Two weeks ago today, I went to a great seminar by Charity Comms about how to align your brand with your fundraising. For those of you who don't work in charities, let me explain. The relationship between brand and fundraising teams in charities is often challenging. Brand teams are seen as police, blocking creativity and failing to understand the tactics that drive income. Fundraising teams are perceived to be short-term and tactical, who see donors as purses first and people second.
Neither perception is true. Both cause huge amounts of pain and conflict when it comes to getting work out the door. And it's not only in charities where such conflict exists. There is often a perceived tension between activities that are seen to drive income and those that will build your brand (and the teams responsible). Even if you're a small business or organisation, you may be torn as to where to invest your time or money.
However in this world of all access, 24/7 channels, increased competition and short attention plans, a divided approach is not sustainable. Frankly, all your activities need to build your brand AND keep the money coming in.
Some organisations have managed to make it work. To rise above traditional departmental silos and truly integrate their approach. At the event, we heard case studies from the Stroke Association and Prostate Cancer UK. The lessons learnt aren't just relevant to brand and fundraising. They apply wherever you have competing priorities, multiple objectives and passionate people who are expert in what they do. It's about embracing conflict and making room for it in your work, so that you can benefit from different personalities and skills and most importantly, get stuff done.
So here are my top 5 tips on making conflict work for you
(With thanks to Stroke Association and Prostate Cancer UK for sharing the learnings which inspired this post.)
- Accept that conflict is inevitable - and acknowledge it
Different skillsets, different priorities and passionate people mean that we won't always agree. And that's fine. Address preconceptions and assumptions up front. Seek to understand where these differences are coming from. Are concerns valid? Is it helpful to explore assumptions further? If not, move on.
- Actively respect the strengths of others and invite them in
I've said it before but no-one knows everything. And when someone has a very different skillset to you, it's easy to dismiss their expertise. But do so to your peril. Working with like minds is great, but involving people who think differently will help you explore all options.
- Set clear boundaries based on areas of expertise
We all know how difficult it is to navigate feedback or input in a sea of conflicting opinion. So make sure you are clear what you're seeking input on and allow people to lead with their expertise, not just offer an opinion.
- Create shared objectives
This works in 2 ways. It makes sure everyone is accountable and allows you to share success (or learnings if things don't quite go as planned).
- Make collaboration a way of working, not a one-off
This is really important. A collaborative approach will draw in different viewpoints and while it's great to bring everyone together for an all-day brainstorm, it's not feasible to do every day. Taking an inclusive approach can't be a one-time thing so find ways to involve diverse opinions and build it into your process. Make workshopping the way you do things, rather than having long meetings. And allow time to share, listen, co-create and feedback.
That's it. Yes, it's lovely when we all get along. But maybe it's when we don't that the great stuff happens and we make real progress.
Collaboration is what we do. If you'd like to work with us, do get in touch!
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