, a former news cameraman who also served two tours in Afghanistan with the army, explains what, at first glance, seems a rather odd lifestyle choice.

"We're going to live in north east Afghanistan for the next five or so years to promote and develop the return of tourism to the area. The Wakhan corridor has some of the best climbing in the world, it's remained completely trouble free and the local people really want to see tourists return.

"In July four Afghans will attempt to climb the country's highest mountain – which will be an historic first. If we can help provide the right media coverage of this achievement it will be a unifying event for the entire nation just as the success of the Afghan cricket team has really brought people together. This might seem like just too small a gesture to make a difference but the BBC's correspondent in Kabul told me that this is the only good news he will cover in Afghanistan this year. And that makes it important.

"Afghans are renowned as much for their hospitality as for their ability to repel foreign armies. It's about time the world paid more attention to the 99.95% of Afghans who aren't in the Taliban."

Angharad, who is a paediatric nurse, will also be helping to run a healthcare and development projects for local women.

So not quite such a pair of nutters after all. I for one can't wait to see what happens and I suspect that David's blog will make our intermittent drivel seem even less enthralling.

You can find out more at their website. And if you want to bung their project (which is a registered Community Interest Company) a fiver a month until it becomes self-sustaining then their bank details are:

Account Name: Mountain Unity International
Account Number: 76056341
Sort Code: 60 17 24

What a pair of f***ing heroes.


Tuesday, 26 May 2009

That feels better...

This one doesn't really need much explanation. The idea came from the wonderful Shormeh Omaboe at Centrepoint, Open wrote and designed it in a couple of hours and our friends at Total Media did a brilliant job of sticking it where it hurt the most – in Sunday's Telegraph.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Thank You

I've just received a thank you letter. It was in response to a small upgrade gift to a charity that phoned me the other day. I've been supporting them for a number of years. 

As I said, it was only a small increase. £5 a month to be precise. They wanted £10. And boy did the caller make that clear.

When I opened my mail this morning, it was as if the echo from the caller's disappointed and tired voice had found itself trapped in a C5 envelope. A mechanical, dreary, 'acknowledgement' of my gift with a whisper of a thanks. I could see the authors forced smile as she attempted to say something nice to me.

It really saddens me when we don't invest time in thanking donors properly. Sure, if you ask people if they want to be thanked, they'll probably say no. After all who would publicly acknowledge such a need. "Don't worry about little me. Save your money."

But it's rude not to thank and lazy not to do it properly.  

We should want our donors to feel needed, loved, appreciated. This should be a hug not a punishment. 

I recently briefed one of our writers to produce a thank you letter.  I simply showed her this bit of film. I'd like this in an envelope please.
What ever we think of Operation Christmas Child. This is good, donor-led,  fundraising.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Under the Influential

Until 2007, Professional Fundraising's Top 50 list was, without a shadow of a doubt, a meaningless parade of shallow self-aggrandizement. Then, suddenly, it became a vital barometer with its finger firmly on the pulse of the sector.

At least that's what I told my mum, who was absolutely made up to see her son appear in a real magazine in a list that said 'influential' at the top and also included Joe Saxton. I mean the Prime Minister.

Sadly, I suspect that the 2009 Top 50 will see me depart back to richly-deserved obscurity. But thanks to Derek Humphries, an exciting new name will appear – perhaps even on the top spot.

I'm talking, of course, about 'The Donor'.

Now I'm all for donors influencing fundraising. But I do worry that this campaign will lull the sector into a false sense of security. Because the Top 50 is meant to be a list of people who DO influence fundraising. Not people who OUGHT TO.

I'm not saying that 'The Donor' should be excluded. I'm just saying that if 'The Donor' goes on the list then they should probably go on along with 'The Chief Executive', 'The Chief Executive's Spouse', 'The Most Junior Fundraiser in the Department', 'The Poorly-Conceived and Ruthlessly Enforced Brand Guidelines' and 'That Bloke Who Complained'.

You see, these have all, at one time or another, been more influential than the donor when it comes to making the ask. And while this is not a universal phenomenon, it seems unfair that 'The Donor' should get all the credit.

So let's vote for her (or him) by all means. But only on the condition that if she (or he) does top the chart then we spend the coming year making sure it's a well deserved win.