What is a Fundraiser

After two years of trying I finally landed my dream job as Community Fundraiser at Maggie’s Cancer Care in Edinburgh, The Lothians and Borders. (also Dumfries & Galloway!)

I’ve learned a lot on the past 8 weeks and I am sure it’s only the beginning but there are a two main things that have continued to rear their heads.

One is the amount of people I meet that want my job, it makes me feel very fortunate to be in a job which is in such high demand and I feel even prouder that I managed to stand out during the interview process.

The other thing that I am always asked is whether or not the job is full time or just something on the side.

What do these two things add up to? Well I think it comes down to people not really knowing what is involved in being a professional fundraiser. As I said at the start of the post, I have been learning so much over the past two months and I have a long way to go, I don’t however feel that fundraising is something you ever master, yes you can have specific messages and dynamic approaches to it but I believe that to be successful you must always be ahead of the game and willing to learn.

Our director of Fundraising wrote a post on what makes a someone a successful fundraiser and I think he has pretty much nailed it with this post.

Let me know what you think! Simple when you think about it but at the same time much more challenging that many people believe.

I once saw a job description for a fundraiser that was 7 pages long. The only thing they didn’t want to know in the person spec was their DNA.

Pages of specifics are not what’s required to find a great fundraiser. In the map we think we build for ourselves of roles, tasks, descriptions, specifications, must have’s and desirables its easy to get lost in what really matters. Some of us need the comfort of a checklist. Others find the flush of instinct and the flutter of your heart is all that’s needed. We wrestle with the experienced but frankly wrong candidate , the inexperienced and still wrong candidate and the bright spark of hope,  with no experience but all the potential. When we look at them do we see the example we want to see, the moment of warmth yet determination, the getting it bit, the confidence they can run and walk and stop when they need to and to move something on, to not just deliver but exceed?. Do we see the conscientious individual – able to wash up at the end of the evening rather than leave someone else with the mess? Some will score on the list. Some will score in the heart. Some will score in both.

Take a step back and secretly write down this list. If you are looking for a great fundraiser do you see these qualities? Some or all? A good mix maybe? The potential? The core that fits your team and the talent you can build with. And if you are a fundraiser or want to be, do you see these qualities in you? How would you make them shine?

So here are my 10 essential qualities of a great fundraiser…

  1. An inspirer– understands, harnesses and uses passion, connected to the cause, has a vision and a light
  2. An artist – sees the role and themselves as art, a beautiful thing, crafted and enjoyed
  3. An organiser – of themselves and others and gets things done, plans, see ahead, in front and behind, on time , records stuff that matters
  4. An interpreter – translates needs, desires and language to make things possible, hears more than speaks
  5. A connector – brings people together, finds networks, connections, openings, opportunities
  6. A story-teller – captivating others with the art of telling and listening to stories, collects them, writes them, speaks them
  7. A critic – curious, able to question, analyse, enquire, improve and refine
  8. A coach – helps make people and things better, helps others and themselves
  9. A collaborator – a team member, a gang member, a player, adds to the power of being together
  10. A builder – practical, does the job, like to roll their sleeves up , then take a step back, lean on the shovel and smile with pride

It’s a simple list. It’s not rocket science. It’s not DNA. Its human.

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Motivational Speaking

Earlier in 2012 I gave a presentation to 350 people at the annual Scottish Night of Adventure, hosted by Alastair Humphreys.
Hope you enjoy the video…

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Coping with Extreme Heat & Dehydration

Today I have the pleasure of posting a guest article by Mark Lyons, or on twitter as @runner786 

I have followed Mark on Twitter for a good while now and find his level of knowledge in so many disciplines very useful. A climber, kayaker, runner and a whole lot more than that his website is full of inspiration, comedy and useful articles.

See it by clicking HERE

Enjoy todays article on coping with EXTREME  hear and dehydration…

Coping with extreme heat and hydration

I do not write this article on the premise  that I am any kind of expert. I write as someone who over the past 20 years has survived in some of the world’s most inhospitable places and latterly raced/ran in extreme environment ultra-running events where my knowledge of surviving in the intense heat has again been tested, this time to achieve better performance rather than just staying alive.

As an expedition kayaker/climber I have had to be self-sufficient for long periods of time and have researched the effects heat has on the body for more years than I now care to admit. Some of the advice I have taken and the conclusions I have drawn have worked well for me and others have not. I have developed my own practices based on years of my own experience and what I write below is knowledge based on what “works” for me … my advice to anyone reading this is to utilise it as part of your own research and to try it out for yourself in advance of any situation/event that may hinge on your individual hydration plan.          

Heat and hydration: the facts

The human body, although able to survive comfortably for over a month without food, can last only a few days without water, as humans have no way of storing fluid for any longer. We are not camels; there is no hump on our back that we can fill with a month’s supply at any opportunity. Evolution has shaped us in our ability to find regular fresh water . This is to our advantage until we head to where heat is extreme and water is in short supply. In these environments hydration is essential for our bodies wellbeing; it can be the difference between life or death in extreme situations. Water helps regulate our temperature through sweat, which in turn evaporates to cool the blood flowing close to the skin, and when we exert ourselves in hot environments, we sweat a lot! This causes dehydration fast and without regular fluid replenishment our performance will suffer. Left unchecked the body will dehydrate and ultimately overheat. Symptoms can include dark urine, headaches, nausea, dizziness, hallucinations and bad diahorea . The loss of fluids also goes hand in hand with electrolyte loss and these vital salts must also be replenished.

And to make it even more complicated, as ultra runners we run over these hostile environments trying to eek our every last kilojoule of energy to get a good result in our chosen extreme race. At these times, hydration can be the deciding factor in the fine line of reaching peak performance or crashing into the abyss of fatigue and failure.

How to get the best out of your performance in extreme conditions

Dealing with extreme heat is all about the conservation and supply of water. This is the single most important factor to consider when out in the heat and my first piece of very simple advice is to cover up! Not just a hat, consider a long sleeve top and even tights. This one act will keep the skin cooler, hence your blood will cool faster and in turn reduce your need to sweat. A light wicking base layer is actually cooler than bare skin in the direct sun. Not only will it save you from sunburn, but the wicking layer spreads your sweat and gives you a larger cooling area. Some prefer a looser layer so try it and see what works best for you. Either way you will appreciate the difference. The use of a “soak” can help and these can be something as simple as a cotton neck chief regularly soaked in water or the new breed of water absorbing gel variety that retain the water and help to keep you cool for up to two hours.

In the extreme heat and dry climate of the desert a supply of water is required at all times and it needs to be easily accessible. One of the main causes of dehydration when we have adequate water available is a person’s own laziness and a hard to reach bottle can be the culprit. Even the most disciplined of us will find it all too easy to put off taking a drink if it’s difficult to reach, especially when suffering fatigue during a hard days running. So make sure water is easily accessible to avoid this.  Bottle belts, integrated bladder systems and shoulder bottles will keep water at hand, so try to use these. My advice in the desert is to drink small amounts regularly and to be aware of your own thirst. The body will signal in plenty of time when to drink, you just need to be aware of it and to react when it tells you . During my own desert runs I had permanent dry lips and throat so I had to constantly sip small amounts just to stop the dry cough and my lips cracking. This seemed to take care of my requirements, others set their watch on an interval alarm so they knew it was time to take a sip.  At all times remember to monitor your own intake against what is left in your supply and adjust your effort level accordingly. You need to make it to your goal and pacing yourself according to your fluid intake may be required.

Always remember  your electrolyte replacement when filling water bottles. Be it salt tabs taken separately from your water or a Nuun/High5 water dissolvable tablet , it’s very important. One of my very fit tent mates in the Marathon des Sable had a habit of forgetting his salt tablets and on day four I caught up with him while running across a long desert plain. As unusual as it was for me to catch a runner of his calibre, it wasn’t as crazy as the dance he appeared to be doing in front of me, hands in the air, shake them like you just don’t care! As I gained on him, I saw why he was repeatedly shaking them in the air, they were like huge fat pork sausages! He had left his salt tabs to late and had an electrolyte imbalance causing extremity fluid retention. 20 minutes later he recovered and left me for dust, literally.

The lure of high altitude races in the Himalaya and even hot alpine forays can bring other factors into the mix and dehydration at altitude can be caused simply by breathing. At only six-thousand feet you exhale and perspire moisture twice as fast as you do at sea level. The reduced air pressure allows increased evaporation from your skin and lungs, the higher you go the worse it becomes. Running, kayaking and even the slow progress of mountaineering is eating up the body’s water supply FAST ! At high altitude the body can delay in sending out the signal that it needs fluid, so careful attention to your hydration plan is required even when you’re not exerting yourself.

I personally suffered from bad dehydration while on an expedition in the Himalaya, sat in a kayak at 17,000 feet surrounded by water and yet I was unable to drink a drop due to the high silt concentration, think dark grey liquid mud. The particular section I was kayaking down was so full on that I was constantly fighting to stay upright and keep my lines. Stopping to drink fresh water was far from my mind and the headache that I thought was the cold water constantly engulfing me was actually the onset of dehydration. This happened in the space of an hour and gave me the shock of my life when I suffered a bout of dizziness as I swung into a must make eddy above a huge siphon. Dizzily swirling around trying to stay upright next to certain death is something to reinforce the need to hydrate, I’ll tell you.

My final piece of advice is that if you should suffer some kind of dehydration effects, be it the first signs of mild dehydration or the initial stages of heat stroke, then please sip the water slowly, no guzzling. Take slow regular sips until you feel yourself getting back to normal.

Have Fun.



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ASICS Gel Cumulus 13 – REVIEW

Asics Gel Cumulus 13 –

Runner – Mark Cooper

Size – 8

Weight – 335 Grams

Style – Neutral

The Asics Cumulus 13 is a great shoe which is relatively lightweight for a shoe with such fantastic cushioning. I do a lot of trail running so usually favour a pair more fitting to the terrain. However, I was keen to move my focus for the next twelve months to road running and in particular, get PB’s in all distances.

I wore the Cumulus to the Jog Scotland 5k last week and began the race not expecting much chance of a new PB. I ended up setting a new PB with a time of 18 minutes 20 seconds. The running shoes felt great all the way around and given the difficult conditions and muddy corners stood up well with my feet remaining dry. I was delighted with my new PB and I do feel that the shoe had a part to play in it.

Overall I would recommend the Cumulus to runners of all levels, the only negative I could come up with was perhaps a mid sole that was slightly on the rigid side. I am pretty much struggling to find anything else wrong with the shoe.

Also a note that I have wide feet and these felt very comfortable when they were on with a large toe guard incase you fancied having a run on the trail in them.

A very good and versatile shoe which I am confident will help me reach my goal of PB’s in every distance.


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Guest Blog – David Haas – Fitness Fun with Cancer

This is a guest blog post by David Haas from The Mesotheliona Cancer Alliance

I really believe in the content of the site so was happy for David to come on here with a post. You can follow David on Twitter – HERE

Fitness Fun With Cancer

Cancer is not a diagnosis anyone wants to receive. Just hearing the word can bring on a debilitating fear. But that doesn’t have to be the case. A person who has just been told they have skin or even mesothelioma cancer can choose how they will handle receiving such a diagnosis.

Getting cancer is something one cannot control and should not be where a person puts their energy. Instead, energy needs to be put into doing things that will make a person feel better about themselves, yet is still fun too. Fitness is perfect for not only helping the body get back into a balanced state of healing; it can also be a way to have fun and forget about any problems one may be facing.

Let’s talk about some of the ways a person dealing with cancer can bridge the gap between fitness and fun.

Exploring the City

Walking is a great way to get the body moving and can be done by anyone, no matter their fitness level. There are bound to be unexplored areas of the city in which a person lives. Taking a walk around those areas can provide a new perspective on the city. And it doesn’t have to be walking around the whole city; a person could just walk around their neighborhood, leaving each day headed in a different direction. It will burn calories while at the same time help to focus the mind on the beauty surrounding them rather than on cancer.

Sign up for a Fitness Class

Fitness classes are easy to find because they are everywhere. Whether it is the local YMCA or a fitness studio in the area, be sure to pick a class that seems interesting. If a person likes to be in the water, there are fantastic aquatic classes that are great for fitness level and easier on the joints. Or maybe a person has always wanted to take a kickboxing class, this would be the perfect time to sign up.

Join a Gym

A fitness center can be the best of all worlds for some. Any good fitness center will have a large selection of exercise equipment, including everything from stationary bikes to free hand weights. In addition, one should check to see if there are group classes available that are included as a part of the membership fee.

The key to making fitness fun is to find something that is enjoyable, because then it won’t feel like exercise. No one says a person has to pick one fitness regimen and stick to it forever; the fun part will be in trying out new things and discovering what one prefers to do in order to stay physically fit.

A person should never let something like a cancer diagnosis stop them from continuing to live their life as if it will continue on for many years to come. Fitness needs to be a priority for everyone, whether they are suffering from cancer or not.

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Steve Jobs Stanford Commencment Speech 2005

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college.  Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation.  Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born.  My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption.  She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife.  Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl.  So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: “We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?”  They said: “Of course.”  My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school.  She refused to sign the final adoption papers.  She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college.  But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents’ savings were being spent on my college tuition.  After six months, I couldn’t see the value in it.  I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out.  And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life.  So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK.  It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made.  The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn’t all romantic.  I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple.  I loved it.  And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on.  Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country.  Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed.  Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this.  I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great.  It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life.  But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me.  And we designed it all into the Mac.  It was the first computer with beautiful typography.  If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts.  And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them.  If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do.  Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college.  But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.  So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.  You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.  This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life.  Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20.  We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees.  We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30.  And then I got fired.  How can you get fired from a company you started?  Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well.  But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out.  When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him.  So at 30 I was out.  And very publicly out.  What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn’t know what to do for a few months.  I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down – that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me.  I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly.  I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley.  But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did.  The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit.  I had been rejected, but I was still in love.  And so I decided to start over.

I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.  The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything.  It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife.  Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world.  In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple’s current renaissance.  And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple.  It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it.  Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick.  Don’t lose faith.  I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did.  You’ve got to find what you love.  And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers.  Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.  And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.  If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.  As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on.  So keep looking until you find it.  Don’t settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.”  It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”  And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.  Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.  You are already naked.  There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer.  I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas.  I didn’t even know what a pancreas was.  The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months.  My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor’s code for prepare to die.  It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months.  It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family.  It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day.  Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor.  I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery.  I had the surgery and I’m fine now.

This was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope it’s the closest I get for a few more decades.  Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die.  Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there.  And yet death is the destination we all share.  No one has ever escaped it.  And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life.  It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away.  Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.  Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.  Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.  And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.  They somehow already know what you truly want to become.  Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation.  It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch.  This was in the late 1960’s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras.  It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue.  It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age.  On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous.  Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”  It was their farewell message as they signed off.  Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.  And I have always wished that for myself.  And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry.  Stay Foolish.

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50 marathons in 56 days VIDEO

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