An influential fundraiser
Every year, we chat to people, read books, blogs, articles and watch presentations. What we learn influences us.
As a result, we try new techniques and approaches. And hopefully we raise more money as a result.
That's the sort of influence that should be recognised. And, in my opinion, this poll is a great way of bringing the best thinkers to a wider audience, particularly those who have just joined our industry.
Turning the competition into a mate-fest really misses the point and devalues the exercise.
Last year, I published a list of the ten people who I voted for and explained the reason why. This year I was going to do the same, but on Friday I changed my mind.
I was at George Smith's memorial at the Oval Cricket Ground and had had the chance to listen to his friends and family share their stories of George.
When I got home, I opened George's last publication, Up Smith Creek, and read it with fresh eyes. It's a collection of George's articles stretching back to the 1970s.
They cover many topics relevant to today – recession, conference bores, copywriting, data, experts who don't know anything and passion (or the lack of it).
On page 13 George wrote of the silence of charities at the start of the Bosnian war…
"Perhaps charities have been advised by advertising agencies that August is a low-readership month? Perhaps someone is saying it's too close to the ITV Telethon? Perhaps there is a feeling that we must not rock the Foreign Office boat. Perhaps (heaven forfend) all the fundraisers are in Tuscany? Whatever the reasons for the silence, I sense the dead hand of dutiful professionalism squashing the fine old instinct of passion.
However wrong or misguided I might be in that judgement I must be right in reporting the emptiness of a morning when there was so much philanthropy about and no one to wish it on. Like all good things, that mood will pass. If Akabusi makes gold, Bosnia drifts down the page. If a minister commits adultery, forget world hunger for a week. If Jerry gets back with Mick, stop worrying about the greenhouse effect.
This is the world we live in and always will. It is a world where fundraisers need to make their own luck and force their own issues on a public sated with junk news. Sometimes, as now, the luck is made for them. In which case there should be that wonderful surge of spontaneous decency on which the British can still pride themselves. But today, all is quiet.
I did a four-minute rant in Birmingham on the need for passion. This is a fifty-minute rant on the same subject. Both rants are based on my fear that we are becoming technicians and not advocates, that we are measuring opportunities and not creating them, that we are beginning to settle for being suits and dresses ambling around conference halls.
Carpe Diem means seize the day. We just missed one and we need all the seizable days we can get."
Though written almost twenty years ago, swap Bosnia for Syria or Somalia, Akabusi for Adlington, Birmingham for the Metropole Hilton in the Edware Road and Jerry and Mick for Katie and Peter and his words could have been written yesterday.
As a fundraiser, you could do far worse than allow yourself to be influenced by George, so if you are new to this profession (a first jobber or someone with less than two years' experience) I'll be happy to put my money where my mouth is and send you a copy of George's book free of charge.
Just drop me an email at ma[email protected] with George's name in the subject title and your charity details for delivery and I'll get the book in the post to you today. I've got ten copies on my desk and if the White Lion Press offer me a discount, I'll be happy to buy a few more. Older, better-paid fundraisers can buy a copy here.
Today is the day you can be influenced by a fundraiser who actually had done it all before. Seize it.
You can vote for George and anyone else you'd like by clicking here.