Tag Archives: CASE

Reflections on my 2015

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



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.





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.


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.



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).


More musings on presentations and some updates

Well, what with a busy work schedule getting four mailings (and an email I agreed to do) signed off before the festive break, seeing family, Christmas parties etc I have been pretty busy.  I haven’t even really been running much.  However, I stumbled across a link (retweeted by Garr Reynolds) to another site with an article about speaking with passion.  I investigated the site a bit more closely and found a fantastic infographic post about body language (complete with tips on how to adapt to different situations – asking for a raise, at an interview, making a pitch etc).


But perhaps the most interesting post was on turning a presentation into a story (which we have looked at in previous blog posts).  The blog page tells us that there are, five basic plots/stories:


A hero sets out on a goal, achieves it and then tells us all about their success.  Crucially, in a Quest story you can’t just go home again and carry on as if the Quest hadn’t happened – it must change you or the situation.

Stranger in a Strange Land

Thrown into a new situation which you do not understand, you have to work to understand/be competent in your new environment (and then may well work out it’s not so different after all)

Rags to Riches

You start with nothing (poverty, no power) and through hard work and/or luck, you get richer/more powerful.  They can be similar to Quest stories,  but don’t “end” as such – (a quest has to have an end) so can be useful for people/situations where you have to keep building and building.


A wrong has been done to us/the hero/the company and needs to be avenged – often we need to understand our enemy in order to achieve this.

Love Story

Love, loss and love reestablished (boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back). Both subjects are usually changed by the experience having learned the value of (for instance) commitment, honesty and appreciation.


The article gives examples of the stories (Planet of the Apes as Stranger in a Strange land), relevant situations and even some famous speeches using those ideas, as well as giving us tips on how then to incorporate story elements.  Fantastic!


CASE Update

A week or so ago I posted a brief update on the CASE conference I had just returned from.  The following week, I delivered a presentation to the department on what we had learned, roping in my colleague to deliver one of the slides about a speaker she particularly enjoyed.  To show that I have not totally forgotten everything I learned from 23 Things; I have uploaded the slides to SlideShare* – but I expect they won’t be a lot of use without my accompanying narrative.  Another successful presentation though, which I had positive feedback from the department on!


In other news – I  passed the first part of my Coaching assessment so my guinea pig and I will be working hard in the new year and I did something I have always wanted to do – sponsored a child; a seven year old girl living in rural China. If you are interested, you can read more about sponsoring a child here.


*incredibly easy to use, like bit.ly – I signed in with my LinkedIn account and it worked pretty much instantly.  Terrific!

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.

CASE Spring Institute – sessions

As part of the programme at CASE, you can choose from a number of different elective sessions.  I thought I would take this time to document here, the ones that I signed up for:

Building a culture of giving to education – Joanna Motion

  • The number of donors is increasing steadily every year is giving becoming more normal or is it a response to increasing professionalism in the sector?
  • Across UK universities, average participation is 1.2% but 50% of graduates give to charities.
  • We need to draw out the history of gifts – why it is called X school or X prize or X scholarship. They are good at this in the USA, normalise it!
  • Listen to donor’s motivations, non-alumni gifts are often to places that can deliver or have the reputation.

What happens after you get your gift? Stewarding your donors so they will give again and again and again – Martin Kaufman

  • The systematic and strategic process of thanking/looking after and developing a relationship with a donor which starts with a first gift and hopefully continues for life.
  • Everyone should be stewarded, but it is important to think of ROI.
  •  For major gifts, donor motivations are “belief in cause” at the top, “catalyst for change” is second. Duty comes fourth.
  • Partner with donors, they are citizens not subjects involve them in the process of what you are fundraising for/the plan, don’t just ask them to pay for it!
  • Nobody minds being over-thanked.
  • If you don’t thank, you will be bad-mouthed, damaging your reputation amongst potential donors too.

Making the Most of Yourself – Joanna Motion

  • Soft skills, listening, dressing for your next job, responding/adapting to the audience.
  • PACT Purpose Audience Content Timing.
  • Confidence (real or faked).
  • (I stood up and told the lumberjack story – weird for me as I have never spoken it before, only ever wrote it.) 

Measuring Performance – Jennie Moule

  • Be pro-active about how you wish to measure success, or somebody else will do it for you!
  • Consider what is important to your institution right now.
  • Information should be used to illuminate and not support (ie validate a decision that’s already been made).
  • Benchmark fundraiser ROI – salary in year 1, 3-5x salary in year 2, 5-10x salary in years 3+.
  • ROT – return on talent, manage your best staff as you would your best donors!
  • CASE have a lot of materials that can be used to benchmark

Fundraising for scholarships and bursaries – Mark Curtis

  • Bursaries are means-tested, usually for undergraduates.
  • Scholarships are about competition, usually for graduate study and about attracting the best.
  • Alumni reunion gifts can inspire  – class of ’62 scholarship.
  • Some institutions have a reception inviting donors and recipients.
  • A very personal way to show support as it touches someone in such a personal way.
  • What if a student leaves or is expelled? Importance of telling the donor what is going on!

 Etiquette for Fundraisers – Lorna Somers

  • Name tag on right shoulder so when shaking hands it is in line of sight as you look along the arm.
  • Keep ‘clutter’ to a minimum, no scarf, no drink, no bag (if at all possible).
  • Hand-written thank you notes are simple but extremely well-received.
  • Use someone’s name after they have told you it to try and keep it in your head.
  • It’s ok to eat your bread while you wait for food! It should be torn and only butter the bit you are eating.
  • Nothing should be on the table that wasn’t set there by the server.  Turn your name-card away once seated, have stanchions removed by the server once you have found your table
  • Getting into a car in a skirt? Bum down and swivel, reverse to get out.

You can see why I was so exhausted afterwards!

CASE Spring Institute

A few weeks ago, as April drifted into May, I was privileged enough to attend CASE Spring institute.  For those unaware, CASE stands for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.  They have offices in Washington DC, London, Singapore and Mexico City.  They focus on Advancement – alumni relations, fundraising and marketing & communications.

Spring Institute is an intensive week long conference run every year and aimed at fundraisers.  2014 was hosted in Loughborough.  I didn’t see any of the city at all, but the hotel and the University are magnificent.  I drooled over their sports facilities!

CASE attract some magnificent people to volunteer and deliver sessions at their conferences.  Joanna Motion, who recently produced a report on the HE philanthropy workforce in the UK, Bob Burdenski (annual fund guru), Lorna Somers (Queen of Major Gifts), Mark Curtis (New College, Oxford).

Jennie Moule, of University College London, was my tutor for the week.  A good match; she is not a front-line fundraiser either, but works on data, prospect research, stewardship etc.

What did I learn?  A lot!

  • That I should have more confidence in my own abilities (I know a lot more than I thought – hence starting this blog)
  • Giving motivation is a combination of head and heart.  In HE we need to focus on the heart – no-one will starve if we don’t get that £5 a month gift, so we need to think about how to motivate people in a different way
  • Talk about impact, not about need.  No-one wants to hear a sob story in HE.  People give to success.
  • Etiquette (a bit hard to demonstrate on a blog – invite me to dinner, I will wow you! 😉 )
  • You are wasting your institution’s money if you do not steward your donor
  • A first gift is very different to a second/third/repeated gift and should be responded to in a different way.  Retention is very important.  The “muddle in the middle” – not the Major donors, or the non-donors
  • Don’t necessarily exclude people from campaigns because they have given a recent gift

Various other things fired off little synapses in my brain getting me thinking about segmentation, KPIs and upcoming projects.  Can’t wait to get started!