A roadmap to somewhere? Or a hamster wheel to nowhere?

“We’re on the road to nowhere/somewhere.”

It all seems to be about roadmaps at the moment doesn’t it? Roadmaps for how to develop a new proposition, digital transformation, how to transform your culture. Everything needs a road map, and quite right too.

A road to somewhere is a shed load better than a hamster wheel to nowhere.

We’ve been banging our drum quite a lot at Audience in 2018, especially around how fundraising needs to change, how burying your head in the sand or tinkering around the edges of a very big fundraising and comms problem is not the answer. Charities need to do something bold, change their thinking and create new ways of engaging and inspiring. People seem to get it, and some are even doing it, but for many senior execs, the challenge seems too big, too daunting, and they don’t know where to start. Fair point.

So, using the parlance of our time, we thought we’d lay it all out as a roadmap. Breaking down a huge transformation project into slightly smaller, but still quite sizeable chunks, to set you on the road. A bit like how I approached GCSE physics revision, but hopefully with a much better result.

You can check at what stage your charity is at, what’s next, and what else you have to do. I’m not saying it’s simple, but it seems to be reassuring a lot of directors that we are speaking to at the moment.

So here goes, an 8-step roadmap for how to transform your fundraising for the future:

  1. There’s a problem. Firstly, you need to understand that there is a problem with your fundraising, and why.
  2. It’s everybody’s problem. If you already realise that there is a problem, you need to make sure that everyone else in your org does too (and why)
  3. Big problems need big solutions. If you all understand that there’s a problem, then collectively you need to understand that the solution is a drastic change, not tinkering. If the answer was one that you had up your sleeve all the time, you’d have solved the problem by now.
  4. Bold new vision. If you all understand that a drastic change is needed, develop a bold fundraising vision of where your org needs to be in the future.
  5. Roadmap from here to there. If you understand your future vision, plot out a roadmap of how to get from where you are now to where you need to get to.
  6. Have you got the skills to pay the bills? If you’ve plotted out your roadmap, make sure you’ve got the structure, skillset and processes in place to deliver it.
  7. Commit, but keep your eyes open. If you’ve plotted out your roadmap of where you need to get to, and what you need to help you get there, realise that you’ll need to adapt it as you go. Also realise this roadmap only goes forward, it’s one-way traffic
  8. Get on with it. Then get on and do it. Fix what can be fixed, build the new stuff you need, evolve your fundraising and keeping pushing forward

For those of you who don’t like a roadmap. I’ve condensed all points into a paragraph that you can quote/scream verbatim in big important meetings. Paint it on the board room walls if you need to.

“There’s a problem and we all need to understand it. It’s big and the solution is something we’ve never done before. We need to build a new future and make sure we’ve got the skills, kit and leadership to be able to get there. Then we need to commit to this new future and push forwards, adapting and learning as we go.”

So, where are we as a sector, and are we getting traction?

  • Just an observation from me, but many charities in 2017 were at stage 2, but 2018 seemed to be all about stage 3. Encouraging, but really slow don’t you think?
  • The biggest bottle-neck in the sector seems to be at stage 3. Organisations realise that ‘something big’ needs to happen, but are waiting for a solution from other charities/agencies, when the answer lies within your own charity, and is also probably very different to that of your so-called competitors
  • Most of the work we’re doing at Audience at the moment is stages 4 and 5. Its exciting stuff, and every project is unique
  • Stage 6 doesn’t appear to be on many people’s radar, but without it, stage 7 and 8 aren’t going to happen. You’ll slip back into old ways of working, because that’s what the old structure was built for.
  • Stage 8 isn’t just the reserve of big charities, quite the contrary in fact. Those at stage 8 are there because of a clear strategy, bravery and exceptional leadership
  • This journey is unique for every charity, but the roadmap is applicable to all
  • Timescales for each stage vary wildly. Audience worked with one charity that got from stage 1-8 in 4 months. Another charity we work with took 18 months to get to stage 2. The difference between the 2? Size? No. Budget? No. Internal capacity. No. Leadership. Yes.
  • A sobering thought, but remember, stage 8 isn’t the end game, it’s actually the start. That should focus your mind a bit on the job in hand and the speed we need to be working at. You’ll learn as you go, fail spectacularly in some places, but learn quickly. You’ll also need to surround yourself with the right people externally. Different parts of the roadmap need different skillsets. You can’t do it all on your own.

Audiences Mystic-Meg style predictions

  • 2017 was all about individuals within organisations understanding there was a problem, and needing to convince the rest of their organisations.
  • 2018 was about organisations collectively understanding there was a problem, and realising that the solution is a very different future to anything they had imagined before.
  • 2019 needs be about developing those big, unique futures, plotting a course for how to get there and hunkering down and getting on with it.

What stage of the roadmap are you on? If in doubt, get in touch and we’ll let you know.

Wayne Murray
Strategy Director





One thought on “A roadmap to somewhere? Or a hamster wheel to nowhere?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s