R U OK? Day

Australians have a way of putting positioning things, really clever and accesible. Mental Health is a tricky topic, but we ask each other every day, are you ok? This campaign taps into that, but ultimately wants people to really check if that person is ok!

R U OK?Day is a national day of action on the second Thursday of September (13 September 2012), dedicated to inspiring all people of all backgrounds to regularly ask each other ‘Are you ok?’

By raising awareness about the importance of connection and providing resources throughout the year, the R U OK? Foundation aims to prevent isolation by empowering people to support each other through life’s ups and downs.

Here Hugh Jackman explains the idea (typically dont like celeb endorsement, but this works)

So many Irish causes could come together for their own version of this day, it’d be cool if it wasnt a fundraiser either.

Who says one person can’t make a difference

The power of one, told brilliantly by Charity:Water.

Simplicity by adidas

When you have a celebrity, you don’t always need to make a TV ad to make it work. Look at this (and watch the hits go up and up in the coming weeks). Reach and scale!!

Promoting Philanthropy in Ireland

I saw yesterday that the Ireland Funds have opened their Grants rounds. One of the categories that they will accept requests under is “Promoting Philanthropy in Ireland”. A few years ago, working with Niall O’Sullivan, we got a group of fundraisers in Ireland to attend a meeting that  talked about promoting Philanthropy. We pulled together a “thoughts” document and shared it with the Board of Philanthropy Ireland. I believe that there is more movement in this space again, which is great to hear.

But there was one line of thinking from that day that I have been keen to progress. My belief is that one of the ways (and not the only one)  of creating a culture of Philanthropy in Ireland is to think long term and about the next generation. I had heard about a campaign in the US that encouraged children to not just save their pocket money but to also spend some of it and share (donate) another portion.

I don’t know who runs it, or even if it is run by anyone, but I want to adapt it and bring it to life in Ireland.

I sincerely believe that a “Spend, Save, Share” movement, targeted at children in junior school (with a plan to grow with them as they develop) would be a massive step in promoting philanthropy in Ireland. Imagine, if, from a young age children think about money differently. They think about saving (that’s good right) but they also know that its ok to spend some too. Just as importantly though, they start to think about what some of that money could do for others? So they would start to think about sharing. I firmly believe that this would be the start of a mindset change, which would need to be supported by a full programme that, as I said, develops as the child develops, which could be incredibly powerful and game changing for the future of philanthropy.

This isn’t about the amount, so fundraisers should put the calculators away. This is about the action. It’s about creating a movement that changes how we think about philanthropy. It’s a step towards the idea of planned giving. Ireland is a generous nation, we all know that. But we aren’t a nation that really plans or thinks about its giving. I believe that a programme like this would create a culture where we start to think in a planned way.

So why am I telling you this?

Well I want charities to get on board with me. I would love to take this on, but I need charities to buy into it. Maybe organisations like Fundraising Ireland, Philanthropy Ireland, ICTRG, The Wheel could row in behind it too? Maybe even some financial institutions too!

We could apply to the Ireland Funds for seed funding and then look at where else we could get support. This is clearly in the ideas stage. But there is an idea here.

If you think it’s a good one and think your organisation would like to get behind something like this, let me know, drop me an email, tweet me, call me, whatever, just get in touch. We will then set something up with everyone who thinks it’s a good idea and do something about it.

I believe in this and would love to bring it to life. But I need you.


Go Halfsies

I was sent this yesterday and thought it was a clever idea. Not sure the issue of portion size is as problematic here, but its a good idea. (via TBD)

You’re massively hungry and make the impulse order, but before you know it, you’re just halfway through the bigger-than-your-face guacamole bacon burger and already stuffed. What if there was a way to channel that over-ordering toward the fight against hunger?

Enter Halfsies, a social initiative that’s helping restaurant-goers eat better, reduce food waste, and feed those in need. Patrons at participating restaurants elect to “Go Halfsies” on a menu item and receive a smaller, healthier portion of the meal. The remainder of the cost is then donated to one of Halfsies’ nonprofit partners. So, not only does your Halfsies meal save a bit of your waistline, it also helps get food on the table for those in need.

Ask your favorite food joint to jump on the Halfsies train, treat yourself, and help fill the plates of those that need it most. Mmm… now doesn’t that sound good



Have you heard about Hireland? I’m really impressed by this movement.

We all have great ideas, but what turns an idea into a movement is action. This idea, like many others, was generated over a kitchen table, spurred on by a sense of frustration that we were losing so many great, talented people to emigration. But this movement came to life because the emotion was one of frustration not anger. Anger leads to blame whereas frustration can lead to action.

So the Hireland team, people from the business world, took action. They decided the time had come:to stop waiting on a solution from the government and to take action ourselves”. They used their own spare time and resources to make this a reality and got students from Champlain College and DIT involved too. The media industry has gotten behind this with over 500K of in kind donations, creating and placing ads.

So how does it work?

Companies are asked to pledge a job on the Hireland website. Once a company pledges they will appear on the Pledgers wall and this forms part of a “a positive ripple effect for all to see”. The pledge will then become part of Hireland’s Growth index and that forms “part of a powerful voice that Ireland is open for business”.

So far 301 jobs have been pledged. If you are hiring or know someone who is….please get them to pledge here

“We aren’t in business to survive, we are in business to succeed. The time is now to invest in success and the people we hire are the most important investment we can make.”

(Hireland, Jan 2102)

Early Interventions: An Economic Approach to Charitable Giving

I read the recent Barclays Wealth report with interest. In it the report suggests that philantrhopists should take an alternative view to their giving strategy and start to look at some of the less traditional routes and instead look at more innovative routes to solving issues.

I found this interesting in isolation but then a conversation I had with someone last week about corporate charity giving suggested to me that this approach could move beyond this report into other areas of philanthropy. The conversation I had revolved around a companies charitable activity. It was suggested that companies could be or are already fed up with the traditional routes of supporting causes and in many ways they are just going through the motions. But if they were to stop and think about it they would really like to be making an impact, a real impact (yes Im back to talking impact!). The person I spoke to suggested things that are similar to this report (although on a different scale).

So with that in mind, it is well worth looking at this summary of the report and if you have time to look at the full report (here) do. I think this could really start to penetrate into broader thinking on charitable giving over the coming months and years…so how can you be a leader in this thinking?


New report highlights £100bn impact of major social issues and emphasises importance of early intervention

  • New report analyses three of society’s most difficult issues with costs approaching £100bn each year
  • Research shows early interventions can help improve economic well-being of society
  • Private funders are well placed to invest in innovative approaches to help tackle social problems
  • Early-stage preventative approaches can cost a fifth of current social support

A groundbreaking new report, published on Monday, September 19th 2011 by Barclays Wealth, highlights some of the most expensive social issues in the UK – with the combined costs identified in the report approaching £100bn each year. Taking a ‘return-on-investment’ approach to philanthropy and applying economic analysis to UK charitable giving, the report explores how private funders are well placed to help tackle the root causes of these issues. Such efforts can bring significant savings to public finance, as well as improving the lives of individuals and their economic prospects.

The report, entitled Early Interventions: An Economic Approach to Charitable Giving, was developed in association with charity think tank and consultancy New Philanthropy Capital (NPC). Using a prioritisation process to review 30 of the costliest social issues in the UK, researchers further analysed three issues in detail to understand causes and links, before looking at interventions. These three issues and their associated impact on the public purse are:

  • Children with conduct problems (£51bn)1
  • Adults out of work due to mental health problems (£45bn)
  • Chaotic families (£12bn)

Commenting on the research, Emma Turner, Director of Client Philanthropy at Barclays Wealth said: “It is clear that these three issues are proving a significant burden to the welfare state, from an economic as well as a social point of view. However, these issues don’t necessarily elicit the most generous response from private funders. The more light that is shone on these types of social issues and the impact of interventions – such as those highlighted in this research – the more chance there is of private funding being made available to help.”

Early intervention

The report argues that early intervention is vital in tackling those issues which can contribute to entrenched social problems at a later stage. Furthermore, funding early-stage, preventative approaches can bring about significant economic savings for the state.

The report identifies that there are currently 1.3 million young people in the UK with serious behavioural issues. According to one case study, the cost to society of dealing with just one individual with these problems could exceed £148,000 by the time they reach the age of 16. However, over the same time period, supporting an individual, via intensive family support, counselling in schools and Multisystemic Therapy2, could cost £32,000 – equating to nearly a fifth of the cost of current crisis services.

Iona Joy, Head of Charity Effectiveness at New Philanthropy Capital said: “A charity that helps to divert a young person from crime and into a job not only improves the lives of potential victims, members of the community, and indeed the young person in question, it can also reduce the costs of policing, courts and custody. It further helps the young person to earn a wage, pay tax and contribute to the economy. Many charities aim to improve people’s lives regardless of economic benefits, however taking an economic approach to allocating charitable funding helps us to understand the value of tackling some of the toughest social problems faced in the UK.”

Another costly issue examined in the report is adults facing employment challenges due to mental health problems. Mental health problems affect one in six adults at any one time, with costs of £45bn per year due to related unemployment and reduced productivity.

At present, there are 1.3 million people with mental health problems who rely on benefits, yet many of this group would like to return to employment. The report argues that early workplace intervention by employers could reduce this number greatly. Specialist employment support for those out of work with mental health issues, as well as supporting employers to make workplaces more conducive to good mental health, have been shown to deliver savings of up to £2.50 for every £1 invested.

A further key issue analysed in the report is chaotic families. The report estimates that 140,000 families cost society £12bn each year through reliance on public sector services and wider social costs. This figure could be greatly reduced by employing proven methods of intervention, for example, targeted support for families has an estimated cost of £19,500 for each family per year – an average saving of £40,000 annually per family. Moreover, these savings are dramatically increased in the case of the most problematic families, with savings reaching over £130,000 per year in some cases.

A compelling case for private funders

Whilst the report shows that funders can vary greatly in their style of charitable giving – in terms of time, involvement and funds at their disposal – they are now in an increasingly advantageous position to ensure the funds they invest in a philanthropic cause can make a difference. However, there are also many considerations private funders must think about when making decisions about the charitable sectors they want to fund, such as their level of ambition, their willingness to engage with other partners and their attitudes to risk.

In order to help funders decide how they are best suited to approach issues and interventions and what level of risk – or return – they are looking to take, the report outlines a framework to help donors make these decisions, based on their own ambitions and risk appetite. In addition, the report refers to distinct funder profiles, which range from the time-poor “Gift Givers” to the “Change Makers” – committed philanthropists willing to take risks on new initiatives.

Emma Turner commented: “Private funders have an unrivalled capacity to fund initiatives that the government cannot. It is now clear that there is a growing group of enlightened funders, defined as Change Makers, who understand that the current method of responding to social problems only once they reach crisis point has limited success. This group of funders is willing to take risks on new philanthropic initiatives that address the root cause of problems, rather than just the visible symptoms.

“In bringing these difficult issues, which are often neglected, to the attention of funders – we need to provide powerful reasons for why they should invest in these interventions and what they can achieve by doing so.” Emma Turner continued, “If we want to tackle some of society’s biggest problems, and persuade funders to choose routes such as early intervention funding, we have to find new and better ways of making the argument more compelling.”

1 £51bn relates to the cost of crime committed by adults who are estimated to have had conduct disorder in childhood. 80% of crime is committed by adults who had conduct problems as children, equating to around £51bn a year.
2 Multisystemic Therapy involves intensive whole-family support by a dedicated worker who visits several times a week for several months. The worker also liaises with schools and other agencies (youth offending teams, mental health services) to help solve problems in a holistic way.

Source: Barclays Wealth

Generate Action to Deliver Change


This is a really fantastic presentation by Jon Howard and to be honest isn’t just for social change, but it’s about behavioural change.


Thanks to the wonderful folks at Ask Direct for the link

Encourage Omar

This is a nice interactive campaign from Special Olympics GB, worth checking out


Outdoor ad: First United Sculptures

First United Canada wanted to show the positive impact of their work and so together with DDB they worked on a campaign that placed statues of homeless people in Vancouver. The statues actually represented real people who once were homeless and had been helped by First United.

The body sculptures were placed at three spots in the city of Vancouver t from 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Wednesday, December 8th 2010.

During the full 90 minutes, slightly more than a 1500 people walked past the 3 empty shapes of homelessness. About 80 persons actually stopped to look more closely – or at least showed signs they had noticed there was no actual person present. Six people took photos, and 7 took a slip available at the sculpture that provided the link to a facebook profile (like this). Most people were focused on getting to where they were going and took little notice of the very visible familiar yet extraordinary shape.

When i first saw it I thought it ran for longer and in more locations, but perhaps this was just a test? Its a creative way to play on some of the typical imagery of homelessness, that many homeless organisations are afraid to use, but to use those images/stereotypes to talk about impact. I would be very interested to know when they went into this campaign what they were hoping to achieve and how they measured it?

The link below shows a short video of the campaign, which is worth watching.

Outdoor ad: First United: Sculptures

I came across this on the BestAdsonTV site


Concern in Haiti, 1 year on

Concern Worldwide are a very
progressive organisation when it comes to embracing new ways to
communicate and ultimately fundraise. Yesterday to mark the first
anniversary of the Haiti disaster they went all out on Facebook,
running an awareness campaign. Neil Rooney, their e-marketing
leader, explained to me that they

… used a
Facebook specific advertising solution called a ’24 hour reach
block’. The reach block delivers the first 4-5 ad placements
someone sees when they log into Facebook and allows ad placements
in users homepage.

Here is what that looked like
when I logged in to my account Not only did they
do this but they made sure that when you got to their page on
Facebook it was all about the work they have done in Haiti,

To create awareness of the work that
Concern have been doing in Haiti we have added a ‘Haiti
update’ tab to our profile. The tab acts as the landing page for
visitors that have not previously ‘liked’ concern and outlines the
key areas that Concern and
have been working on. In addition, within the tab we
have embedded a campaign specific video that we stream from our
YouTube channel, an interactive Google map that details what has
been achieved in each location Concern is working in and twitter
feeds from @concern as well as staff we have in the field at the

Here is what the page looks like (click here to go to the actual page on
facebook) This is great
stuff by Concern, really getting to grips with the technology that
is available to them to do something really important….Talk about
the Impact. While I’m at it, kudos to Concern for the
of their website, one of the first things that
my eye was drawn to was the How Money was Spent pie on the right
hand side, and they have rightly won an award for their

Greyston Bakery

I just came across these guys via the brandgym. They are the Greyston Bakery and they make brownies….do-goodie brownies. Look at what it says on the top of their site, makes it easy to understand why they exist doesnt it!

The Budget: It was about the stories & the impact

Yesterday was budget day in Ireland. (I dont want to even talk about the mess we are in!)

I actually listened to a lot of radio shows, watched a lot of news and read a lot of online commentary and through it all I noticed two things…..It was all about the stories & the impact

Each commentary talked about people who would be affected and how they would be affected. In fact people themselves were texting radio stations and telling their stories and the impact the budget would have on them. Things like:

  • The money we lose would have bought shoes for our kids for the year
  • The money we lose is equal to a weekly shop every month

This allows you picture the impact on a family or individual. I just reminded me of the importance of telling stories and demonstrating impact.

The Wheel have published a response to the budget here if you are interested on reading it click here

The negative approach

Is one, that anyone who reads this blog will know, I am just not a fan of. So I was a little frustrated the other day when I was sent a press release and asked to post about it when the headline read one in ten to reduce charitable giving.

My initial reaction was…what about the other 9 in ten that arent planning on reducing charitable giving.

Information and press releases like these are so damaging. They do nothing to encourage giving and I think as a donor I would be a bit miffed at the fact that those that are planning on not giving (for probably great reasons) are the ones we, as a sector talk about. What about the other 9, shouldn’t we celebrate them and their giving and focus on that.

Maybe not surprsingly (to a cynic like me) this wonderful piece of research and spin was created by a company trying to flog their wares to the charity sector!

As it happens I applaud what this crowd (giveonthemobile) are trying to do, they want to provide a mobile based donation platform that is secure and simple to use. It also aims to allow charities to claim back gift aid, and anything that makes that easier has to be a good thing. They also seem to already have some very happy clients (make a wish, christain aid)

It is another mobile giving application, and I have posted about some before, but am yet to be convinced that someone would download a giving app to their phone (trust me I want to be proved wrong).

Anyway, my rant is almost over! I understand everything isn’t rosey out there (trust me!) and I know that not everyone is able to give as they used to, but I think as a sector we shouldnt accept, allow and promote the kind of headlines that giveonthemobile sent out. Its negative and does nothing to help.

(note: i had this discussion over email with giveonthemobile and explained I would be posting in this context about their release, and fair play they didnt ask me not to, I also wished them well, and still do, with this venture)