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The Dying Man and the Loch: a salute to Stephen Sutton

Imagine that a dying man comes to a Scottish loch, determined to create one last thing of beauty before he passes from this world. He carefully chooses a stone from the loch side, measures his strength, sets his sight on the opposite side, and throws. But he does not just throw this stone. He lofts it – with such grace, that the ensuing chain of ripples spreads out, not only across the entirety of the loch, but far out into the sea beyond.

It would seem that Stephen Sutton is about to leave us. His family have posted on his Facebook page to say that his condition has now seriously deteriorated. We do not know how long he may have left.

But in the last year, Stephen has accomplished something truly astonishing. He becomes the apotheosis of a series of people over the last few years – Claire Squires and Christian Smith, to name just two other examples – who in the manner of their dying have inspired hundreds of thousands of people to acts of kindness, and raised millions for charity.

They have shown that fundraising and charity is not just a matter of life and death, but penetrates to the matter of it.

All of us who fundraise are engaged in some way in the meaning of what it is to be alive, whether we work to help prevent untimely or painful death, or whether we work to provide and support all the things that will enhance life and make it more beautiful and precious, for the short and unpredictable time that is given to us all.

Claire and Christian could not see what their deaths have accomplished, but I am so very happy that in return for his efforts, Stephen has been given the gift of seeing the effect of his courage, kindness, and nobility in the face of pain and suffering, on hundreds of thousands of people who otherwise would never have known of him. His pride in his fundraising, his desire to encourage others to follow him, and the grace of everything he has written, have been an amazing inspiration to me, and I have worked in fundraising for nearly 17 years. He makes me very proud to be a fundraiser.

So today I salute your grace Stephen Sutton. I salute your astonishing and beautiful throw. May you go gentle into that good night.

I wrote this at 8am this morning but Stephen’s mother has just posted on his Facebook and Twitter feeds to tell us that he died peacefully in the early hours of this morning. May he rest in peace.

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Say it again!

Good stuff here – beware of your own boredom with things that work 🙂

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5 Things Never to Do in Your Phone Fundraising Calls

Yes, these are the right 5! Esp. number 3 🙂 Via @MLInnovations

Michael Rosen Says...

With this blog post, I’m launching a new, regular feature at Michael Rosen Says. Periodically, I’ll invite an outstanding, published book author to write a guest post. If you’re an author who would like to be considered, please contact me directly.

For the first author-guest-post, I invited Stephen F. Schatz, CFRE, author of Effective Telephone Fundraising: The Ultimate Guide to Raising More Money, the definitive book about how to make a successful appeal using the phone. Steve and I worked together as telephone fundraising pioneers. In his book, for which I wrote the Foreword, he reveals most of our proven techniques. Step-by-step, his book shows the right way, the most effective way to do telephone fundraising. As the back-cover says, “Despite the advent of sophisticated fundraising methods via the Internet, social media, and other online platforms, the bottom-line truth is: good old-fashioned telephone fundraising still works, bringing in…

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A Friday amusement for telephone fundraisers

We’ve come to the end of our Autumn telephone campaign at Leeds and as some of my friends and colleagues know it’s been the tradition over the last 5 years that I perform a song, sometimes written by the callers and sometimes by me, where all the lyrics are changed to be about fundraising and the things we get up to in a call room.

I’m quite pleased with my latest effort, so I thought I’d share the finished version, which I’ll be singing tonight.

Here’s a reworking of the Robbie Williams classic ‘Angels’ – ‘Engaged Calls’:

I sit and wait
Does the supervisor contemplate my fate?
And do they know
The websites where we go
When the data’s old?
‘Cos I’ve been told
That they can watch us while their games unfold
But when my headset’s on my head
And my story cards I’ve read
And my engagement’s in my head
I get engaged calls instead.

And through it all
They offer me confection
To help me deal with rejection
When the shift is long

I make another call
Wherever it may take me
I hope my headset won’t break and
When I get a callback for a PDD
I get engaged calls instead

When it’s a weekend shift
And my 3 ask technique needs a lift
I look above
And I know I can get a one to one
And as the laser maze game goes
I get rewards of Haribos
And when my headset’s on my head
I get engaged calls instead

[Chorus]

And through it all
They offer me confection
To help me deal with rejection
When the shift is long

I make another call
Wherever it may take me
I hope my headset won’t break and
When I get a callback for a PDD
I get engaged calls instead

Merry Christmas everyone and a very happy New Year 🙂

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Why are we still hanging-up on the telephone?

What I have been saying for years….

Pell & Bales

phone

Considering the contribution that the telephone makes to the sector, I am always surprised at the lack of content about the channel at fundraising conferences. If you exclude (the rather good session) on mobile and SMS fundraising there was barely a mention of the channel at the IFC this year. Odd when you consider that response rates on the phone eclipse all other channels . And surely there is much to learn from the millions of conversations we are having with donors every year?

Sure it got the odd mention, more so perhaps than previous years, what with SMS and mobile making the channel more exciting and fashionable ,  but really nothing more than a mention here and there.

One such mention came from Stephen Pidgeon, a strong advocate of the phone.  When talking of how SMS Prospecting was changing the fundraising landscape in the UK, he asked the…

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Remembering Steve

Here is what I sent to ‘rememberingsteve@apple.com‘:

 

To the entire Apple family and Steve’s family,

Thank you for giving us this way to write in with our memories of Steve and Apple. Steve and Apple have been part of my life since I was a boy of 11, bereaved, sad and lonely in my first year at boarding school in the UK, and I found my way into the wonderful world of computers that he and Woz opened up to us all.

I can proudly say that I have never owned a PC since, nor had one in my house. I always felt as if it would be a betrayal of Steve’s and the original Mac team’s vision, to make do with something I felt was a second-best rip-off. And like many others, I went through the long years of the mid-90s hoping and praying that that original spirit would return to Cupertino, and (oh my goodness) did it ever.

I’m now nearly 42, and it struck me this morning that at that age, Steve hadn’t yet accomplished the half of what will now always be his legacy. I know I’m not set to change the world in anywhere near the same way, but I can try to bring some of the spirit of Steve into what I do every day.

I work as a fundraiser for one of the UK’s great universities, and it’s my privilege to work with an extraordinarily committed team of young people who are our student telephone fundraising team. As far as I can I try to be a bit of a ‘mini Steve’ to them – I have the glasses, and the beard, a bit more hair (so far), and I’ve occasionally been known to wear a black turtleneck. What I try to give them, above all else, is the joy of accomplishment – of setting a goal that we all reach together, even if we think it’s mad and unattainable when we start, for something in which we passionately believe. I hope that spirit gets across into everything else they do and that they’ll take it on into all the many and varied jobs they’ll do in the world once they graduate – staying hungry and staying foolish, and doing great things.

I can only imagine how sad a time it is for you all right now, but I do have just one more thing. For me, Steve’s defining legacy is that feeling of surprised delight – when he would announce something completely unforeseeable, but suddenly totally obvious. Amidst your sadness, and your sense of things unfinished or never begun, I hope you as his closest inheritors will still be able to epitomise that spirit of his. Please, all of you, be his ‘one more thing’, in whatever way you can. Continue to make his legacy to the world one of surprised delight.

My sincerest and heartfelt condolences go to you all.

 

Best wishes

Adrian

 

Adrian Salmon
Footsteps Fund Manager
Alumni & Development Team
University of Leeds, UK

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