3 reasons to make sure you have system support

Purple Vision offers support services for both our Raiser’s Edge and Salesforce clients.

Of course, these products are as diverse as the two tools themselves but the fundamental principle is the same – we’re here to help.

Here are our three key reasons why we think support services are part of your key to success.

Protect your investment

The long and the short of any system is that you’ve paid money for it and continue to pay to keep it operating.  It is (or should be) a tool that’s central to how you work. Support services can help keep your system healthy, fit for purpose and ready to work hard for you.  Think of your system as the hard-working team member it is and set aside the time and resource needed to help it perform for you.

Efficiency gains

How long will you sit at your desk trying to figure out ‘how do I …?’ – of course, you might search online for a fix (self learning is always encouraged).  But at what point do you realise you could be doing something more valuable and call an expert who can make a fix for you?  Or help you and your team understand how to fix similar issues in the future?  Support services are here for just that.  Escalating issues so you can be more efficient.

Control your costs 

There’s nothing worse than getting an unexpected bill. Support services help you plan and anticipate spend requirements for your system.

  • Firstly, as a fixed price per hours contract, you’ll know what you’re paying for support services, know how much time you have left and be able to manage support needs in the future.
  • Secondly, sticky tape fixes and work-arounds are never a great long term solution to managing systems but we see many that are common in legacy systems.  Our expert team will be able to help you assess when more permanent fixes, updates and additional needs should be formalised.  They will help you to look at the best processes to keep you operating or even to consider making a move to a new system (if you’re still using Raiser’s Edge), or when to add a new app for the functionality needs you have (Salesforce) – so any more serious changes to your system can be carefully planned and costed rather than knee-jerk responses.

Find out more about our support services below.

Can we help? 

Whatever your question, we’re happy to help.   You can

Unlock your fundraising potential

We’ve published a new whitepaper – Unlock your fundraising potential.

Our thinking behind the paper is about our experience and how things have moved on.

“Worldwide, an estimated 13,000 non-profits use Raiser’s Edge – a database that has been around for more than 30 years.  It’s no surprise that it’s widely been seen as ‘the’ tool for fundraisers. Purple Vision has supported clients who use RE for more than a third of the entire lifespan of the product. Over that time, we’ve learned a few things.  In this paper, we share some of our thoughts and insights to help you with the next steps that you are likely to take as you consider your options with this tool. 

There will be a next step, because at the grand old age of 30, Blackbaud upgraded Raiser’s Edge to Raiser’s Edge NXT.  On the face of it, for many it will feel like a natural progression.  But we’re urging charities to look beyond an auto-pilot upgrade, and consider their options.  Of course, you may still choose to use your tried and tested favourite, but for others, this is a chance to take a fresh look at the options available”.

Get your copy of the paper

  • Unlock your potential -read as a PDF
  • Unlock your fundraising potential – read as a flipbook

    Making the right choice for your charity 

  • For the first time, as charities look at their fundraising infrastructure, there are a selection of real and viable alternatives available to what was once the only really serious option for fundraisers.

    We share just one of these options as a potential alternative to review and consider – Causeview. We’ve described it as RE but on the Salesforce platform.  Its an interesting comparison and we’d like to  show you what we mean.

    But of course, we’re realistic.  For some charities, Raiser’s Edge is just where they need to be.

    What’s key is to think and decide which is the right way to go for your organisation.  So our paper explains the points at which you might need to consider a change and what some of those drivers and decision points may need to be for your charity.

    See for yourself

    We’re hosting a series of breakfast briefings to showcase Causeview – join us at one of these to see the tool for yourself and see how it compares to what you have now.

    Join us at 09.00 on any of the three dates below – just click the link on the date to register.

    We’ll be holding these events in our offices – Purple Vision are based in Kennington Park, just opposite Oval tube station in London.  They’re fairly informal affairs over coffee and croissants with a chance to ask questions too.

And while we’re talking about Causeview, of course we know there are other tools on the market too. We’re happy to talk to you about these, too – we pride ourselves on being independent and on your side.  For us that means doing the right thing for you – not shoehorning your needs into a box.

Get in touch

If you have questions about this paper or would like to know more about Causeview, give us a ring on 0845 458 0250 or email [email protected]

Solar panels to Salesforce Non Profit Starter Pack in 2 easy days

Solar panels to Salesforce Non Profit Starter Pack in 2 easy days

Alongside Africa’s motto is ‘opportunities not aid’, and this ethos extends through four key projects – micro-finance, craft activities, a street children programme and a child sponsorship programme.

Problems and solutions

Managing a charity in the UK and Uganda doesn’t come without challenges, but on this trip, Lawrance set out to solve one that has been holding them back.

The teams in Uganda and UK naturally need to work together very closely.  One of the issues has been sharing data and progress reports.  These not only inform donors of progress on projects but helps to ensure transparency.

The solution – Salesforce Non Profit Starter Pack – was clear. But the way to achieve it wasn’t quite as simple as we’d hope – the Ugandan team work in a location where electricity is not always available, internet connections patchy and IT skills and funds limited.

But one thing is in abundance in Uganda – sunshine.   And so a team of willing volunteers set about installing a solar panel in the Ugandan office location so Lawrance could provide the power and hook up routers for the internet. Only then could he start to install Salesforce, using the donation from the Salesforce Power of Us programme.

In the end, it took just two days to get the basic Salesforce system in place and copy over data from the legacy Access database. For Lawrance who holds Salesforce Admin certifications and is a consultant for Salesforce.org Impact partner Purple Vision this was the easy part!

Bringing bright hope

Lawrance tutors Alongisde African Uganda case workers in the use of Salesforce

Plans are already in place to expand the use of the system to record daily attendance of children at Amasiko and to use it to manage Alongside Africa’s micro-finance programme too.

This work can be carried out from both the UK or on-site in Uganda making Salesforce an extremely flexible solution, and enabling the charity to keep supporters up to date with the valuable contributions they make.

The rest of us felt a bit bad that our holidays had been spent in less worthwhile pursuits!



Follow the Alongside Africa story via www.alongsideafrica.org  and find out what else happened during Lawrance’s latest trip via the blog pages.


IoF Convention

Purple Vision are delighted to announce that as well as speaking at two sessions at the prestigious Institute of Fundraising Convention (4-6 July 2016 at the Barbican, London), we’ll be exhibiting too. We’ll be sharing advice and info through our two speakers slots and our booth in the exhibition hall will give you the chance to drop by and ask us questions.

Monday 4 July – 10.30 – 11.30 – Individual Giving Track

Steve Thomas (Chief Executive) and Jonathan Cook (Associate Consultant)

Invigorate your data insights – banish data dreariness

Data is the heart, if not the soul, of fundraising. Recent innovations make data visualisation more accessible, and as a result, easier to use to build genuine, real-time personal donor experiences that drive results. This session will invigorate you to take a fresh look at your data, and reveal new insights to fuel your fundraising. From business intelligence tools through to reports and dashboards we’ll inspire you to action by signposting tools and highlighting approaches for you to follow back at your desk. All without dreary spreadsheets!

Tuesday 14.15 – 15.00 – Digital Track

Mags Rivett (Director of Marketing) and Ian Fairhurst (Senior Consultant, Non Profit)

Email – moving away from the big bang theory towards personal engagement

How do you move from a culture of sending an e-newsletter to personalising content and driving engagement? In this session, we’ll help you make the leap. Our practical tips will provide you with a common sense, no-nonsense approach that will work in all sizes of charity, regardless of budget and tools. We’ll look at what you have got – data, content – and how you can use these to drive activity through very simple segmentation and testing. But it all starts with your vision and ambition.

Join Mags, Keith, Ian and Steve at the Purple Vision stand (stand 31) in the Expo hall of the Fundraising Convention.  We’ll be around to chat through


Supercharged to help you succeed

We’ve supercharged to help you succeed

Exciting news from us this week – Purple Vision and Appssential have merged.

This makes us all round bigger and better at what we both do and how we do it – we can offer more support, services and even more expertise to our respective clients and will help us to grow – as our infographic shows – story continues below.

Purple Vision - supercharged for your success, and here's how

Our story

The new story we are creating for ourselves stems from a chance meeting – a meeting of minds and values – between Steve (Purple Vision) and  Tin (Appssential) at a Salesforce event.

In the intervening 18 months, the two companies have worked together to bring successful client projects to fruition, and on initial activity for Sugati-CRM an innovative framework for the travel sector.

Leveraging synergies

The synergies between us are tangible.  What matters most is that we share the same values and approach. We share the same commitment to customer success, innovation and development of new tools, services and products to support our clients.  And to welcoming new clients to the benefits that technology can bring to their business.

We also share fantastic people.  Our teams are already integrating, bringing a wide range of technical qualifications, expertise and experience together, as well as a variety of languages.  Even if we say so ourselves, we’re quite a fun bunch to work with.

Interestingly, we don’t share the same client base.

Appssential brings expertise in the travel market and a diverse range of corporate clients to compliment Purple Vision’s expertise in the non-profit sector (charities, associations, higher education) and fundraising know-how.

As we grow, Purple Vision is still firmly committed to the non-profit sector and to our strong fundraising heritage. Our ‘supercharged’ Purple Vision will enable us to continue to develop our non-profit work and build more innovative and engaging solutions and opportunities for charities, associations and higher ed institutions of all sizes.

But ‘supercharged’ Purple Vision will also serve the needs of the travel sector as we deliver our unique framework, Sugati-CRM and will serve some other commercial clients.

It’s also important to note that while we’re a Salesforce partner, our services for non profit technology still include Independent Technology Advice.  We’re still independent and recommend only the right solutions for your organisation.  And we still work with Raiser’s Edge.

Quite simply, together we’re supercharged versions of what we were before. 

Timing and change

Officially all the legal work has already happened, and we have told a few people already – it was important to us that they knew personally what was going on and what it means for them. So now, we can speak publicly about the all-new, supercharged Purple Vision.

The wider public changes like our social presence and, websites will fade in over the next few months as we bring together two groups of people into one organisation (and one office).

We’ll be working as Purple Vision (so keeping this site and our colours as the main brand) but also expanding presence for Sugati-CRM to give this travel framework a platform from which it can shine.  We’ll keep you posted as we progress.

If you’d like to know more, please get in touch with us via our contact form or give us a ring via 0845 458 0250.

FundraisingWhite 160

Internal barriers to fundraising success – the battle within

Philip Roethenbaugh, a skilled fundraiser and our expert/go-to Associate Consultant for fundraising services shares his considerable knowledge with fundraisers via a series of blogs. This is the fourth and final in the current series of blogs.

The battle within – internal barriers to fundraising success

In 15 years working as a fundraiser in charities large and small, the greatest challenges on most occasions were not

  • the economy
  • donor apathy,
  • difficulty finding and retaining good staff
  • having an emotive cause to tell donors about.

The most common –  and energy sapping  – challenge is gaining and retaining the co-operation of colleagues in other departments, senior management and trustees.

Don’t complain – get buy-in

Without emotional buy-in and practical commitment to fundraising from colleagues and volunteers, the fundraisers will always be working with one hand tied behind their backs.

The hurdles can take many shapes. They might include a lack of understanding or disinterest in donor’s needs, to low levels of co-operation when trying to get ‘raw material’ for your case for support. The most difficult to overcome is a wobbly or non-existent business plan, leaving you with no foundation for your case to donor ‘investors’.

I am not here to give fundraisers licence to complain to colleagues.

Ultimately you must work with what you can get. But fundraisers must express their professional needs (the tools you require to get the job done), firmly and constructively.

Time dedicated to creating an environment that is more friendly to fundraising, is time very well spent.

Let’s look at some of the reasons for this strife and some possible solutions.

  1. A misunderstanding of what fundraising truly is

Like a lot of fundraisers, I used to see myself as Robin Hood. Taking from the rich and giving to the needy. This is entirely wrong.

A fundraiser’s skill is in what they can GIVE to a donor, not what cash they can take.

Non-fundraising colleagues may see fundraising in a Dickensian vein – fundraiser as Oliver Twist with a begging bowl.

This view is even more damaging, as it describes a one-way process in which the person asking is totally lacking in power.  Who wants to be a beggar?

Too many charity staff view fundraising as a necessary evil, like having to call the plumber in to unblock a toilet!  No, no, no!

Fundraising it is at the very heart of this thing we call ‘charity’. It’s about making a precious connection between those with a need (beneficiary) and those with the means to meet that need (the donor).

It’s a fundraiser’s responsibly to promote this healthier and more accurate picture. There is no quick fix, but a fun and engaging fundraising induction process, for all staff and volunteers is a great place to start.

  1. Lack of professional respect

Within the voluntary sector, there are two kinds of professionals.

Those that work directly with services users / carrying out charitable purposes (social worker, scientist, teacher etc) and those who do a job in support of that first group (accountant, fundraiser, IT worker etc).

Almost without exception, the first category are looked on as ‘heroes’ within the charity (no problem with that!).

However, ‘support staff’ are too often taken for granted, or in the worst case, seen as a terrible ‘drain’ on income. This is nonsense. Of course overhead must be justifiable, but each half depends on the other to get results. Like two blades in a pair of scissors or two wings on a plane.

Fundraisers should lead the way in advocating for mutual respect across the departments, seeking to influence senior management and trustee behaviour in this area.  Creating ‘buddy’ links between teams can be an effective way to build respect and co-operation.

  1. Lack of commitment at senior level

If the first two factors exist, chances are that this third factor is in play too. It may be the cause or symptom. Either way, if your chair of trustees and CEO do not have much time or interest in the fundraising function, it will struggle to perform.  I say ‘function’ rather than fundraising. All CEOs and trustees are interesting in fundraising performance. Fewer, however, want to get involved in the process.

But involvement is essential. This is because fundraising is very much a team sport. To mix metaphors, there are certain ‘roles’ that have to be played by non-fundraising people. For example, a wealthy donor is going to want to meet the organ-grinder (not the monkey). There are few things more painful, for a fundraiser, that sitting alongside a bored CEO, across the table from a keen major donor prospect.

Then there is the budget round. Enthusiasm for and commitment to fundraising (in the good times and bad times) is essential to get the long-range investment needed to grow income, on a sustainable basis.To use a biblical phase, one should not “muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain”. Or to put it another way, its illogical and wrong to send the team that raise most (or all) of the money to the back of the queue, when resources are being distributed.

In terms of solutions, for those leaders that are not naturally enamoured by the prospect of going out into the world to ask for financial support, my advice is to appeal to issues closer to their heart. Make the connection between fundraising’s success and their pet interest.


As a consultant, I’ve worked with dozens of charities, varying hugely in size and cause, but one constant remains – those charities in which fundraising is valued as a professional skill-set and colleagues are well informed and co-operative, succeed.

Learn to love fundraising and it becomes the charity’s heartbeat.

Some recommended further reading:

  • ‘Relationshift’ Revolutionary Fundraising’ by by Michael BassoffSteve Chandler (Robert Reed Publishers) 2010. Simply the best book for debunking damaging fundraising myths.
  • ‘The Porcupine Principle’ by Jonathan Farnhill (pub. DCS) – Equally insightful and entertaining. Clearly explains fundraising’s role in the big picture.

About Purple Vision & Fundraising

Purple Vision has a long pedigree of fundraising – we say it’s part of our DNA.  Our expertise is in the intersection between fundraising and technology – translating both specialist areas into practical solutions.  But behind that is our vision to support charities to set the right direction and strategy to achieve their goals – on a day to day, weekly and monthly basis, as they stride towards achieving the big, hairy, audacious goal that is your vision and mission.   Our fundraising consultancy services cover a wide range of areas from the strategic and visionary to the practical and data driven. Our expert team speak fluent non-profit and are on hand to share their expertise as you need it.  Get in touch if you’d like to know more.

Why you should know what the GDPR is – and what you can do NOW!

Be a fundraising GDPR superstar!

Dawn VarleyGuest blog by Purple Vision Associate Consultant, Dawn Varley – a self-professed ‘data geek’ and all round fundraising super-star – with a special interest in making data approachable and manageable.




On 14 April, European Parliament finally voted to accept the new rules and regulations that will shape data protection within the EU from 2018 onwards. We now have confirmation of what the much-talked about ‘changes to EU DP law’ – the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) look like, and can work to ensure they are adequately planned for.

The core components of consent, compliance and security shouldn’t come as any surprise – as these form the bedrock of the current EU, and corresponding UK, legislation.

That said, there are some key changes to be aware of, and whilst 2018 seems like an age away now is the time to get moving.   We all want to ensure not just compliance with the law, but to adopt best practice over and above it as a means of delivering excellent fundraising, and corresponding customer service to your supporters.

The time-frame also offers a great opportunity to incorporate a review of,  and plan of action for, the wider regulatory changes that have already or are due to come into effect in the next year.

But for now, let’s look at the core elements of the GDPR.


Consent remains very much a hot topic within the wider fundraising furore that has plagued the sector for the last year or so. But at its heart it could be argued to be very straight forward.  Existing Data Protection Act (DPA) and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) laws focus on this, and the GDPR serves to reiterate the 4 conditions that need to be present in order for consent from supporters to be valid:

  1. Freely given – the person must give their consent without force, ie they have a choice, and do not have to give unnecessary details to undertake the transaction
  2. Informed – it must be clear to the person exactly what is being asked, why, and how they opt-in or out. Plain English is key.
  3. Specific – related to condition 2, the consent given will be specific to the processing stated at time of consent, and cannot unreasonably be changed later without further consent
  4. Positive action to indicate consent – the person must be required to do something to confirm they consent, ie by submitting a form or ticking a box. The absence of action cannot be used here.

A ‘right to be forgotten’ and a ‘right to object’ is also available for the supporter to invoke, and business processes must be able to recognise these rights, and cater for the subsequent removal of consent. Existing consent obtained from supporters will still be valid as long as the 4 conditions above are deemed to be met, so there is no starting point of a need to reconfirm with people to get consent.


Thinking again of the traumatic year that charities have had, compliance has been highlighted as a key area where lack of attention has caused major problems.  It is not enough to state that you comply with the DPA in the data protection statements you use – you must understand what it is, what is requires you to do – and then do it. Likewise the Institute of Fundraising Code of Fundraising Practice – it is not enough to simply be a member and the ethos of the Code must be present in all you do.

The GDPR brings in changes to compliance at two key levels:

  • Firstly, by rolling out the need to comply with regulations at data processor as well as data controller level, which means a charity using the services of a supplier must ensure they comply with regulations in the same way the charity does. One way to do this is to ensure this is contractually stated, and then checked on, by the charity.
  • Secondly, stricter financial penalties will apply, with much steeper fines available to punish failure to abide by the GDPR. Up to 4% of annual turnover could be at risk at the top end of the scale.


‘Privacy by design’ should be embedded in all business processes which collect and manage data, and also in the systems that store and process it. Security cannot be an afterthought retrospectively applied to a process or system, and so a culture change as to how data management is approached may be required.  The transfer of data outside the EU, and ensuring that supporters are adequately aware of where  their data will be managed, and why, receives more emphasis, and so attention to what suppliers are doing, how and where, is again highlighted.

What should non-profits do now?

Although the GDPR won’t come into effect until 2018, the two years from now until then should be looked at as a great opportunity for audit, review and process change.

As such, organisations need to look at a project team of the right people to review this across the organisation – data protection officer, fundraising, IT, data teams, communications and marketing, operational teams who use data, perhaps even HR and finance.

Most organisations will be best placed to start with an audit across all their data (where, who, how, when, why?) and build a plan of action to consider these new elements and how they’ll respond.

We consider the key areas of this may be:

  • Logistics of consent – from ask to coding and storage, to how it is accessed for selections and suppressions. CRM is going to be critical to this and recording response sign up, storage and in making selections, too.
  • Compliance with compliance – where are the gaps in your team considering what you know now? There will be more to come but do you need to look at a data champions programme, formal training, internal comms programmes or another route to ensure you all know what you need to know and can comply
  • Security review – what existing processes are in place, what needs to be in place and when, and how will you enact that plan?

Also key to success with this transition is understanding that the project will end, but the principle doesn’t – embed respect for consent, and understanding for it, in your organisation. Training, refreshers, documentation and champions can all ensure you stay ahead of the game, and do build in a bi-yearly review to check on any issues/concerns.

Don’t lose sight of why

The principle of why this is being done and new regulation is required is important – it’s easy to get bogged down in the day to day and lose sight of why.  This is about data protection and fundraising being trusted by individuals, supporters, clients, staff and constituents.  It’s in all our best interests to comply, not least because fines are more punitive than in previous regulatory cycles.   In the bigger picture, this is a recognition for all of us as consumers that the world we live in now is fast moving and ever changing – we shop across borders, travel across borders, donate across borders – and having multiple data rules in different jurisdictions which are hard to enforce is not in our best interests.

Keep it simple, superstars! 

Employ the KISS principle and do keep it simple in terms of the matter at hand, and your response. The main issue for fundraising is consent, and this is about treating people, and their data, fairly and securely, and as a two way relationship. Put yourself in your supporter’s shoes –  how would you want your data to be treated?

The GDPR gives a great starting point. If you look to review how you stack up to that now, work towards it, and come 2018 you’ll be in a great place. Build in the requirements of the existing and emerging fundraising regulations, and you’ll stay well ahead of the game. And if you’re wondering if all this will be relevant if Brexit becomes a reality, then yes, it will, as the UK will want to match EU requirements to stay in the trade game, so don’t use the forthcoming referendum as an excuse to do nothing.

How Purple Vision can help

Purple Vision can help with every aspect of a project like this – from leading the project for you, to offering specific advice and consultancy services on data, systems and other factors.  Drop us a line via email ([email protected]) or via 0845 458 0250 and ask us more.

The Grand GDPR Resource Library

The following links cover the wider legal and regulatory framework at play, as well as the GDPR developments:


3 reasons why we’re ramped up to be at the Salesforce World Tour London

“World Tour date is set”, my contact at Salesforce told me.  The first thing I did, aside from promising to write a blog, is tell all my colleagues so we could all get registered.

The Salesforce World Tour is an annual must-attend for the whole Purple Vision team and one of the rare days we’re all out of the office doing the same thing.  We’re interested in what’s new and exciting in Salesforce and checking out the developments, case studies on show and product demos.  We split the sessions between us and make sure we get as much information as possible.  So it’s a day for our learning – personally and for our business too.  Understandable, perhaps, as we’re Salesforce.org Impact Partners so are invested in the community already.

It’s also a great time for us to catch up with our clients and share some time with them. We always invite the non-profits we’re working with so they can catch up with what could be next for them, learn some practical tips and tricks and meet other users.   For our prospects, it’s a chance to learn more about the platform and tools we’re suggesting they adopt and see for themselves why we keep saying ‘awesome’ a lot.  Everyone quickly learns that it’s infectious rather than an affliction.

It’s good to be on hand for clients and prospective clients visiting the World Tour, especially for the first time.  There is so much going on it can feel overwhelming if you’re not just a tiny bit prepared.   So in preparation for preparing our colleagues and guests, I asked some of the Purple Vision team what they were looking forward to this year.

The conclusion is that we’re pretty ramped up to be there, and there are three key reasons why.

2016 SF World Tour graphic

  1. I’ve heard the hype…  One of our colleagues is new and while she’s got the ‘creds’ (Salesforce qualifications are called credentials) has never been to World Tour event before.  She’s heard stories and is keen to see if they match the reality. We’re pretty confident they will.  The all-singing, all dancing keynote, raft of new stuff, presentations and case studies will surprise and delight in equal measure.  And when you need a time out, there’s always a drink somewhere close by (snacks, did I mention snacks yet?).  The challenge as I said up thread is seeing it all.
  2. Introducing the all-new. Our development team are extra keen to see what’s new.  I find it fascinating to see things we’ve been talking about as trends and concepts become real products and tools that we can use (donor journeys are good example here – we used to do these with bits of string, willpower and a spreadsheet, now we can use marketing automation tools like Pardot and the Marketing Cloud Journey Builder).  But it’s not just the shiny and new that’s interesting, it’s the updates and new features to the familiar that matter too.  There’s often a chance to get your hands on tools and have a bit of a play and a look.  And how are other people using the products and tools?  Case studies offer us inspiration that we can take home and apply when we’re back behind the desk.  We’re quite excited by the non-profit stream this year which includes the RNIB talking about how they’re using Salesforce apps in some quite clever, life changing ways.  I heard mention of Augmented Reality ….  I also heard there may be puppies in the keynote, but might have been wishful thinking.
  3. People, people, people. Salesforce community is more than a product. Salesforce attracts great people and you can meet these people – be they Salesforce staff and partners, fellow Salesforce users, people checking it out but not using it yet, super-admins, developers and the tech teams that build and work with the tool.  The enthusiasm you will feel from the community around the cloud will leave you feeling charged up and ready to roll. If the idea of networking gives you a bit of a cold shiver, panic not.  You have never met a friendlier bunch of people and pretty much everyone is up for having a chat.

We’re all registered and ready for May 19th at Excel and looking forward to seeing you there too

Register: https://www.salesforce.com/uk/events/details/london/

Ps One final reason just from me.  Last year, I got to meet SaaSy – the no software cloud – in person. You’ve made it as far as I am concerned when you’ve got a picture with Sassy for your social feed and I need to better last year’s pic !



Trustees with pom-poms

Philip Roethenbaugh, a skilled fundraiser and our expert/go-to Associate Consultant for fundraising services shares his considerable knowledge with fundraisers via a series of blogs. This is the third blog in his series. 

Trustees with pom-poms: How to bring out the best in your ‘overlords’

The last article I read on trustees was a bit like a Spotter’s Guide to Rare Birds.

There were descriptions of the pecking ‘Critic’, the deafening ‘Know-it-all’, the shy ‘Quorate’ (just-making-up-the-numbers) and the ‘looking-backer’ with a memory like an elephant. You get the idea. Lots of fun, but not that helpful really.

Perhaps becoming a trustee myself, a few years ago, changed my point of view.  Suddenly, I became a lot more tolerant and understanding of my own trustees when I was doing my day job.  I now had the advantage of knowing what if feels like having to make life-changing decisions with scant information. Or to be more honest – having scan-read an excellent report by the CEO moments earlier in the car park.

The mode trustees operate in can and should flex from meeting to meeting and moment to moment, based on need.

For example, they may need to play the role of

  • Border Guard – enforcing boundaries
  • Ambassador – pressing the flesh at the gala dinner
  • Inspector – holding the Executive to account.

But the default position, in my view, should be

  • Cheerleader – close your eyes for just a minute and imagine your trustees with pom-poms in hand, going rah-rah-rah on the touchline.  Nice idea, isn’t it?  I am not saying trustees should give the CEO and staff an easy ride and praise them unceasingly. But their highest calling should be to encourage and support.

How do you bring these qualities to the fore in your Board?

What’s the driver?

My key advice is to understand what really matters to them, what motivates them to give up all this time for your cause.

Just like ‘normal people’, trustees have an iceberg quality to them – most of what there is to know is way below the surface. People become trustees for a very wide range of reasons. Getting to know your trustees outside of formal meetings is an essential way to unpack some of that. I don’t mean spending hours in the pub (although there’s nothing wrong with that).  It could be spending time with them, visiting a project. I’ve found in the past that long drives present a great time to talk honestly – in part, because there’s less need for eye contact and it feels less like an interview or confrontation.

Knowing what your trustees really care about helps you to frame your communications with them – written and verbal.  There is little point focusing on an area that means nothing to them – finding shared interests offers them a way to become your supporter.

Managing Expectations

Clearly defining what is expected of trustees also goes a long way to avoiding bad habits developing.  The Charity Commission have some excellent resources on the subject.  Beyond the legal obligations, the battle ground then becomes what sits under the ‘executive’ responsibilities and what sits under ‘governance’.

Sometimes it is black and white, but more often there are shades of grey and collaboration is essential.

NB – I have a useful diagram about that and will send your a copy if you ask nicely.

Read body language and react

This is a really useful bit of advice I have been benefiting from for years.

It’s a tell-tale bit of body language that lets you know someone is flexing their authority – Resting Hands Behind the Head with Elbow Jutting Out.  I call it the ‘Cormorant’ (Google for a picture). It’s usually interpreted as a sign of superiority or big-headedness, but it’s not quite as simple as that. It is certainly more common from middle-aged male chairs than any other category of person I’ve ever met or worked with.  In any case, when spotted, I wouldn’t quite say that you should disregard everything the person then goes on to say, but it certainly should set off alarm bells. If the chair and the CEO start doing it at the same time, it’s best to duck for cover!  And perhaps suggest a quiet drink so you can start the process of assessing interests and areas of activity that will have them waving pom-poms for you rather than causing major issues.

In short, poor relations between the CEO, Executive Team and the Trustees can be the quickest way to ruin an otherwise fantastic organisation – we can all think about organisations where this may be the case – either through direct experience or confidential conversations with charity-based colleagues.

Don’t let things fester.

Get expert support to help build a culture of cooperation and cohesion and have your ‘overlords’ waving pom-poms and supporting you every step of the way.

Some recommended further reading:

For a copy of Phillip’s grey areas diagram (described above) please email [email protected] referencing this blog.

About Purple Vision & Fundraising

Purple Vision has a long pedigree of fundraising – we say it’s part of our DNA.  Our expertise is in the intersection between fundraising and technology – translating both specialist areas into practical solutions.  But behind that is our vision to support charities to set the right direction and strategy to achieve their goals – on a day to day, weekly and monthly basis, as they stride towards achieving the big, hairy, audacious goal that is your vision and mission.   Our fundraising consultancy services cover a wide range of areas from the strategic and visionary to the practical and data driven. Our expert team speak fluent non-profit and are on hand to share their expertise as you need it.  Get in touch if you’d like to know more.


A handy ‘cut-out and keep’ guide to Vision, Mission and Values

Philip Roethenbaugh, a skilled fundraiser and our expert/go-to Associate Consultant for fundraising services shares his considerable knowledge with fundraisers via a series of blogs.  This is the second blog in his series – more coming soon!  This series – tackling vision, mission and values.  

Your ‘Cut-out and Keep’ guide to charity Vision, Mission and Values (or VMV)

Even seasoned charity professionals can get into a pickle trying to explain the difference between their Vision and Mission statements. Get trustees involved in the discussion and add in Values and Ethos statements and it won’t be long before half the room is tied in knots and the other half is running for the door. But help is at hand!

Here is a short summary of useful definitions, you can cut-out and keep for the next time someone (maybe you) gets into a muddle.

Vision Statement 

A compelling and inspiring description of the difference the organisation will make, e.g. ‘A world in which every child has access to clean water’. This is about your charity’s aspirations and what it hopes to achieve in the longer term; maybe many years into the future. It should infuse the organisation with a sense of purposeful action and motivate others to commit their support.

In the corporate world, vision statements have a bad press – perhaps justifiably. Marketing teams for vacuum cleaners or toothpaste companies may find themselves desperately trying to make the every-day and banal into a ‘noble cause’. As a result, they often create meaningless, glib or even cynical phrases. But in the third sector, a vision for a changed world is what we are all about. So, we don’t need to gild the lily. You can be highly ambitious in your statement, so long as the need you aim to address is a genuine one. Just in case it is not already clear to you, your vision statement is NOT a vision for your organisation (“Operating nationwide by 2020”), but for the change you wish to effect in the outside world.

Mission Statement (or Purpose)

This is a declaration of the organisation’s core purpose. A mission statement answers the question, “why do we exist?”. It may sketch out the core activities you are committed to, for the foreseeable future, but shouldn’t try to be comprehensive or too rigid. However, to avoid too much abstraction, it helps to illustrate with practical examples of what you do. Your vision may change very little over time, but your mission may well need to adapt to account for changing needs, circumstances and opportunities.

Still not clear on the difference between ‘vision’ and mission’?  Try putting ‘ary’ on the end of each. A ‘visionary’ looks to the future and imagines what could be possible. A ‘missionary’ is someone who carried out the work to bring the vision into reality.


These explain what we stand for and believe in. Principles, ideals and characteristics that define the culture, standards and aspirations of the organisation. e.g. ‘Professionalism’, ‘Ensuring Fairness’, ‘Working in Partnership’ or ‘Advancing Knowledge’, backed-up by the beliefs that underpin them and perhaps examples of how they will be lived out, both internally and externally.

It’s hard to be original, but avoid single words like ‘Passion’ or ‘Inspiring’ unless you can define them and make them specific. In reality, no one value will be unique to your charity. Your values ‘fingerprint’ comes from how you combine and define them.Values come from the beliefs held by leaders and founders, which are then adopted corporately.

A clearer expression of those beliefs might sometimes be set out in an Ethos statement; particularly in the case of faith-based charities.

Please don’t plaster your values statements on huge bill boards around the office. If you do, that is a sure sign they have made no impact and never will. Rather, they are for the more subtle processes of staff induction and appraisals and to help to inform your decision making.

It should be a sober thought that the true values of your organisation are those actually practised and modelled by the most senior members.

Changing, updating or adapting your Vision, Mission and Values (or Ethos) statements

If having looked at your vision, mission and values (or ethos) statements you feel that they are not up to the job, then commit to changing them. Here are a few do’s and don’ts:

• DON’T make the error of failing to check back to your charitable objects to see what, legally speaking, you are limited to doing.
• DO have a frank and open debate (trustees and executive together) about the strengths and weaknesses of your current statements and new needs.
• DON’T try to write them ‘by committee’, better to assign the job to a proper ‘word-smith’ in the team. Further feedback can then be taken.
• DO involve staff and volunteers, in test-driving prototype statements, but don’t try to make it a democratic process.
• DON’T use 20 words when 10 will do. In fact, every word has to be able to justify its space.
• DO use the most accessible language you can without ‘dumbing down’. If the statements need further explanation, then you’ve failed.

Tackling miss-matches and gaining consensus

It often helps to have an objective voice in the room, when tackling these sometimes thorny and emotionally loaded topics. I am biased of course, but I would recommend gaining the support of a seasoned consultant to help facilitate this process, to make it as pain-free and productive as possible.

Revising your ‘foundational statements’ should be much more than a cosmetic or marketing exercise. It can be the catalyst for re-invigorating your charity and super-charging your business plan.

About Purple Vision & Fundraising

Purple Vision has a long pedigree of fundraising – we say it’s part of our DNA.  Our expertise is in the intersection between fundraising and technology – translating both specialist areas into practical solutions.  But behind that is our vision to support charities to set the right direction and strategy to achieve their goals – on a day to day, weekly and monthly basis, as they stride towards achieving the big, hairy, audacious goal that is your vision and mission.   Our fundraising consultancy services cover a wide range of areas from the strategic and visionary to the practical and data driven. Our expert team speak fluent non profit and are on hand to share their expertise as you need it.  Get in touch if you’d like to know more.