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Maybe we should all be more Owl

Maybe we should all be more Owl

10 points Richard Sved learned from day two of Fundraising Convention, 2016.

1. Think about how well we reflect our communities


In a packed discussion about what the EU referendum result means for charities, Karl Wilding asked the audience why we were surprised by the result. Is it because we don’t reflect the communities we serve well enough? Food for thought.

2. We must speak out now

In the same session, Angela Kitching reflected that charities were hamstrung by the Charity Commission guidance in the run-up to the vote. But we know the needs of our beneficiaries, and we owe it to them to speak out now.


3. We will get through this

And Caron Bradshaw argued that whatever the storm charities are heading towards, we will get through it. We always do. We’ve been doing it for centuries, she argued.


4. Fundraisers like to sing, apparently

It was fascinating to attend Beth Breeze’s sneak preview of her findings from her large study of ‘The New Fundraisers’. There were some interesting facts that may not have surprised us too much, for example that we are mainly female. However, it was interesting to discover how much more likely we are to be community-minded – to give blood, to sing in a choir, to have hobbies. Is there a danger that we will continue to recruit ‘people like us’?


5. Legacy fundraisers are finely tuned… emotion-reading machines

Beth found that legacy fundraisers were the most finely attuned to the emotional expression and body language of others. It could be said they’re in the right job, because they have got to be especially attuned to sensitivities.


6. Maybe we should all be more Owl

In his entertaining session on the personal effectiveness track, Matthew Sherrington took us through a range of helpful animal-based analogies. Are we rhinos (charging in) or hedgehogs (curling up) when we face conflict? How politically aware and organisation-focused are we? If we’re high in both we’re owls, and if we’re low in both, we may be donkeys, who “don’t really know what’s going on”.


7. Recruiters focus on attitude

When we head to interviews, we might normally assume it’s going to be our skills and knowledge that people look for when they’re hiring, but those can be more easily developed. The attitude is what will get us the job, Matthew told us.


8. Clock off at a reasonable time

What example do we set our team if we can’t pay attention to ourselves? If we’re shattered, what help are we anyway? Go home at a reasonable hour, and our teams will look after themselves too. This is the new workplace of the 21 st century.

9. We need to pay attention to the opportunities of Virtual Reality


Ade Cockle gave his audience at the #NFPtweetup session a brilliant whistle-stop tour of the increasing opportunities that Virtual Reality holds for the charity sector, with examples from RNLI, Cancer Research UK, UNICEF and the Natural History Museum. As this technology gets more and more accessible, we need to be on it!

10. The #Unconvention is a great way forward

I attended two sessions in the ‘Unconventional’ track in the first two days, and they were both excellent. Let’s hope these type of sessions continue to be offered, because they provide an excellent counterpoint to the ‘normal’ seminars that are ‘conventionally’ offered. Pun intended.


Richard Sved has worked and volunteered in the charity sector for over 20 years. Prior to setting up his own company, 3rd Sector Mission Control, he led the fundraising function for two national charities. He is also an NCVO consultant, and was recently interim Head of Fundraising at Epilepsy Society and Education Support Partnership. Richard's key strengths lie in charity strategic planning, income generation and communications. He blogs regularly about the charity sector at

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