Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Toilets, ghosts and good works.

Those of you following Trevor’s great adventure with toilet roll holders may, like me, have become slightly concerned that he may have got himself locked in there, so it’s great news to hear that he is out and about doing good works. As he is hard pressed for time at the moment, I’ve volunteered to fill in for him. With the blog that is, not fitting more toilet roll holders!

For the last year or so, my website has had a weekly column called Random Ramblings, which this month has become a blog. Back on the 18th July I was talking about how some busy professionals were employing ghost bloggers, just as people have employed ghost writers over the years. Well, it seems that it is almost coming to that for Mr Gay!

Like Trevor, I am involved in various voluntary activities. A couple of weeks back we had an email exchange about the pleasures of working for no financial reward. Trevor talked about the joys of working in a voluntary organisation, offering one’s services for free and the great sense of doing something really important, something hugely rewarding.

From my perspective I felt it demonstrated that money is a necessary evil, rather than something most of are particularly bothered about for its own sake. Job satisfaction – feeling that you are making a difference is far more important. Maybe more employers should capitalize on this, not as a means of under-rewarding staff but to get a greater contribution from them. Trevor often talks about letting the front line get on with things, as they are the experts. I totally agree. By trusting people and giving them as much responsibility as they want and are capable of handling, they are likely to be happier people. And it is said that happy employees mean happy customers.

It never ceases to amaze me just how many people in the UK are involved with voluntary activities of one sort or another, and how many organisations doing fantastic work rely largely or entirely on donations to enable them to keep going. It is also revealing how many high profile people support voluntary organisations, both with money and with their time. Much of this is done in a distinctly low profile way that doesn’t make it into the media.

Many years ago I heard a story about the newspaper magnate, Roy Thomson, later to become Baron Thomson of Fleet. He was asked to help a charity. He declined to give money as that was easy for a rich person. Instead he offered his time, which to him was a far more valuable commodity. I am sure that Trevor would agree at the moment.

David Wike


Ruth said...

I miss the work of voluntary .. time has it's boundaries and sleep apparently is necessary !!

Good to hear your views David are you sure Trevor is not really locked 'in there' :-D lol

I think you raise many arguments with the mention of money & charity.

Whilst many choose to support, donate and champion I do wonder at internal sustainability .. can charities rely on their campaigns for financial revenue indefinitely ...

David Wike said...

Hi Ruth,

Unless Trevor followed my suggestion to set up office in his new loo, he has definitely escaped as we’ve exchanged several emails.

However, I think he’s now been taken prisoner by his charity, trying to help sort out their financial problems. As Roy Thomson indicated, time is the most valuable commodity for many people, although I suspect that many of us could use it more efficiently – I certainly could.

Your point about sustainability is very valid and in fact some charities do not survive. Many are set up by people who are well meaning, but who lack the skills to manage them in a professional way. Many voluntary organisations are now seeking assistance from people with business experience to strengthen their management structures.

I think that the high profile charities will always find enough willing volunteers, but I imagine that many smaller ones depend on a few dedicated supporters, and if they should leave for any reason, the organisation is likely to struggle. But looking positively at the situation, the UK has a fantastic record in terms of people giving generously of both time and money to help worthwhile causes.

Trevor Gay said...

Great points Ruth and David .. I am watching ...But not from the toilet!! :-)

Ruth said...

It's good to know that they are gradually seeking this advice, I hope, as in business they also look to find advice & ideas on advertsing stratgies that compliment/strengthen their trading reputation... I certainly don't envy those involved in publicising emotive campaigns that ask only for money.

Of course the alternative, although possibly less direct can take time, patience & more manpower .. fingers crossed they opt for ground floor & front line activities first though, they are much more fun :-D

David Wike said...

Promoting a charity or a business is a challenge. It is all too easy to spend money on advertising that has little benefit. Any promotional activity needs to be carefully targeted, and then the benefits must be measured to enable adjustments to be made if necessary. The most powerful promotional tool in any field is a good reputation, leading to word of mouth endorsements. But as you say Ruth, that takes time and patience. It needs to be a long term strategy.