Yep, we’ve already tried that….

If you’ve been on your board for a long time, or had a small team with the same people, then chances are you know and trust each other really well. Which is great. Until someone new comes along. Then chances are you feel like they don’t know as much as you, or they’re going to make changes where they’re not needed and really why try something else, when this already works.

Unwittingly you can send off the vibe of being in a clique.

I don’t mean aka ‘Mean Girls’ or that you don’t listen to anything new said,  but potentially and subtly (or perhaps not so!) you discourage any new ideas or ways to do this. Cue eye roll.

And of course you’ve put in the hard yards. You’ve done all the hard work when there was no money and you had to walk 10 miles in snow to school (no wait that’s another story!), and no one knows better than you what works and what doesn’t.

And then in comes someone new. And they may even want to try new things or heaven forbid, actually question the process or offer suggestions.

Really? Do they not know their place?

I mean we’ve already tried this, and we’ve spent weeks, no months, coming up with this way to do things. Can’t they just do what they are told? Is it not their job to just help us continue to do what we know has already worked?*

Of course we want new people on board. And yes we know we need them.  But can’t they  just slip seamlessly into the way we have set up things. And can they stop asking questions about everything, and just accept that we’ve found the best way to do things.

No they can’t. Because, really deep down, this is why you asked them to join the board, become a volunteer, or work in your team. 


Yes you want them to just do what they need to do. But you also deep down know that at some stage, you were that new person. You were the one with the enthusiasm and new ideas.

And nothing will sap the life out of a new addition to your team than you constantly shutting down their thoughts, ignoring them or not sharing information. They will feel undervalued and unable to make a difference. They may even feel unliked. And that’s the last thing you intended. You were just super busy and wanting to get the job done.

But, particularly in not for profits where resources are limited, you need to nurture your board, your volunteers and your team. You need to be less possessive and more open to new ideas. Hell, they may even work. Especially if you throw your support behind them.

And no, they’re not all going to work. And some of them won’t work because you haven’t supported them. But what if, just once or twice, you tried the new way….and it was actually better? Or it raised a shit load of money? For the organisation that you LOVE and are passionate about. Who wins then?

We are all guilty of thinking our way is the best way. And often it is. But, yes sad but true, we don’t know everything and the wisest and most successful of us realise that and EMBRACE it.

So go with it. And pick them up when it fails and support them. No eye rolling. No, I knew this would be the case. Why? Because don’t you wish someone had done that for you?

And the more people with ideas that join your ‘island’, the more development and growth you can make for the cause. But you are the foundations, the backbone, and your knowledge and your guidance is key to success.

With a little help from your friends, both old and new.

*Einstein’s definition of insanity. Doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.

Fundraising – are you in, or just dipping your toes?

I’m sure it’s a familiar scene to many. The board or the boss decides you need to ramp up sponsorship, corporate partners, donations, bequests, etc etc (insert magic pocket of money here). They set a timeline, generally a few months because how hard can it be – don’t you just get on the phone or send out a letter and everyone puts their hands up to support you, and then they either do one of two things.

1. They completely forget about it until the deadline comes around and then express disappointment in you, your team, the economy, your supporters and the world in general or

2. They can’t keep out of it and want to sign off every communication, change things and tell you it won’t work that way because that’s not the message of the organisation, that people won’t respond to your approach because it’s been done before and essentially they just want a reprise of what’s been done before because we don’t want to upset (insert one or two donors or friends of the organisation who have barely given but know everything).

The Board of Directors were unsure about Marvin. Somehow, they knew he was the sort of employee who would want to do things differently.

Clearly I exaggerate (well hopefully I do, otherwise I feel sorry for you and your teams!) but often we are faced with as many challenges internally, if not more, than we are externally in the market. And it’s hard because often these challenges come from senior executives who are used to being right and subtly can change things that will have a damaging flow on effect in your ability to raise money and support.

So how do you overcome this?

You need to allocate as much time and effort into your campaign for your internal buy in as you do in researching and tailoring your message for your prospective sponsors and donors. If your board is not on board, then you’re already five steps behind.  Give them all the facts, send them examples of similar campaigns, build up a file of articles that you can pull out when needed to reassure them that you’re not going off on some random tangent.

Identify key people in your organisation and get them excited about your campaign, get them talking about what you’re trying to achieve, make sure they understand the science of what you’re doing. Take all that wonderful networking you do on the outside and replicate that with the people who work at the service end of your charity or not-for-profit and they will advocate upwards and outwards. As this momentum builds, so will the swell of support and confidence.

Good Luck!