Category Archives: Fundraising

Reflections on my 2015

2015 was a pretty huge year for me, some lessons I’ve learned and some highlights are below.

 

Work

In January 2015 I ran/led my first direct mail campaign (of course I have been involved with them before but this one was my baby as I was head of the team at the time) with my team and we smashed all previous records raising over £250k with an impressive ROI. I still can’t quite believe I did this and I think it will certainly be one of my proudest work-related achievements for many many years.

In 2015 I have had the pleasure of having two terrific bosses who I have learned a lot from and have taught me so much. Although I am no longer managed by either, I still talk to them both and trust that our relationships will continue for many years. What is particularly interesting to me is that one of these people taught me that sometimes things happen for a reason and I shouldn’t let “now” get in the way of what is really important to me. I dreaded his arrival as he was to be the permanent solution to my “acting up” role – it turned out it was pretty much the best thing that could have happened, I loved my time “acting up” but, deep down, I didn’t really want to be designing mailings and liaising with printers and designers, I just thought I did because that was the opportunity that was there and was being threatened. I’m now much happier in a new role with a direct report to line manage and much more scope to play with and do cool stuff with data.

 

Speaking

Wow.

Toastmasters

I joined my local Toastmasters branch in May and have never looked back.

I decided to enter my first proper contest, Humorous Speech, starting out at the Club level in September. I won that and moved to the Area where I won again and advanced to Division level, which necessitated a trip to Bristol. After unexpectedly winning here (and being the first person in my club to get to a District final in HS since 1999), I then won the District final becoming District 91 (UK South) Champion.

Selina Jones at District Contest - Nov 15

I hope to write more about the experience in the near future.

Conferences

Having attended a number of CASE conferences as part of my job, I set a long-term goal at the start of 2015 to speak at one. Little did I know that by the end of 2015, I would have spoken at two!

I formed part of a panel (on solutions to problems) at the Development Services conference held in Birmingham in October. I was disappointed with my performance at this panel – having expressed an interest in speaking on it in June, I wasn’t told until late September that I was wanted (I assume someone dropped out) which meant I didn’t have much time to prepare what I was going to say (let alone remember what my original idea which I thought had been rejected had been). A panel session also meant using a mic behind a lectern. Ugh.

My other slot came at the Regular Giving conference in December (which I had attended in 2014), this year held in Leeds. I had been paired with someone I hadn’t met from UCL to talk about our approaches to predictive modelling. We had a couple of phone conversations and I was able to travel up to London to meet him face to face and do a dry run through the week before (thanks to going to a West End show!).
I was happy with my performance at this conference, I came up with some good slides, had prepared what I was going to say and had some terrific feedback from someone in the industry who I greatly admire who attended my session @adriansalmon  and from the Conference Chair herself.

 

Running

My greatest achievements were at the start of the year – getting two 20 mile PBS in March, managing to duck under 3 hours in Oakley 20. After an incredibly disappointing 8th marathon (which led me to write this post) – I finished in 4:50:48 – so in effect it took me nearly two hours to run a further six miles! Stupid marathons… I didn’t do that much running for the rest of the year.

I had an enjoyable half marathon in June where I supported a stranger to complete their first ever half in 02:01:58 (and wrote about it here). I also completed Oxford half again in October completely untrained having not run longer than 4-5.5 miles at a stretch a maximum of twice a week, I managed to finish in 01:57:35 which, I was actually pretty pleased with. I ran most of it with my neighbour and I drove us there as well so it was nice to have some company.

I tried another Men’s Health SOTF which I had loved so much the previous year, but sadly it coincided with the only cold week we have had this winter (in November) and I could barely use my hands let alone climb. I don’t think I will be back, it’s not worth the risk of another freezing cold day (I’ve got nothing against running in the cold, it’s the obstacle side of it that means I can’t do it, if I can’t feel my hands I can’t climb or pull myself anywhere).

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Forays into crowdfunding

Until recently, I hadn’t done any crowdfunding. I was aware of it, but there was too much other stuff keeping me busy. Then, one evening on the One Show, I heard all about a project called Chicken Town – a not for profit social enterprise designed to help local people in Tottenham by providing a healthier (and tastier) alternative to fried chicken and chips, subsidising lunch time offerings to local children and providing training and employment (paying local living wage) to locals.

It sounded brilliant so after a few google searches, I managed to find it on Kickstarter and made my pledge. The target was £50k and I must admit, I was doubtful at times if they were going to make it or not. The publicity on the One show was brilliant, but, the One show didn’t give any links or a definite “call to action”. I’m sure a lot of people watched and thought “that sounds great”, but as they weren’t given a website link or an emphatic call of “please pledge your support”, they did nothing about it. A bit of a missed opportunity.

Getting closer! If you’ve not yet pledged support for @CHICKENT0WN now is the time! http://t.co/hjDJr3ccSi

One of the features of the Kickstarter website is that you can set reminders so you are emailed when a project has 2 days to go – this means a lot of projects will see a rush of donations in those last two days as people are notified and (finally) get their wallets out.

They made it, with 700 backers pledging a total of £55,000 (their goal was £50,000). It was exciting and I followed them closely as the deadline came and I became more nervous that they wouldn’t make it. Phew. I am really excited about Chicken Town and can’t wait to hear about its progress. I shall also be making a detour to Tottenham next time I am in London!

Card games

As I had by now set up a Kickstarter account etc, i thought I would look and see what other stuff there was that I could get involved in. I was interested in physical board/card games, based in the UK (so I wouldn’t get stung on postage and most pledges say “ships to USA only”). I stumbled across this – Lords of War game:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/388956994/lords-of-war-fantasy-battles/widget/video.html

It looked fun, professional (lots of funny videos on how to play the game), they had had previous success and I could get a game for a pledge of £13 as well as any extras that were unlocked, whatever those may be ( there were a lot!). The Kickstarter was to hep them raise money to get a new expansion deck printed, but you didn’t need this to play the game and I decided to do without it this time (maybe if they do a KS for Templar & Undead expansion pack, I will jump in!).

I tweeted about this a lot and there are now a few people I follow because they responded and joined in with me on the tweeting. Kickstarter also has a comments section (that only those who have pledged can post on) which was very busy, giving a real sense of community – and you could also spot people from twitter on there.

The Lords of War staff themselves also gave frequent updates as emails and as tweets for fans to retweet and spread the word:

It was all very exciting and really fun. LoW had set up numerous stretch goals (the funding asked for for the project to go ahead was £8,000) at £9k, £10k, £11k, £12k etc as well as at numbers of backers (250 and 500 – didn’t think we’d get to 500!). As well as providing more bounty for faithful backers (and getting people like me to up their pledges as I realised I was getting free booster cards for sets I didn’t have!), this provided opportunities for them to tweet, get publicity and reinforce the message. LoW also had numerous card game shows and conventions and stuff going on at the same time which of course all helped spread the word.

The campaign ended with £22,845 of the £8k target raised with 559 backers pledging support. Made me feel excited and part of something – which is what Crowdfunding is all about really.  I am now sitting by the postbox, awaiting my cards….

Stats

I posted a comment on LoW hoping that they would be doing a through analysis of stats (depending on what they get from Kickstarter) to work out what worked and when the big jumps in pledges came in. Someone posted me to a site called kicktraq which basically shows you stats and pledges over time. A really useful, fun site. So lets have a look.

Lords of War stats
Lords of War: Fantasy Battles -- Kicktraq Mini
They averaged 18 backers and 17 comments a day, with an average £ of £737.
148 people pledged on day 1 and then the next highest jump was 2 days (71) and 1 day (60) before the close (it actually closed at 8:45am on May 10th which is probably why there weren’t many on the 10th itself). I love that it shows you data on comments too.

Chicken Town stats
Chicken Town - Tottenham -- Kicktraq Mini
They averaged 24 backers, 1 comment and £1,855 a day. Nearly £10,000 came in on the penultimate day (April 22nd) – told you it was a bit nerve-wracking at the end there!
Chicken Town appeared on the One Show on April 10th – but this day only saw 14 backers and just over £1000 and the 11th was just 6 and £120. I think the One show definitely could have done more to help.

 

But what a fantastic adventure for me.

Live Tweeting

I have been having some fun on Twitter this last week (you can tell as I have also gained 20 followers this week) and have even got involved with a couple of Live chats.

The first was a Thursday night (well, 10pm GMT) #DataTalk discussion which I found out about via Klout – which is another thing I have been playing about with too (more on that later).  The topic was “What is a data scientist?”

Here is my tweet which retweets a Storify of the chat.

It was good fun, though as I was participating on my phone tucked up in bed (it was late ok), the refresh rate wasn’t very speedy and I seemed to be always a few tweets behind.  I found some new people to follow and have boosted my followers too, great stuff.  #DataTalk live tweets happen every other Thursday (I have set up a recurring appointment in my calendar, sad I know) – the next one is on Trends in Big Data and Challenges on Thursday May 7th; no questions up yet, but they do tend to list them in advance which is extremely helpful. I will definitely be participating in the future (bedtime permitting); hopefully more people will get involved in the future but wow, the hour just flew by!

Then on Friday 12pm-1pm I participated in #FRTweets – tweeting about fundraising; this time the topic was careers advice. A colleague of mine often participates in FRTweets so, after my Thursday night success thought I would give it a go.  One person had very similar views to me and I ended up following her and we got into a bit of banter after the London Marathon about cycling V running gear, which was pretty funny.

Recognition

Thrilled to receive a Recognition award at work for my “Acting up” and our success in the telethons and direct mails.

award certificate

My certificate

It was also wonderfully timed at the staff meeting where I presented on the outstanding success of our recent annual appeal (using my new slide clicker toy complete with laser pointer) which featured a Star Wars theme and some odd slides like these.

CASE Regular Giving Conference

In early December I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the CASE annual conference on Regular Giving.  I have been to a CASE conference before – the Spring Institute which was earlier (umm, in spring) this year.

So, on Tuesday night myself and a colleague got a slow train to Manchester to the Marriott Victoria and Albert hotel, arriving about 8pm on Tuesday – too late for dinner, but early enough to catch some of the speakers and attendees in the bar.

My suite – view from the door

The first surprise of the conference was when we turned up to check in – due to the number of rooms and what-not, my colleague and I were going to be in suites.  Wow.  Sadly, as is typical with CASE things, the schedule is so packed you barely get any free time at all (and what free time I did get in my room was spent searching my tremendous room for something I had just put down and forgotten where in the enormity of it all) – but I made sure I turned on my living room TV once and sat down on the sofa so I could say that I had done it.  I doubt I will ever be in a suite again!

suite - bed and column

Bedroom – I even had my own column

The CASE Regular Giving conference starts with an opening plenary on the Wednesday morning (after registration) at just after 10 with the last session finishing at 6pm – it’s a pretty full day, Thursday kicks off at 8:15 with breakfast roundtable discussions and then finishes at 5pm.  Sessions are a mix of plenaries that everyone attends, or workshops where the programme splits in two – fundamentals and innovations (I think this is similar to the CASE Development Services conference too).  There were also two showcase sessions (one each day) with a choice of two, allowing some of the suppliers/sponsors to give a 45 minute talk.  It was great to take a colleague along because it meant we could attend the full programme between us.  There had been a pre-conference on the Tuesday with two streams – one about crowdfunding and one about setting up a Regular Giving programme, but we did not attend.

I will follow-up in a later blog post with what I learned and what sessions I attended (as I did at Spring Institute), but I had been really looking forward to seeing Adrian Salmon from Leeds (his blog is here and twitter feed here) he was doing a number of sessions and I also wanted to chat to him in general.  Sam Davies who was at SI was also going to be there, delivering one of the last elective sessions.  Sadly Bob Burdenski was unable to be there; his plane was cancelled due to the bad weather in America – a real shame.
In fact, there ended up being a big group of delegates from my Spring Institute – it was great to catch up with everyone and see how people had grown in experience, confidence and knowledge. Extremely heartening for the future.