Welcome to Scunthorpe

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

It appears that our blog suffers from the Scunthorpe Problem.

Apparently, a number people who read us at home are having trouble showing their colleagues the site at work because whoreallygivesatoss contains a rude word. Not toss. Another one.

It’s nowhere near as rude as Scunthorpe’s rude word but it’s clearly enough to get us blocked by a couple of over-zealous filters.

We’re planning to migrate off blogger in the next couple of months which should fix the problem. Until then, please tell your friends that they can subscribe via the link at the bottom of our homepage. Although perhaps you shouldn’t use the word bottom.


Who’s in need?

Saturday, November 15th, 2008

I met with a senior planner on Friday who had just finished working on a large piece of research with a group of doctors. He said that the rise in visits from patients who ‘just felt down’ was noticeable. The suggestion was that the recessionary doom was impacting on our mental state. No surprise I haven’t been jumping with joy recently. But what do you expect when everywhere you turn there’s some miserable commentary on the recession? Apparently there’s a link with negative thinking and brain neurons – too many bad thoughts and your brain actually physically starts changing (or something like that). So I figured that before I turn to the valium I might just stop watching the news.

But I was cheered up that evening watching the BBC’s Children in Need.
If you are a fundraiser in the UK I don’t think you have an excuse for missing it. Not because of its class acts (obviously) but because this would be the first time we would witness in real time what effect the economic downturn would have on public donations and support. It was generally believed that this year would not be the best for Terry.
But Friday night’s show was a spectacular, positive, up-lifting and memorable event. And I think if you were watching you’d have learnt a lot. Because when times are tough people do come together – and in an amazing way. Unbelievably more money was raised that night than ever before.
It seems that rather than ignore the recession we should use it as a way to unite people. Judging by the night’s success and the obvious pleasure felt by hundreds of thousands of people, helping others is a great way of finding respite from the otherwise relentless bad news.
This will be of no surprise to the hardened fundraiser but nonetheless with all the doom and gloom it’s a useful reminder. Perhaps we should talk to those doctors. Maybe they should prescribe a good bit of fundraising before reaching for the happy pills.

Zipping up my boots

Friday, November 14th, 2008

Earlier this week, I had the privilege of pounding the pavements with an outreach team working with street-homeless people. We met up for a bite to eat at seven and for the next five hours odd we walked around the west end talking to people who are sleeping rough.

The evening was fascinating, surprising, harrowing, inspiring, frightening, shocking and revealing. It was also bloody cold. At the end of it, the anonymous and marginalised people we walk past every day had become three-dimensional. And my perception of the lives that they lead had moved from hazy preconception to a chilling reality.

Anyway, I’m not telling you this because I want you all to think that I’m a nice bloke. This is my job, after all, and the whole thing was arranged by Centrepoint as a way to find stories that would make their donors dig deep this Christmas.

I’m telling you because the next day I sat down and wrote an appeal that just seemed to pour out onto the page. And at the risk of sounding immodest, I’m sure it’s going to do very, very well.

It was a valuable reminder of the importance of leaving the office, meeting the ‘real people’ (i.e. the ones who do the work) and getting involved with the beneficiaries. It’s all too easy to moan that we can’t get the stories we need from ‘them in operations’. But the stories are out there if you just get up and look. And they’re the things that make what we do work.

As Kurt Vonnegut once said, “The truth is powerful stuff. People don’t expect it.”