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  • 30 Nov 2015
    Partnerships between local charities, businesses and larger organisations can have mutual benefits for all parties involved, but many local groups tell us they have a hard time making these partnerships a reality. Networking and finding the right people to engage with is crucial - whether your organisation is looking to secure extra funding, co-operate on service delivery or even pool resources.  Have you ever been asked for a specific name when phoning an organisation, rather than being able to be put through to a department, or a secretary of a Manager? It was something I constantly encountered and fell foul of working in my first Business Development job, before I discovered Linkedin. Now it’s a piece of cake to find out exactly who I need to speak to within a department of a company. I’ve even found tricks to use Linkedin for more than just searching for a name. There’s a kind of art to using the social media site and a respectability within business, which allows us to use it for networking. In this blog I’m going to share some of my Linkedin tricks, so you and your group can also benefit. I should start off by saying, that not everyone needs a Premium, paid for account, to make the most of Linkedin. Actually, very few people do. Despite what looks like an all singing all dancing resource, for many small charities and community groups with limited finances, a standard account will more than do. 1. Numbers count  One of the useful things to look for in a well networked contact is the number of connections they have. This will always show as “500+” on their profile, if you’re not connected. Connecting with these people can give you access to a huge range of people with expertise and knowledge that can really benefit your group. 2. Building your network  Connecting with one individual enables you to easily link with their colleagues, board members and other people with a close relationship to that company. Once you have this initial contact all of these other people become “2nd degree contacts”. As a result, you end up getting a branching effect, that after a while turns into a much wider network. 3. The higher the better? It is worth noting that the most senior members of an organisation are not always the decision makers. However, being linked to a Chairman, or CEO means you’re far more likely to be accepted as a Connection by those who are. 4. Board members are frequently members of multiple boards Linkedin can also be useful for approaching those senior members of an organisation. Establishing these links makes it far easier to ask them to support your cause, financially or otherwise at a later date. Board members are frequently members of multiple boards. Linking with these individuals will therefore give you access to numerous useful contacts across different organisations. 5. Groups Another excellent way to build your network, is to join relevant groups. In my experience, once you are in a group, speculative requests to connect are far more positively received. Moreover, using your group as a means to publish posts is a great way to become better known. 6. The all important Profile This brings me onto your profile itself. People will want to see if you could be a valuable connection to them. For this reason it's advisable to use the mantra of - if you wouldn’t put it on your CV, don’t put it on your profile. The same goes for your picture. Make it professional and explain what you’ve done in other roles, rather than just listing them. While I wouldn’t advocate putting every job you’ve ever had on your profile, a wide range of roles does help to link you to others. For some 2nd degree contacts and other wider contacts, your “Done Business With” drop down tab will allow you to send an invitation. 7. Sharing works for everyone One of the areas people often feel hesitant about is adding a connection who could be considered competition, be it for funding or clients. Don’t be! Generally speaking, while they will have access to your connections, you will also have access to theirs and that could be very valuable. Particularly in the charitable and voluntary sector, people often share knowledge. A partnership that could be useful to you, may already have been developed by a competitor who couldn’t make use of it themselves. Information sharing is useful to all of us. Of course all of this comes with a very large caveat that a partnership can never be purely online. What Linkedin does best is let you know a little about the person you want to speak to. Even if you’re simply looking up a job title on Google, putting in Linkedin at the end of your search could really help. Sometimes my first point of call is simply to search for a company in a geographical area to get an understanding of its structure and personnel. However you use Linkedin, it is a great thing to have in your networking armoury.
    1582 Posted by Katie Ford
  • 22 Jan 2016
     One of Scotland’s most celebrated sons talked of things, wee, sleekit, cow'rin and tim'rous. But unlike one of Rabbie Burns’ most famous poems, Scottish fundraisers and donors, aren’t at all like the small mouse he described. Those who fundraise and who donate in Scotland, don’t cower away from doing so. Nor do they do it timidly.They certainly don’t seem to do so in ‘wee’ amounts either. Variety and Depth   Localgiving’s members work vigorously to support their communities throughout Scotland, they show the variety and depth of all that is good about us as a country and people - from the young in the North East, such as Brechin Youth Project, to the elderly in the South West, like Cowal Elderly Befrienders.  Even in areas such as sport or culture, there is great variety. In the same city, we have sports groups ranging from Glasgow Girls Football Club to Tir Conaill Harps. One using modern sport, one using traditional celtic sports, both having a huge impact on the community. What I see in the groups in Scotland using Localgiving to fundraise, couldn’t be further from “a panic in thy breastie”. They just seem to get the job done, even if the best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley. A Proud Scot While our groups differ in their services, causes and fundraising activities, their reach is always local. As you can imagine, I gain a great sense of pride in seeing new groups joining us and Localgiving’s presence in Scotland grow. As a proud Scot myself, with family spread far and wide across the country - it’s a wonderful feeling to see charity at work.   We’re a nation that has links across the world - people from far a wide have their roots on our shores. I can’t think of a better way to connect back home than to support charities who can do so much with even a little. So this Burns Night, while you raise a glass to your haggis, why not raise one to a local group and donate as well? You can search for a charity near you HERE. Our love for you really would be like a red, red rose!     Image: Statue of Robert Burns in Dumfries town centre. Taken by Ron Waller. Sculpture by Amelia Hill
    1398 Posted by Katie Ford
  • 03 Jun 2016
    Film plots, tend to have an interesting structure, which when broken down aren’t so far away from the journey a charitable group goes on - from fundraising to delivery. In films, it’s usually fairly evident from the outset what it is our heroes are trying to achieve. It’s usually something specific and tangible. What the film will usually do is have you leave the cinema, or finish watching the film, feeling uplifted - you have witnessed and been moved by the impact of the hero's actions. The great privilege of working for Localgiving, is that I have the opportunity to see and understand the impact that our groups have. Not only the difference that they make to the people who come into contact with them for a specific service, but the lasting impact and the domino effect it can have on those around who the group are serving. It is easy to become so involved in our day to day tasks, from paperwork to online tasks, that we lose sight of our goals. It is essential that charities take the time to remember what they’ve achieved and what they’ll achieve in the future - and then take the time to remind supporters. Many groups do not even realise the long-term impact that they’re having. It is always useful for charitable groups to make sure that their donors are aware of the impact, both long and short term, that their donations are having. Their donation could have provided one counselling session, a befriender, a football field or an essential piece of school equipment. It could have provided the one thing that changes someone’s life forever - it could be start of something really incredible. If you keep sight of your goals and the impact you have, in what can sometimes be a long process, then from my experience, you will never lose motivation.   Image: Katie carries the Olympic flame through Camden, London in 2012
    730 Posted by Katie Ford
Tips & guides 2,139 views Feb 23, 2016
Big Strong Hearts: Training Tips for your Charity Challenge

There is a scientific difference between training well for physical challenges and training really well for physical challenges. Luckily, you also don’t need to be on an elite athlete training programme to make the jump.

In this guide I’ll share my 3 best tips for approaching any physical charity challenge, taken from my own training as an Ultra-Marathon Cyclist.

1. Know your heart

 

People who run marathons for charity, don’t just have a big heart metaphorically, they are also likely to have a big heart literally. Generally your body pumps blood round your body efficiently in one of two ways.

  1. Distance athletes like marathon runners develop a larger heart through training, so the amount of blood pumped with one beat will be slightly more.
  2. Athletes who have a strength focus will have a physically smaller heart, but the walls of the heart will be more muscular, so they pump blood with more force.

Of course the ideal scenario is to have both size and muscle, so balance out your training with some strengthening exercises, or endurance exercise depending on your challenge. The only thing to be wary of for endurance athletes is not to carry excess muscle weight. For runners, planking is great because it works your core without adding too much muscle weight onto your legs.

2. Don’t get injured

The majority of muscle injuries are entirely preventable and the more you look after your muscles and joints, the better condition you’ll be in for your challenge.
The first tip here is obvious, make sure you warm up. It can be difficult if you lead a busy life, but it’s worth every minute. Secondly, stretching will help to prevent muscle tears.

Make sure you stretch before you train and after, as each has its own purpose.

  1. Stretching prior to training makes your muscles more malleable. Think about the idea of stretching an elastic band to its limit when it’s cold – your muscles work in a very similar way. 
  2. Stretching after training has a warming effect on your muscles. This helps with circulation and takes away toxins like lactic acid that will have built up during your training. This makes you less likely to cramp after exercise. Drinking plenty water also helps with this.

3. Remember why you’re doing your challenge

While physical strength is all well and good, remembering why you’re doing your challenge in the first place can really help - not only with training, but also during the toughest parts of your challenge. When you’re almost at breaking point, a bit of inspiration can really help you get through the most painful moments.

Keeping your goal in mind will give you will power on those cold mornings when you need to go out and train. It’s not easy to get up and train, when you’re curled up warm in your bed. But thinking of the end result and why you’re raising the money in the first place always helps. Just think mind over matter!

 

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