Christmas – the most wonderful time of the year!

christmas tree with baubles

Trees are twinkling under lights and tinsel. Turkey dinners are being planned and prepped. Family and friends are gathering for the holiday festivities.

Unfortunately, Christmas may not be as wonderful if you are one of the estimated 1.3 million women affected by domestic abuse in the last twelve months. Domestic abuse doesn’t stop just because it is Christmas. For those recovering from the trauma of abuse, it can be a dark and difficult time.

Women staying at The Haven often worry about how they will buy gifts for their child, having fled their own homes with nothing, and children can often feel sad that their Christmas looks very different to that of their classmates at school. For many of the families at The Haven, it is the first Christmas they have spent away from their home and family; making it even more difficult.

pexels-photo-257910.jpegAt The Haven we try to provide an authentic Christmas experience for the women and children we support.  At each of our refuges we create a magical grotto, where Mum’s and children can come to choose gifts to take away and wrap for one another. We encourage lots of festive activities too; from Santa visits, to cookie making.

We also like to provide Christmas dinner with all the trimmings. The most important part is that Mum’s and children have the opportunity to spend quality time together, making happy memories over the festive period as they move forward into a life free from abuse.

On most women’s Christmas list are the common things like perfume or pyjamas but for the women we support their list is often very different; they hope for safety and a new start. It’s something that many are looking for as we start a new decade, but it is particularly important for women and children who have been affected by domestic abuse. The Haven every year tries to make Christmas feel special and magical to every woman and child that asks us for help.

glass of milk near christmas present

This Christmas is even more poignant; as we move into a new decade, we start to think about what we want from the future. Women and children in The Haven want a future free from domestic abuse and the trauma they have experienced. So, this Christmas as you tuck into your dinner and pull crackers laughing at the terrible jokes with your family and friends – please take a moment to think about the women and children settling in for a Christmas in refuge.

The Haven takes over 1000 helpline calls every month. Just £2 cover the cost of each call from a woman and her children in dire need. This Christmas, can you spare £2 to help ensure support is available for those who’s festive period may not look as bright?

Donate here www.havenrefuge.org.uk/donate-to-the-haven

 

Do what makes you happy

written by Hayley Powell

Arriving at work it was just like any other day, checking my emails, setting up my team for the day and looking at my day ahead but that was all about to change.

background balance business commerce

I had worked at the bank for all my adult life. I was in my thirteenth year of service. I had developed and grown so much during my time there working my way up to management level.

Little did I know that day this was all about to change. This was the day I was told that my role was no longer required; I was going to be made redundant.

After the initial shock and upset my thoughts quickly raced to what was I going to do. The easy option would have been to apply for another role within the bank but during my time there I had found a real passion for fundraising. I felt it was time for a brave change; a chance to do something I really enjoyed.

donateI had always loved getting involved in the charity events. During the last five years, alongside my manager role, I was the “charity champion” – making all thing’s charity happen across my department and the building. I loved building relationships with local charities and delivering a calendar of events based on what colleagues wanted to do. I took great satisfaction in seeing the event come to life. I loved even more seeing what we had raised for that charity and how much it would help them be there for more people.

So, I didn’t take the easy option, instead I followed my heart and my dreams. Don’t they say fortune favours the brave? Well it certainly did for me. I secured a role as a Community Fundraiser for The Haven Wolverhampton and nothing has ever felt so right.

Now my days are never like any other day; they are quite the opposite but for all the right reasons. When I arrive home from work and my partner asks me how my day has been, he gets a very different reply. A conversation that sticks in my mind is this one…

“It was good” I replied “I have committed to eating some insects to raise money, created a certificate and letter to say thank you to some lovely donors, painted some props for an event, helped promote a few events we have coming up and then helped a lady who came to refuge yesterday with just the clothes she was standing in, I helped her find some clothes and toiletries from the donations we have received, how was yours?”

This is usually the reaction I get followed by a lot of questions.

seriously.jpg

No two days are ever the same. It is a fast paced ever changing environment, with so much to learn and so much to do. Yet it is so much fun along the way and, most importantly, so rewarding to know that the work I do is helping women and children who at their most vulnerable from the abuse they have suffered.

white and yellow roller coaster

When I started my journey as a Community Fundraiser last year nothing could have prepared me for the roller-coaster ride I was about to embark on. I can honestly say I have loved every moment and I don’t want the ride to end!

So, I guess what I am trying to say is don’t just do what feel’s comfortable and familiar do what excites you, what you are passionate about and take every opportunity that you can.

“The doors will be opened to those who are bold enough to knock.”

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Hayley Powell is a Community Fundraiser at The Haven Wolverhampton

The Haven Wolverhampton is a charity that supporting women and dependent children who are vulnerable to domestic violence, homelessness and abuse. You can find them on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn, or visit there website here.

WHAT IS SPEAKING AT THE LARGEST CONFERENCE FOR FUNDRAISERS IN EUROPE REALLY LIKE?

by Susan Booth

The Institute of Fundraising’s National Convention is the largest fundraising conference in Europe and the biggest outside the US, regularly attracting over 2,500 attendees. It’s been a dream of mine to speak there for many years. But for a long time, I thought I didn’t have anything to say. Turns out I was wrong.

AM I REALLY GOOD ENOUGH?

I have had lots of experience of public speaking. From media interviews to golf days to black tie galas, I have no fear of getting up in front of people and talking. But I’ve always had a bit of impostor syndrome about speaking somewhere as prestigious as the National Convention, thinking I didn’t have a big enough project to speak about or didn’t have that undefinable “guru” factor. In addition to that, the charity I work for is quite small and new compared to some of the organisations represented at the National Convention. Target Ovarian Cancer was founded eleven years ago and we turnover just over £2.5million a year.

But we are an organisation with huge ambitions – our vision is to double ovarian cancer survival by 2050.

INSPIRED BY WOMEN WITH CANCER

Last year I had the privilege of working on Target Ovarian Cancer’s first-ever integrated campaign. “It’s time to TAKE OVAR” centred on women with ovarian cancer, researchers and GPs – making them more visible and giving them space to have their voices heard. Every image and came quote came from someone the charity has a direct relationship with. It helped me to see the importance of women taking up space, asserting themselves, being heard, and ultimately using their voice to help change the future for others. It was the obvious choice for us to present on…especially as it achieved such great results.

IT WAS A GAME-CHANGER

The campaign has been a game-changer for Target Ovarian Cancer, bringing in thousands of engaged new supporters. GDPR came in halfway through the campaign and since then we’ve more than doubled the number of people we can contact. The campaign has unlocked hundreds of thousands in pro bono support, and we’ve seen a 30 per cent increase in our digital reach.

SHAKING OFF IMPOSTOR SYNDROME

So, this year I really felt I had a reason to take over the stage – I’m really proud of the “TAKE OVAR” campaign and everything it’s doing to change the future for women with ovarian cancer. But really I should have felt that all along. That’s part of what impostor syndrome does. Shaking it off means becoming more self-assured, more confident in your assertions and in the work you’re doing. I want to encourage all women and non-binary people who may be thinking, as I did, that they have nothing to share. You do. Here are some of my tales of preparing for this speech to help you stage your own “TAKE OVAR”.

STRENGTH IN NUMBERS

My colleague, Alexandra Holden, co-presented with me. We supported each other through the whole process. Having another woman and incredible charity leader alongside me gave me the boost I needed.

PREPARATION IS KEY

We spent days preparing the slides, organising our thinking and practising our delivery. Preparation is key – it will help keep your nerves under control. People notice if you haven’t practised, and it made me feel more confident too. We were lucky to be offered some speaker training with the Tony Elischer Foundation, and followed that up by practising in front of members of our teams to get their feedback.

KEEPING NERVES UNDER CONTROL

I barely slept the night before and on the day struggled to concentrate before our session. We had 45 minutes to present and answer questions, so our script was prepped and ready to go in large font so we could refer to it easily. We also made sure to visit the room before our session – things felt more comfortable once we knew the lay of the land.

WHAT IT’S ACTUALLY LIKE ON STAGE

All the things you think you’ll be conscious of, you’re really not, when you get going. Although we had the notes in front of us I hardly read them. This gave me time to focus on my breathing, body language and intonation. I tried to stand tall with my shoulders back and I caught the eyes of people as I was speaking. Having practised, I knew it didn’t matter if I lost my place in the notes, because I knew by heart where I would be on the page. Everyone in the room looked interested and there were faces I recognised, which definitely helped.

ENDING ON A HIGH NOTE

After we had done a final Q&A session, plenty of people came over for a chat, which was a huge boost. We’ve been asked to speak again by other organisations and we had the most amazing feedback on social media. But my favourite moment was the enthusiastic Convention Volunteer who came to say ours was by far the best presentation they had seen.

BREATHE IT ALL IN

The chance to celebrate and share successes, learning and knowledge whilst practising your presentation skills is important for our core motivation and personal development. When I looked at all the tweets of photos of our presentation I felt proud of what we had achieved, and that all the energy that went into the TAKE OVAR campaign is now having a ripple effect, inspiring other fundraisers to raise more for the causes they’re passionate about. It’s also given us a new network of contacts, leading to new conversations and new inspiration.

Speaking in public is a time to grow your personal brand, talk about something you know and love, and share what motivates you with your peers. Remember everyone in the room will be willing you on. It’s your time to stand up, TAKE OVAR and be heard.

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Susan Booth is the director of development at Target Ovarian Cancer. You can find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

What does fundraising ethically even mean?

by Ruby Bayley-Pratt

The recent Game of Thrones petition to have a disappointing ending re-written by “competent writers” is a beautiful, if frivolous, example of how our relationship with the things we consume has changed. We feel we have not only a personal stake, but a right to challenge and question. And we have the means to do it…

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how supporters would react if, as a sector, we were totally transparent about where our money comes from – particularly when it comes to major donors and corporate partnerships. Whilst there is some research and guidance out there, there doesn’t seem to be a consistent approach to ethics across fundraising and I fear this could cause problems down the road.

In a world where trust in charities continues to decline, ethical consumption is on the rise, and our fundraising thought leaders are stressing the need to move away from transactional fundraising products to values-led supporter engagement, I don’t think we can leave this out of our conversations about the future of fundraising.

The fact that our approach to ethical fundraising across the sector is inconsistent has been acknowledged time and time again. At best, we have a list of industries we won’t work with and a screening process to mitigate against any reputational risk. At worst, we have nothing in place at all and rely on the judgement and, often, politics of individual members of staff.

In my experience, I have found that there tend to be two camps of fundraisers when it comes to this issue: those that believe we shouldn’t take funds which could compromise our mission and our responsibility to wider societal good (assuming we have one) and those who believe that what matters most is that we do good for our beneficiaries* with that money regardless of where it comes from or how we get it (‘robbing the rich to feed the poor’).  There is, of course, nuance in all of this and pragmatically, I think charities should probably position themselves somewhere on a spectrum between the two. That said, if you were to ask me what I truly believe, I struggle to swallow the latter.

Firstly, I think taking money from an industry or individual which undermines your mission – whether that’s through the work they do or the behaviours they demonstrate – does as much, if not more, of a disservice to your beneficiaries in the long-term than taking the money in the first place. For example, at Bloody Good Period, large period product companies are desperate to partner with us and we could make a healthy sum accepting their offers. But these companies play a huge role in perpetuating the stigma and shame which contributes to menstrual inequity – the very social issue we are trying to solve – in the first place. By taking their money, we enable them to continue doing that and make them look good in the process. So, we don’t. And we’re doing alright.

Secondly, I would like to see us questioning how our decisions about how and where we source our funds from are linked to things like climate crisis, gender inequality, and racism. We are increasingly being asked and asking others not to separate themselves from these issues as individuals; should we not be asking the same of our organisations?

Finally, there’s the question of poverty porn – a subject which I could write a whole separate blog about. Time and time again I am told “yeah, but it works”. And I know that’s what the research tells us. But what it ‘works’ at is bringing in cash and the starting point for that is a focus on growth rather than what’s best for our beneficiaries. Much like my first point, my fundamental belief is that the long-term damage of using tactics like this far outweighs the short-term good we can achieve as organisations. Again, at Bloody Good we refuse to use images or stories from the people we work with in our communications or fundraising…

All of the above is my personal opinion. What I would love to know is how charity supporters feel. Do they care if we respond to natural disasters over here but take money from extractive industries over there? Or if we campaign for women’s rights but take money from a reported sexual harasser? I don’t know and I think we might be a little bit afraid to ask them…

 

*I have used the word beneficiaries throughout for ease of understanding but I’d like to categorically document that I hate it. At Bloody Good Period we refer to “the people we work with” instead.

@RubyBayleyPratt

Inclusion in the charity sector: why do we need it?

by Siobhan Corria

I didn’t think twice when I saw a shout out for contributors to ‘Great Charity Speakers’. When founder, Mandy Johnson suggested I write about inclusion and the charity sector, I jumped at the chance. Firstly, a bit of background as to who I am and why I am involved in championing equality, diversity and inclusive (EDI) practice in the charity sector.

A BIT ABOUT ME

I have been the Head of Inclusion for Action for Children for five years. Before taking up this post, I was a local councillor in Cardiff. Prior to that I did a degree in Criminal Justice and Policing, worked as a Case Manager in Youth Justice and a Social Worker for looked after children before entering politics (during which time I was Scrutiny Chair for Children’s Services and education and Cabinet Member for Children’s Services). My interests lie in social justice, inequality and social inclusion.

I have seen women struggle, I have seen that struggle made worse by working within some of the oppressive structures that exist within society.

It was during my two and a half years in politics that I experienced what it was like not to fit a stereotype, to experience a subtle culture of sexism and to not fit in. When I was appointed as Head of Inclusion for Action for Children, I couldn’t quite believe it. I could combine championing diversity and (indirectly) improving outcomes for children, young people and families by supporting colleagues to fully be themselves.

There are not many posts like mine within the charity sector and I don’t think there are any UK wide inclusion posts that are based outside of London. I am based in Cardiff. Diversity tick box #1.

WHY DOES THE CHARITY SECTOR NEED INCLUSION EXPERTS?

We are the charity sector. Surely our values and principles are sound, and we can sleep tight at night. Well, the sector may think its values and principles are sound, but what about its behaviour?

The sector can sleep tight at night because it doesn’t reflect on its behaviour.

It doesn’t have time to reflect, because it doesn’t factor in reflection as a key activity in ensuring excellent services, successful campaigning and lobbying are inclusive and representative of our diverse communities.

THE SECTOR IS COMPLACENT

Managing a diverse, creative, imaginative and innovative team is more demanding because breaking up the status quo is much more difficult than maintaining it. Sometimes, when individuals in the charity sector get where they want and/or need to be, they deviate from disrupting how things stand. Jobs like mine are the conscience in a comfortable sector.

WHY IS EQUALITY, DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION ESSENTIAL WITHIN THE THIRD SECTOR?

Winning contracts, increasing supporters and recruiting and retaining the most talented staff are requirements across the sector, so why is inclusion so important?

An inclusive and diverse working environment is crucial within service delivery so that staff and volunteers feel inspired and supported to develop new ideas and concepts.

When working operationally, it can feel that the emphasis is on meeting key performance indicators, so imaginative, innovative and radical concepts from a diverse mix of employees must be encouraged.

FIVE REASONS WHY INCLUSION IS IMPORTANT

I believe there are five key points that needs to be considered when thinking about the importance of inclusion and improving outcomes for children and young people:

  1. The staff and volunteer complement need to reflect the backgrounds of the children, young people and parents who access the service. This will immediately assist in building trust between the service users and the practitioners.
  2. Practitioners who are supported to be themselves within the workplace will feel more motivated, supported and encouraged to develop creative interventions.
  3. Ensuring and championing the participation of children, young people and parents will create a relationship of confidence and help to ensure interventions meet the needs of individuals and groups within a service.
  4. Staff engagement within the sector must be meaningful and based on wanting to develop pioneering ways of working during the continued period of diminishing budgets. The practitioners on the ground not only know the work and how to make it effective and efficient, but they want to be involved in policy development and new ways of working.
  5. It’s not enough for practitioners who work in service delivery to say they understand equality, diversity and inclusion. Annual objective setting must include specific inclusion objectives, particularly with regards to raising awareness of equality issues within the organisation.

The structural inequality that exists throughout all organisations and society must be regularly highlighted and challenged by those who entered the sector with a passion for improving outcomes.

Siobhan Corria is Head of Inclusion at Action for Children. She is featured on the list of Great Charity Speakers. You can reach her directly via LinkedIn and Twitter.