The third sector has been riddled with bad press of late. Sadly, mud sticks in our industry; taking far longer to become yesterday’s ‘fish and chip’ paper.
The public put their trust and hope in charities – helping to do good, to improve and empower those less fortunate. Donations, whether they are monthly direct debits, ad hoc telephone contributions or postal offerings, make a huge difference to the world we live in. Donors know this, they take pride in the fact they’ve donated. They are taking a stand – however big or small.
Yet, one piece of bad press for one organisations can cast a shadow of doubt over all charities; especially when that bad press is focused around the very people donors, and volunteers, put their faith in – the people at the top. So what can CEOs do? Well, in my opinion they must take ownership and practice what they preach!
As CEO of Purity Fundraising I am a firm believer in practicing what I preach. As too are my amazing team of fundraisers. If you don’t live it and breathe it you won’t be part of our Purity family.
This family runs on integrity and quality - collaboration between the management and the fundraisers. We love what we do – it’s more than just a job for us, it’s a way of life.
It’s this huge belief in ourselves and our team that means we are the first telephone fundraising agency that actually offers shares in the business. 10% of Purity is now owned by staff which has a positive impact on staff retention and innovation – when we talk about Purity being a team effort it’s not just giving lip service to the concept; the culture is one of openness, collaboration and cooperation and every single team member has a voice. Together we have created our own community driven action campaigns.
This innovative share scheme is a win, win. Not only for Purity but importantly for our clients. They get the real sense of the passion we have for fundraising. Working for some of the most well-known charities in the country, as well as smaller causes, our commitment is the same and we treat every client and their donors equally.
And that’s not all. When I founded the business, now nearly 9 months ago (how time flies!) I didn’t just sit at my desk and create a vision statement. I wanted that vision to be a true reflection of what we all wanted to be as a company, how we wanted to treat our clients and their supporters with respect and also reflect just how committed we were to ensuring a positive and healthy environment for everyone who works here. How valued our fundraisers are. Again, practicing what I preach saw me involve my team every step of the way.
As such I carried out a questionnaire and feedback session, asking what a charity’s key values should be, how we felt as fundraisers. What empowers us? What makes us different? By involving my team in this way they take ownership, which increases productivity and job satisfaction.
I can’t advocate this practice enough. Involve your staff. Make them feel appreciated, that they matter. Small gestures create big differences. Let your team know that you aren’t afraid to get your hands dirty. That you wouldn’t be asking them to do anything you wouldn’t be prepared to do yourself. Practice what you preach!
Integrity is key to successful fundraising, now even more so. We need to eradicate the bad feeling or nervousness donors may have. We need to earn back their trust. This can only be done with truthfulness, reliability and honesty. This starts at the top.
The vast majority of charity CEOs have this quality and integrity. Yet we need to shout it from the roof tops. Reinforce our practices for all to see. We need to be seen to practice what we preach.
Driven by passion and commitment to make a difference and to make a change, Helen Mackenzie, Founder and CEO of Purity Fundraising, and Trustee to Kicking Off, is available for comment on third sector issues.
Contact Purity Fundraising on 01273 443954 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org