Friday, 31 May 2013


This week's Voluntary Sector Humour courtesy of Greg Karber, exposing the lows of Abercrombie & Fitch's marketing strategy.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Giving Age Gap


Interesting article on The Guardian's Fundraising Hub: How charities can bridge the fundraising generation gap: Charities must use a multi-channel approach to engage with supporters of all ages
• "Matures" (born 1945 or earlier) – give an average of £211.30 per year to 5.3 different causes

• "Baby boomers" (born between 1946 and 1964) – give an average of £153.28 per year to 5.4 different causes

• "Generation X" (born between 1965 and 1980) – give an average of £166.63 per year to 4.6 different causes

• "Generation Y" (born between 1981 and 1991) – give an average of £113.22 per year to 4.6 different causes

Although, it's probably safe to assume that with maturity comes promotion, pay rises, and an increase in giving. There's likely to be a limit to how much you can increase youth giving, especially when so many are currently unemployed. More a case of trying to make sure your charity is one of the 4.6 they support.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Social Media Success

social media strategy for nonprofits 

Nice and visual. Certainly makes the case for growing your social media network in order to raise funds. Perhaps UNICEF should have a read.


Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Social Media Policy

Here's a nice little slideshow on Social Media for nonprofits. 

A while back, I wrote a Social Media Policy for a client, and added it to Our Community's Policy Bank, where you can find a few other useful policies and procedures for Communications.

Hope you find it useful.

Monday, 27 May 2013



I'm always interested in statistics and sources of information. Backing up funding applications with a few facts and figures can really help to prove need, competency and professionalism. 

The other week, I discovered NationMaster. Particularly useful for INGOs and projects occurring cross-continent.

It allows you to compare any two countries on all sorts of things from their economies to internet use, immigration to agriculture, crime and natural disasters.

Prepare to lose several hours of your life to the gods of trivia.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Cross-dressing in Iran

Photos from 

A little bit of subdued Voluntary Sector Humour. This is precisely why I love social media so much. Governments and organisations have a much tougher time bullying and alienating groups of people in private. The world is watching and responding. Wonderful way to protest:

A Web protest has erupted in Iran after a Kurdish man was sentenced to parade down a street while wearing women’s clothing. In an online solidarity campaign, men from across the world have posted photos of themselves cross-dressing.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

What to do in a PR Crisis

This is a must-read for all nonprofit organisations. Sometimes charities can get complacent. After all, who would cause trouble for an organisation doing good for society?

Whereas it's unlikely most of us will ever find ourselves in a position as severe as the Jimmy Savile Trust or Lance Armstrong Foundation, it would be a poor management committee that didn't understand the necessity for some form of disaster limitation protocol.

Referring once again to one of my favourite nonprofit resources, Our Community, make sure you have a copy of this in the office:

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

ServanTek for Joomla

I think I may just be in love with a concept.

At ServanTek, we aim to leverage technology to empower nonprofits like yours to meet the needs of humanity. Whether you're serving in ministry or impacting lives through humanitarian aid, it is our goal to equip you with some useful tools to expand your influence. More importantly, we aim to provide you with the necessary training to make the best use of these tools.

In order for you to make the most of the tools at your disposal, we've put together some basic tutorial videos designed to walk you through some of the features available in the Joomla! CMS, as well as some commonly used components. If you're interested in learning more, consider subscribing to our YouTube channel or following us on Facebook or Twitter.

Want to give back? If you've found our tutorial videos helpful and you'd like to make a contribution to support the work of ServanTek, simply click the donate button above. Thank you for your support!

I don't think that I'm technically savvy enough to give back, but I will most certainly share. 

If you have a Joomla website for your organisation, or if you'd like to consider getting one because it's cheap and fairly easy to manage, this is a great resource.

CMS (just in case you didn't know) stands for Community Management System. In the context most of us need to know it: website content management.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Paperless Office & Freemind

Woman looking over the top of files

After my previous post on working from home, here's a nice article on the shift towards paperless offices:

Do you dream of a clean, paper-free desk, a minimalist haven where you will never have to worry about losing something vital ever again?

There's been a huge shift in the paperless office concept recently. At one time people scanned purely for archival reasons.

Now they make "access anywhere" the main priority. It's often portrayed as easy - scan, shred, relax. However many little obstacles get in the way...

It talks quite a bit about mapping your data, which is something I do to a greater or lesser extent when running strategy workshops.

For those of us that think visually one suggestion is to try Freemind.

It's an open source tool that allows you to map out every step of a given task. For example with receipts it might end up looking like this:

Freemind mind map
Definitely going to check out Freemind, which you can install for free from that link - under Download.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Suspended Coffee

Lovely idea showing how small things can make a big difference. Read the full story on the BBC.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Women in IT

Nice infographic celebrating the contribution of women to IT. You can find the original at New Relic.

Female Nerd Heroes

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

UNICEF Does Not 'Like'

Not overly impressed with the logic behind this:

Rather seems as though UNICEF has fundamentally misunderstood the point of social media.

No, 200,000 likes on Facebook will not, in and of itself, raise money to save lives. However, having 200,000 people connected to your cause via Facebook makes it far more likely that you will be able to spread your message and raise the money you need through the use of Facebook fundraising apps, text giving and crowd sourcing. 

Making people feel inadequate for liking your cause achieves absolutely nothing, other than to get people questioning your overall grasp on social media and how much of that much-needed money you spent on your advertising advisor?

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Army Aid

Aid being delivered in Mali

I thought this was an interesting article:

It is inconceivable that any meaningful aid can be delivered to northern Mali until security is restored there and in the long run that can only be achieved through the government army. 
Whereas the reasons for armies entering countries in the first place may prove controversial, it's hard to deny that aid and infrastructure need civil rest in order to be effective and long-term. When foreign armies leave countries, it's not just the troops on the ground who head home, but also the aid workers: the doctors, the nurses, the teachers, the sanitation officers - unless home security is at such a level as to ensure safety.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

WordPress Plugins


If you use WordPress for your organisation's website, you might like to check out:

Through the last few years we’ve used some WordPress plugins that range from the good, the bad, and the down right shameless. The list that follows are plugins we’ve pronounced (trumpets) as officially rock.

It contains all kinds of wonderful things including plugins to create:

  • Popups
  • Mobile device friendly layout
  • Social media share tracking
  • Virus protection
  • Animated banners
  • Video galleries

And much, much more.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

A Taxing Issue


I've mentioned the lovely Mr. Holmes, Tax Commissioner General for Burundi, before when he was being accompanied to work flanked by body guards.

There's a wonderful radio piece on the BBC World Service where you can hear about his narrow escape from the clutches of kidnappers, and his first international job.

Who said tax was boring?

Monday, 6 May 2013

Animated Banner

Absolutely excellent tutorial on making an animated banner for your campaign website.

GIF example

Friday, 3 May 2013

Terms of Endearment

This week's Voluntary Sector Humour is taken from training I delivered recently. People coming to the Voluntary Sector for the first time, and often from a more business-oriented background, sometimes struggle with the lingo.

Charity is usually a word applied to organisations that are actually registered with the Charity Commission. In Scotland, it's illegal to term yourself a charity unless you are registered, though in other parts of the UK unregistered groups are often happily referred to as 'small charities'. 

To overcome this confusion, there are a couple of other terms applied to small charities:

Me: You can either use the term 'non-profit making organisation' or 'voluntary organisation'. So, what are you?

Client: A non-voluntary profit making organisation.


Thursday, 2 May 2013

Facebook Privacy

There's no point fighting social media. It's here to stay. Whilst at work, staff help to maintain the image of your organisation online. Whilst at home, they're entitled to use it in their own creative and entertaining ways.

What you want to try to avoid are staff personal lives overshadowing public image.

No need to get heavy handed about it, but worth pointing out the following tip at your next staff meeting.

Facebook now allows you to view your profile as though you were a member of the public. This displays everything you haven't set to 'friends only' and gives an idea of what future and current employers see when they look you up.

  1. Top right of your Facebook profile, click the Privacy Shortcuts icon. 
  2. First option: Who can see my stuff? 
  3. Third option: What do other people see on my Timeline?

Click the hyperlink next to that to View As, and you will automatically see your profile through the eyes of the public. 

If there's a little more on display than you realised, you can head back to the above privacy shortcuts, click More Options, and Limit the audience for posts you've shared with friends of friends or Public, which turns all your past posts private. Or you can click on the individual messages and albums that you want to turn private, and do so.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

View of the VolSec

charities impact overheads

Well, those of you looking at LinkedIn lately will notice that Dan Pallotta's TED speech is still generating quite a bit of conversation. It's been picked up by Alastair Sloan on The Guardian's Finance Hub:

Is the way we view the voluntary sector counter-productive to charities?: Judging charities by their overheads and not their impact has become commonplace and is detrimental to the sector

In 2009, a spokesperson for Unite commented on six figure charity chief executive salaries – "I think the general public will be shocked by the scale of the packages that some executives are being awarded. This sector is losing its sense of what real value is." He compared senior management compensation in the third sector with that of City bankers.

That's clearly not the case, given that FTSE100 chief executive salaries rose by 49% last year and charity salaries dropped 3% – to a median of £58,139. Even the best-paid charity chief executives rake in £150,000 – at Barclays the chief executive is earning 75 times the average salary in the UK, a staggering £4.4m last year.

Given that charities are tasked with tackling some of the biggest problems society faces, are we really incentivising the top talent to work for them? Surely the smartest heads will head straight to the private sector where they can earn a small fortune, donate a healthy proportion to charity and call themselves philanthropists. And for those that do opt for a career in charity, is it fair that they are forced to make a lifelong economic sacrifice?

This is certainly a major issue: recruitment and, more importantly, retention of talent. Especially in a sector that relies on sheer good will to plug the gaps in paid positions. The disparity in pay between top brass and office workers will always raise questions regardless of sector, but the amount of unpaid overtime and regular free labour is unique to the Voluntary Sector.