The Taming of the Shrewd


Episode 1: Turning to Trading

Season 1, Ep. 1

Fran Ferris-Ockwell joins us for our very first episode to discuss how you can build trading activity and earned income streams alongside your fundraising activity.

Fran is the CEO of Nomad Opening Doors, a housing charity in Sheffield (though she's leaving in a few months and joining the Lime Green Consulting team). A few years ago, Nomad faced a funding crisis that threatened the charity's existence. Fran explains how she worked with their trustees and staff to build support for developing a trading arm, and how this has transformed Nomad - not just their financial position, but staff morale, relationships with supporters and the charity's entire culture.

We discussed how lots of people may perceive trading as 'too risky' and worry that they don't have the necessary skills, when in reality they're probably better equipped to succeed than they think.

Fran shared her three key actionable steps with listeners:

  1. Getting colleagues and trustees on Board with the idea when they may initially be reluctant
  2. Finding your trading idea or specialism 'close to home' to give you the best possible chance of success
  3. Sourcing support with the practicalities and legalities of setting things up

If you're interested in exploring this further, here are a few helpful resources, several of which Fran mentions in the episode:

More Episodes


Episode 6: Measuring & Benchmarking Return On Investment

Season 1, Ep. 6
Measuring your return on investment (ROI) in fundraising can help you to evaluate your performance, predict future income and budget more effectively. And if this seems really complicated, it doesn't have to be.For Episode 6, I interviewed career fundraiser Caroline Danks, who recently published a report gathering return on investment data across the charity sector. Caroline and I discussed what exactly ROI means, and why some people resist measuring it, but why it's so important for good fundraising, budgeting and strategic planning.Caroline explains to listeners how to:Put in place a system for measuring ROI (including how to categorise income and measure time spent in different areas)Benchmark your performance against others in the sector, and use this as a point of comparison for evaluating performance and predicting future incomeUse the information in Caroline's report to look for 'missed opportunities', for example legacy fundraisingYou can download Caroline's report on fundraising ROI, called The Calm Before The Storm, from LarkOwl's website: also this blog where I shared some previous thoughts on fundraising ROI: our podcast? Please leave us a five-star review (other numbers of stars available at your discretion) via the Acast app or here on Google. We'd also love to hear your suggestions for future topics and guests for the podcast. We have one more episode coming up in November 2020, then we'll be taking a short break before returning with a new series in January/February 2021.

Episode 5: Crisis Comms

Season 1, Ep. 5
A familiar face for Episode 5 - Gemma Pettman, good friend of Lime Green Consulting and trainer at our regular fundraising strategy and trusts and foundations training courses. Gemma's also an independent accredited PR expert and joined us to discuss an important topic - how should charities and social enterprises communicate when bad news strikes?Gemma gave us a whistle-stop tour of her approach to crisis comms, including:The different types of crises that typically hit organisations, and how you can work together as a team to create a list of scenarios to prepare forPlanning in advance for a crisis - who to communicate with, what to say, how to use social media and the press, and practising your key messagesAssessing a live situation - how do you decide when to respond and what to say? how do you avoid making the situation worse? how can you turn some crises into an opportunity?Looking after your people - how to support staff who are on the 'front line' of a crisis, and how to follow up after a crisis passesWe discussed how good crisis comms is crucial for building and maintaining trust with supporters, why organisations are often put off planning in advance, how social media has changed the nature of crisis comms, and how many organisations have successfully turned a crisis into a fundraising opportunity.If you're interested in learning more, Gemma kindly recommended a few follow-up resources for listeners:A best practice guide to crisis communications for charities by Charity Comms: Sugden's blog about how you can deal with a positive ‘crisis’: examples of successful fundraising in response to a crisis: the RNLI after Tory MPs' criticism of its overseas work and the National Trust in response to a fire at its historic Clandon Park siteThanks to Gemma for her typically cheerful and expert insight. You can find out more about her PR work here:

Episode 4: A Fresh Approach to Risk Management in Fundraising

Season 1, Ep. 4
Ed Wyatt is one of a very small number of risk management and compliance experts in fundraising. He's worked with several of the UK's household name charities to introduce a fresh and more positive approach to risk management.While he's passionate about his work, Ed is the first to admit that risk management can be boring! Too often it's seen and done as an unbearable tickbox exercise which squashes and dilutes the most exciting fundraising ideas. But there is another way to tackle risk management, which can enhance and protect your charity's reputation, and empower you to confidently create new fundraising products and engage newsupporter groups.Ed and I talked about the importance of defining your organisation's "risk appetite" - in order words, how much risk your organisation is willing to stomach. This must align with your organisation's mission, rather than the personal opinions of individuals. We wandered slightly off topic to talk about the complicated world of creating a gift acceptance policy, something that has since become very topical in the wake of the toppling of Edward Colston's statue in Bristol.Ed also talks us through how to identify risks that you are willing to live with, and put in place sensible and manageable controls to reduce those risks. I shared my own experience from 10 years ago of running one of the UK's largest student fundraising events, and the risks and rewards that came with it.Finally, Ed shared some practical tips about how you can keep learning and improving your approach to risk management over time, without making it too complicated or unwieldy.Since recording this podcast, I've written some more detailed thoughts about "hypocritical philanthropy" and deciding which grants to accept: and I previously shared some more thoughts about risk management in this blog, which we refer to during the podcast: