Thursday, 24 January 2013

The Summit – It’s not for girls (apparently)

So you may have seen this on twitter – many of you may have commented on it on twitter – Giles Pegram CBE and Professor Adrian Sargeant have set up something called The Summit. It is a one day event which will ‘change the rules of fundraising’. Exciting stuff I am sure you will agree. The list of speakers (as well as including Giles and Adrian) is:
  • Ken Burnett
  • Alan Clayton
  • Pesh Framjee
  • Tod Norman
  • Bernard Ross
  • Joe Saxton
  • Kevin Schulman
  • Professor Jen Shang

Now a great list of speakers and I genuinely mean that. I have seen many of them speak over my years in fundraising and they are all inspiring, interesting, creative people that have contributed masses to the charity sector. However there are two things that jump out of me at this list: 

1. Where did all the women go?
Could they really only find one woman to speak? (and a great speaker she will be). As a sector that was described as ‘refreshingly equal’ (thank you @Kirsty_C for pointing me in the direction of the Civil Society article "Where did all the women go?") , it is disappointing to see so few women speaking at an event like this. 

Where are we all? Sitting in the audience, presumably. 

When questioned about this, Giles responded that he doesn’t believe in quotas (in a very nice polite open to discussion way. I don’t want to turn him into the next Suzanne Moore and get him hounded off twitter by feminist rage).

However what I don’t understand is, in a sector that is ‘refreshingly equal’ why do we need a quota? Surely we should be there on the stage by now? Many have argued that in 10 years time, we will see the progress and we’ll be asking ‘where have all the men gone’. But I feel like this ‘in 10 years time’ line has been around for, well, at least 10 years. 

If we don’t start to see more strong female voices in the sector soon I fear all we will see in 10 years time is more men saying ‘don’t worry, in 10 years.....’

2. Where did all the actual fundraisers go?
If you are going to ‘change the rules of fundraising’, don’t you need some actual fundraisers there? Again I am not trying to knock the people talking. I have a lot of time and respect for all of them and have employed the services of several but surely you need some people actually working in fundraising right now at this very moment  speaking?   

It isn’t the same consulting, advising or generating insight as sitting in a charity office, day after day, knowing your donors, knowing your beneficiaries and knowing your staff. Am not saying that consultants, professors and drivers of ideas don’t have a place at this kind of summit – of course they do - but to have no one on stage that is actively at the frontline of fundraising seems both a waste and kind of pointless. 

Which brings me to the solution. Half of fundraising directors in the UK are now women. More fundraisers at this kind of event would probably mean more women. So who needs quotas anyway?

Kathryn Brooke


Monday, 21 January 2013

Roxy Does Plumpy

So, after deciding to do the Plumpy’Nut challenge for Merlin (find out more here), I thought I’d write a little about the experience and some reflections on the day.

To be honest I knew I wouldn’t find it easy. For those who know me, it’s pretty obvious I like my food far too much. And therein lay one of the main reasons for taking part. Could I, who moans far too regularly about what to have for lunch and dinner, be able to cope with eating just four sachets of Plumpy’Nut for a day?

So, could I? Actually, the answer is yes. And no.

Yes: I didn’t cheat at all. Nothing passed my lips except Plumpy’Nut and water. Not even an extra strong mint. Even when I got home, was on my own, and nobody would be any wiser.

No: I couldn’t manage the four sachets. I only had two and a half all day. It was too sweet, too dense, the texture was horrible, and it wasn’t FOOD.

And the ‘no’ made me think. Who am I to complain about these sachets? How dare I not eat all of them? Texture? Too sweet? How lucky I am to be able to complain about these things.

My Plumpy’Nut day coincided with the UK ‘snowpocalypse,’ where everything grinds to a halt because of the white stuff. It forced me to reflect from very early on in the day. 

A few ‘Plumpy’ notes and reflections

1. As I huffed and puffed at the station this morning because I was late for work, it struck me that I have a job to go to. A job that I love. A job that gives me great satisfaction. And I go to work on a train, in the warm, from my lovely flat that has central heating, clean running water and decent sanitation. The kids that eat Plumpy’Nut don’t have that.

2. People really can be very sweet. I’ve had lovely messages from friends and family supporting me whilst I do this challenge. And some bloody funny ones. Doing it with other work colleagues helped the day pass by. But my favourite moment was at the station this morning. When I asked the coffee lady for a cup of hot water, I explained why and what I was doing; she looked at me and handed me £5 sponsorship.

3. How blasé we can be about food and what we have. I think we know it, and we laugh ‘ironically’, but it has helped me realise. When I sat and discussed how much better the hot water would be with a slice of lemon, and someone suggested ginger, and then someone offered a Ginseng & Hibiscus tea bag….well, it makes you think.

4. I have a headache. And I feel weak. To be blunt, I have quite a store of fat I can pull upon to sustain me. But if I feel like that, after just one day, how do the children who really need Plumpy’Nut feel?

5. Perhaps the biggest realisation for me is that there really are a lot of places to buy and consume food. A lot. I caught the bus home (to avoid the train annoyance) and I lost count of large supermarkets, smaller shops, fast food restaurants, other restaurants, cafes. The list is endless. Food really is abundant here.

My day is nearly over. I’m having an early night and getting up tomorrow for breakfast. Out of all the food in the world what I want now, more than anything, is a bowl of porridge and honey.....

Thank you, thank you, thank you

PS Of course I haven’t forgotten to thank everyone who has sponsored me (like any direct marketer, I know you’ll all skip to the PS!). You’re all amazing. It’s knowing I’ve raised almost £800 (yes, really!), that has stopped me from cheating. I know this money will be wisely spent by Merlin. Thank you.

PPS And of course, if you haven’t sponsored me yet – it’s not too late ;-)

Danielle Atkinson

Friday, 4 January 2013

Piss off "poverty porn"

So, it’s been a while since this charity chick has blogged. Not very good is it? We’ve been very busy at work – year end, numbers, results, saving and changing lives. You know the score eh?

Then I read this article on the BBC website.

I reacted instantly. Incredulity, anger, disbelief, horror, fury. They were the initial responses. I hoped that after a while I thought I might feel less about it, or care less. So I read it again today after Christmas to see if my feelings had changed.

If anything, they are stronger. After a fortnight of gluttony, family, love, friendship and a roof over my head – all those things I am lucky to have – I actually find this article more offensive than ever.

As a fundraiser I am proud of what I do. And I’m proud of the way in which I do it. If I need to shock people into giving I will. If they feel guilty about this – that’s their problem. This is the all too real situation in which the people we work with are living in.

Certainly in my experience, it tends to be the white middle-class people working remotely who have an issue with ‘poverty shock advertising.’ They want to portray people with ‘dignity’ and consign this imagery to the dustbin. They bandy about the phrase ‘poverty porn,’ and try and make fundraiser’s feel the same guilt they do.

But when I speak to my colleagues who work in country, and who are from that country, they tell me; “This image is fine. It’s what it’s like out here. That’s what our children look like in this area.” They send me images like this to use. 

So I do. And they say ‘thank you’ when we raise the money that means that less children will face this horrible situation.

For me, what I’d like to see consigned to the history books, right alongside this article, is this patronising attitude that only serves to denigrate the profession that I am proud to be in. 

(The initial blog post contained swear words, and a less measured response. I’m still f*****g fuming).

Danielle Atkinson