Fire destroys offices of the Les Twentyman Foundation in Footscray

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A fire today in Footscray  at Little Saigon Market has destroyed the offices of the Les Twentyman Foundation destroying hundreds of Christmas gifts, including 6,000 donated school books, intended for children of poor families.

The Foundation has been a part of the Western suburbs of Melbourne for over 30 years and Les Twentyman has been the major driver.

Donations can be made at www.ltfoundation.com.au and material donations can be made by phoning the organisation on 9689 480 or visiting Replenish for Health in Douglas Parade, Williamstown.

 

 

New Year Resolves…Good New Things

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Sacred Kingfisher

It’s another January 1 and the New Year sits before us.. untouched waiting for us to decide what to do with it.

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Cheeky Currawong

A Good Thing

You can choose to make no resolutions about the NY. Many do (or is that don’t).  While I understand it feels like a waste of time if you don’t follow through, at least you had a goal to aim for.  Is it better to have no goals at all and take what comes?

So this year my resolution is specifically vague.  I’ve resolved to do something new (and positive) every day. That is, something I’ve never done before.  So that’s specific. And the vagueness is that I’m not going to plan what that ‘new good thing‘ is. I’m just making a commitment to do something new every day.  It doesn’t have to be incredibly dangerous, exciting or mind-bending, it just needs to be new.

So. January 1.  I kayaked down the Goulburn River to birdwatch and enjoy the gorgeous scenery.  Well not all of the GR but a nice, friendly non-rapid bit with my husband and a friend who showed us the way, let us use his kayaks and drove us back and forth! That is friendship, I’m sure.  In return, I pointed out the birds I recognised… a few Darters, lots of Little Corellas, 2 wonderful, delighting Kingfishers, lots of ducks, a Currawong singing in the trees, lots of noisy Cockatoos.

As we were visiting friends in a beautiful part of the Victorian farming region, perhaps it was easier to find something to do that I’d never done before. The more difficult thing will be to discover something different just as part of my normal everyday routine when I’m at home with the cat and wondering why I can’t watch foxtel for another hour.  Let’s see.

Happy New Year. And may many unexpected, happy, healthy and magical experiences come to you whether you resolved it that way or not!  PS Thanks BirdLife for the photos … I was too busy trying to stay in the Kayak to take photos! 🙂

Birdlife – all sorted for Christmas

A little addendum to my last post. BirdLife has just put out their formal Christmas campaign and given how much I like birds and want to protect them, I’m giving them an extra plug.   They have some really lovely bird-related products in their online store.  And who can resist a baby bird in a santa hat?!

‘Chairity’ starts at home…

Each year the sudden festooning of lampposts with Christmas decorations, mince pies in the supermarket and Christmas carols at my local cafe take me by surprise! “It’s Christmas!”, they yell! “Already?” I want to yell back!

This year is no exception .. perhaps because while I was visiting Sydney I was amazed to see – before Halloween was even over  –  some bright spark had already installed a 6.5 tonne Swarovski crystal-decorated tree in the Queen Victoria Buildings ! Now I think that’s really a bit early! It was very beautiful though.

It may sound it, but I’m not a cynic and I actually really like celebrating the end of the year, cooking Christmas cake, eating Christmas cake…

This prompted me to consider the various fundraising appeals and campaigns that are attempting to encourage us each to think about someone or something that needs the gift even more.

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Here are a few that caught my attention:

Chairity begins at home

Habitus Living – this glorious, glossy, envy-inspiring design magazine features the ‘Chairity Project‘ which, while not strictly for Christmas is happening around this time.

Chairity-Project-2015_Tracey-Deep_4-915x587Each beautifully designed chair will be auctioned off for chairity… sorry, charity… a great idea and a wonderful way to combine art, creativity and heartfelt innovation.  For more info visit Cult Design.

Very Berry Christmas!

jessicaIf you’ve already started shopping and perhaps like me you have a ‘gift drawer’ where you put things you’ve taken a fancy to but you’re not sure who they’re for (ok, that might just be me), how about buying a toy for a boy or girl you’ll probably never meet.    Berry Street is a wonderful children’s organisation which since 1877 has focused on the rights of children to have a safe and happy home. With their Christmas appeal, you can buy a gift on line, make a donation or get gift tags for your own choice of gift.  They only accept new toys and really need gifts for children aged 11-16+

Raining Cats and Dogs!

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If you have a cat, budgie, fish or a dog, give them an extra squeeze of affection (maybe not the fish) this festive season when so many cats and dogs are abandoned. Hard to believe I know but some owners find the cost of kennels or catteries to onerous and just leave their pets to fend for themselves.  And definitely please DO NOT give pets as gifts – these are often the unfortunate creatures that end up at lost dogs and cat shelters when their new owners find they cannot look after them. Consider this story in the Daily Telegraph last year but this sad story is the same every year.   If you’d like to support your favourite animal shelter, they often need blankets and financial donations are usually well received. Lort Smith had a great event ‘Pause for a cause‘ to raise money for the hospital, walking around Melbourne’s ‘Tan’ at the Botanical Gardens with over 100 dogs! What a great sight that would have been! Woof!

Cockatoos need you too!

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Let’s not forget our feathered friends this Christmas.  As a bird-lover I’m biased but it is easy to forget that we have so many beautiful native birds on the edge of extinction.  Visit BirdLife.org.au and see what you can do to help. You can become a BirdLife member for just $1.50 a week! Seems a small amount to help save beautiful birds like our waders, or the amazing Red Tailed Black Cockatoos.  What’s your favourite bird? Perhaps make a donation instead of a bought present for a friend.  I know they’d love it 🙂 (And keep your cat in at night, also a good gift to our feathered friends!)

Someone to watch over you

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Finally, this time of year can bring up a range of different and conflicting emotions. If you need someone to talk to, consider the Samaritans.  They have a help line for anyone needing a bit of support. Reach out if you need to. Or consider Lifeline who are there to help with many difficult situations.

Wishing you and your loved ones a safe and happy Festive Season. And if you think it’s too early to be saying this, blame Swarovski! 🙂

 

We went dry in July and helped raise over $4m – with @Dryjuly

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@DryJuly, which raises money for adults living with cancer by supporting organisations involved with cancer research, equipment and treatment, raised over $4m this year through its online and social media marketing. See their beneficiaries here.

It’s a very cool annual campaign with very low effort on the part of the participants and I suggest it has the benefit of growing involvement year on year.

The campaign asks its participants to give up drinking alcohol for a month.  They can just stop there if they like – a great way to have a healthy month.  Most people however would make a donation to get involved and then perhaps raise money from their friends, family and colleagues.

It has a positive benefit for the participants who have an AFM – an alcohol free month – who basically could donate what they would have spent on alcohol during July to the Dry July campaign.

It would be interesting to see how many participants a) join again after the first year – ie their retention rate and then b) whether they raise or donate more money in subsequent years.  I’d like to know what their retention rates are given it is hard for many charities to attract regular donors via online channels.

It may also be a good way to involve men in fundraising – notoriously difficult.  Movember is another annual campaign (the participation requirement I like less as it involves my husband growing even more facial hair!) But I’m sure its successful in this time of trending beards!  This was a fantastic idea started in  2003 by Adam Garone (who sports a most impressive mo’) and the other three co-founders inspired 30 guys to grow a moustache or beard and fundraise for men’s health during the month of November. Now, 10 years later, the campaign runs in 21 countries and in 2012, over a million ‘Mo Bros’ and ‘Mo Sistas’ took part.  Some very hairy people out there! Barbers everywhere rejoice!

I love these innovative, fun and joyful ideas.  They focus very much on the user, the customer, the donor and do not rely on doleful images and sad stories.  Certainly, there is a need for that type of marketing (and many will tell you how well these elements help) but I do love the fun and happiness created by campaigns such as Movember and DryJuly.

Giving up the grog for July made me reflect on my own drinking habits – and that is a good thing. Perhaps its having a similar effect on others – another interesting piece of analysis to consider.

I encourage all of us in the fundraising and NFP sector to look for joyful ways to engage with our ‘customers’ and stakeholders – make them the hero, give them ways to engage that THEY like and watch how they get involved and even show off their participation.  Well done to DryJuly.  Great result.

Want to revitalise your creative juices? Visit your local music store

What do you mean… what music store? I know, so many of them have vanished, eaten up by the e-monster that is that online fruit store but if you can find one (and I’ll let you in on the secret of a few of my favourites as a gift for your kind attention) then you are in for a treat.

Today, I walked around my absolute favourite and came away buzzing with creative ideas. Is it the fact that they have reintroduced actual LPs? With cover art? Joy! Is it the rows of beautiful art books that have recently appeared? Double happiness! Or perhaps it’s the calmness of the music playing and the almost mystical potential of rows and rows of fabulous and enticing CDs? All of this was experienced by me spending 1o minutes (which should have been spent rushing to my parking meter) in a joyful, tactile, friendly, sense-enhancing environment. But for my need not to have a parking ticket (so I have more cash to spend on music) I would have spent more time testing the knowledge of the store manager about whether, really, there is a definitive Ella Fitzgerald collection.

Yes! I know as soon as I buy the CD I’ll upload it and probably never look at the cover again. Yes, I also know that beautiful art book that I covet and think will make a great gift will stay – after purchase – on my own book shelf because, really, let’s face it, no-one else will really appreciate it as much as I do.

As I departed the store with the tips of my toes a few centimetres above the pavement, into the glorious sunshine of a Melbourne late-spring afternoon (before the cool change: Melburnians, you know of what I speak) I fancied I had discovered something new, a place to recharge my batteries and my creative notions.  In fact, it was a trip to the past and also a sign of things to come when we remember WE LIKE SHOPPING IN REAL STORES! So. Just in case you do in fact still have a music store (or for that matter a book store) in your part of town, protect it. Love it. Visit it. And buy things. You wont regret it. 🙂

A few of my favourite music stores:

Thomas Music Store, 31 Bourke Street Melbourne 3000 Ph: (03) 9650 9111 (Actually, this is my No.1 favourite)

Basement Discs, 24 Block Place, Melbourne VIC 3000 Ph: (03) 9654 1110 (Love this underground cave of a store!)

Polyester Records, 387 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy  (03) 9419 5137

Go on … be a slave to the rhythm.

What’s in a name? that which we call a Fundraiser by another name would it be as sweet?

Apologies to Shakespeare… But I’m pondering: Why do we call Fundraisers… well, Fundraisers?  Yes we do the action of raising funds … but that is so much only a part of the end result. What we do more than just raise dollars is build long term relationships and help philanthropists deliver on their own philanthropic goals.

In doing that we must do so much more that is often overlooked in the focus on the bottom line.

If you hire a Sales Person for your sales team, you want certain specific things from them in terms of meeting budget goals and building client relationships.  And clients hopefully are getting a product they want and need in exchange for their cash.

And yet a Fundraiser often must manage more than you’d expect from a sales person and it’s time we found a new description of this much misunderstood role. As a Fundraiser,  if you are to be successful in encouraging others to donate their time, talent and in particular treasure to an organisation, any fundraiser must learn an entire range of skills hidden in the term ‘fundraiser’ .

If you’ve ever met a great Fundraiser then you’d know that we are the sum of many parts. They are often good people managers, good financial managers, have a strong understanding of strategy: can take a helicopter view of a business to understand not just its financial needs but its priorities and urgencies.  They learn how to build long term relationships;  must learn how to recognise a philanthropist’s needs and goals and try to match them with their organisation’s needs and goals. It’s a tricky, sensitive business and one that takes maturity, knowledge and understanding of the role philanthropy plays in any non-profit business’s success.

Perhaps worrying about the title is a red herring. As with many things, it starts with the brief when a recruiter is starting to look for someone who can raise funds.

1. Forget the title: Look for relationship people – that is those who understand other people AND understand money and how it works within a business. 

2. Look for those who understand how to put together a strategic plan and can explain the organisation’s priorities to potential donors.

3. Look for those with a track record – yes, the bottom line does come into it, it’s just not the only thing.

4. Look for a link to your cause. Does the potential recruit really care about what you’re doing.

Just because I started this off looking at the title, I’d like to suggest a few alternative (nice) names for fundraisers:

Chief Relationship Officer; Strategic Prioritiser; Philanthropic Advancer, Bonding Adviser….

Perhaps the US has become more inventive – whatever we call them, fundraisers deliver a very valuable service to our non-profits and I believe it could be time we gave a higher recognition to their varied skills. They bring more to most organisations than just dollars. But as a ‘Strategic Prioritiser’ myself, perhaps I have a bias view. Over to you.