Steve L. takes inspiration from an enormous pair of thighs
If you’re indifferent to the imminent London Olympics, or struggling to remember what all the fuss is about, you could do worse than casting your mind back to Beijing four years ago and in particular the exhilarating, astonishing performance of the GB cycling team. In the velodrome Team GB triumphed in seven of the ten events, in the process winning more cycling gold medals than in the 15 previous Olympiads combined.
The names Wiggins, Pendleton and Hoy became part of our collective sporting consciousness and, almost unbelievably, here was finally a global mass participation sport in which GB were not just the best, but completely dominant. What a difference from the frightened millionaires currently tripping over each other’s egos in Poland and Ukraine.
You can remind yourself of Chris Hoy’s amazing triumph here:
So how did it happen? How were our track cyclists transformed from also-rans and wannabes into perhaps the most formidable sporting team ever to leave these shores? Well, according to team coach Dave Brailsford, nothing more remarkable than a painstaking, almost obsessive attention to detail. As Brailsford put it:
“It was attention to detail that gave us the advantage over the other teams. We considered everything, even the smallest improvements, to give us a competitive edge. It was the accumulation of these small details that made us unbeatable.”
Applying the same rigour to our fundraising won’t win us any gold medals, but it can reap equally impressive rewards in terms of results.
Is the salutation on your letter right? Have you acknowledged your donor’s most recent gift, told them what it helped achieve? Have you tested whether your supporters respond better to a PPI or 'live' stamp? Does a message on the BRE encourage or put people off? Sometimes it’s tempting to think that stuff like this doesn’t matter – after all (whisper it) when you've been doing it for a while, some of the minutae of producing a DM appeal can be quite, well, boring. Which makes it hard work. And nobody ever won a marketing award for playing back to a donor their gift aid history. But as Dave Brailsford will tell you it's about the accumulation of tiny advantages; when you get all the little things performing to their best the bigger picture can take care of itself.
There is, however, a caveat. All the attention to detail in the world isn’t going to help one bit if you’re not working with the right raw materials. For team GB it was these:
Our raw materials are our proposition and our beneficiaries' stories. A rigorous attention to detail can bring the best out of these thighs/stories and deliver the gold medals/income that matters.
Next Week: How fundraising is actually a little bit like the mating ritual of an Indonesian mountain goat.