I was fortunate enough to attend the second Annual Lectures, having won my place by writing this.
Here are, not so much 10 key lessons, but my 10 highlights from the day:
- Pat Dade asked “What parts of humans are still chimps?” reminding me that so many of our actions and reactions make no sense. Or at least make no sense to modern, logical, tweeting us. And don’t forget we share 50% DNA with bananas.
He went on to point out that our whole society is falling apart – is that a few bad apples or is it because of what we’re stuck working with?
- Jacob Rolin declared that “Church, State, and Financial Institutions are dying.” Beautiful.
He also confronted our habit of thinking other charities – especially children’s charities – are easier to fundraise for (I call it ‘The Cause Is Always Greener’). He said, “We are all children’s charities.” Your charity is making the world better for the next generation.
- Phil Barden explained a weak brand uses more energy in our brains. A strong brand uses less energy and allows us to autopilot and focus on survival. As humans we want autopilot. I think good fundraisers nurture a habit of giving…not flashes.
“It is hardwired in us to attend to humans.”
- Jeremy Hughes said “There is no point in standing there and not rattling the can.”
He’s 50 years a fundraiser. A fundraiser who became a CEO. And a delight to listen to.
I’m going to steal his quote and use it for years, saying it to bookend any conversation on fundraising in a poetic way, whether or not it makes sense.
- He also asked why isn’t the first page of our annual reports about money and how it ties in to what we do? We should be proud that everything relies on and is tied to fundraising. Instead it’s usually “Here’s a bit about fundraising even though you don’t want to hear it.”
- A couple of people quoted the Unilever CEO as saying “Unilever is the biggest NGO in the world, but because we make a profit we’re sustainable.”
- Iain McAndrew explained that Cystic Fibrosis advertised for a ‘Master Storyteller’ as opposed to ‘engagement’ or ‘marketing’ person.
- Ken Burnett lamented, “The biggest tragedy of most charity communications is that they’re dull.” His large collared shirt took out the eyes of the front row and he went on to explain that charities need to deliver Fast, Frequent, Fabulous Feedback. He knows what he’s talking about.
- Alan Clayton concluded that “People need to give…and we’re fulfilling that need.”
He did what he does best: riffing on the audience’s emotions like a Don McLean concert.
- Richard Taylor of CRUK neatly surmised every conference (and life itself) by saying “It’s worth remembering we don’t know what we’re talking about.”
It’s a bit of an injustice not mentioning Tony Elischer (King of The Quotables), and the rest of the legendary speakers. Great day.
Now get back to work.