By Caoileann Appleby - Nov 3 2021
I was delighted to be asked to speak at Fundraising Everywhere’s #IGSummit last week. And one of the themes running through a lot of the presentations I saw was the importance of values in and for your organisation.
It’s great timing, because if you’ve been paying any attention to charity sector news in the UK over the last year, you’ll see a consistent trend of charities being criticised, by media platforms or political figures or both, for putting their values into action:
- Barnardo’s for writing a blog post on white privilege
- The RNLI for rescuing refugees
- Abortion Support Network for using language that makes it clear not all their clients identify as women
- Stonewall for also being trans-inclusive
- The National Trust for daring to talk about talking about slavery and colonialism (in the properties funded by… slavery and colonialism…insert hollow laughter in an Irish accent)
This issue looks set to rumble on with the Good Law Project taking the UK government to court for potential bias in the recruitment of a new Charity Commission chair.
Yikes, you might be thinking. But if you’re not in the UK, you might be wondering what you can learn. The RNLI have – as before – been a great case study in how to respond when your work is challenged on values grounds: remind supporters of your values, be unapologetic, and the reward (financial and otherwise) comes from those who share those values too:
Brilliant to see a charity be so direct and clear about their language and values 👏 https://t.co/lsUBeU9Lsw— David Lacey (he/him) (@_David_Lacey) October 14, 2021
The key thing to remember is the public and your supporters expect and want you to be values-driven – that’s why charities exist, after all. We spend a lot of time refining and rephrasing our Vision, Mission, and Values – so why don’t we talk about them more? And that’s something the We Act campaign in Ireland has embraced too:
We have a renewed sense of community. We want a society with more emphasis on equality, justice and work-life balance.
At Ask Direct, values are a key consideration for creative campaigns – aligning the charity’s values to the donor’s. So the donor is constantly nodding and saying, "Yes that's me, that's what I believe in too".
Our recent legacy appeal from Cork Simon uses the lifelong values of volunteer Máire to connect supporters with their own values: the importance of local support, providing a safety net for people let down by the system, and of a community pulling together to provide for the most vulnerable.
Our summer appeal for the Mater Foundation directly speaks to supporters’ values and identity:
Each Pioneer has two things in common. The first is they believe patients in Ireland should have access to the best and most cutting edge procedures and treatments available. The second is their generous spirit, vision and commitment to making that belief a reality.
It’s about taking every opportunity to show your supporters that your values are their values too. Because that adage about trying to please everyone holds true:
"If people are rejecting us because of our values, we need to let that go. Remember who you're for & what you stand for. If a trope is damaging to work you do, you need to draw a line. If someone is rejecting you because of that ... not your audience!"@brandbycollette #IGSummit— Richard Sved (@richardsved) October 27, 2021