One of the problems about writing a regular column is the lead-time needed. As a result, this is being written more than a week in advance and there is always the danger that what I write about has been overtaken by events.
Unless something changes in those eight days, then almost to the day that this copy of Third Sector hits the doormats, the result of the ballot to strike by the postal workers should be known. If the ballot result is to strike then a further week's notice needs to be given to Royal Mail, resulting in a strike starting sometime around 25 September.
This is just in time for the Labour Party Conference and suddenly it all looks very likely indeed.
The disruption that such a strike would cause is enormous. This is not just because of the disruption to the smooth running of our charities and businesses, but because now is a really critical time for fundraising.
After the quiet period of the summer, the direct mail campaigns pick up with a real purpose. Many charities generate a large part of their direct mail income at this time of year and for some it is second only to the Christmas period in terms of importance.
We are trying to establish just how much such a strike could cost charities and make sure that the damage to good causes is well understood by all sides in the dispute. Any charities or direct mail companies with figures for their own business, please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org
For the Institute, the potential strike coincides with a revamp of the way that we communicate with our members and the wider fundraising community. We are currently encouraging all members to update their own record by going into the membership section of the website and making any changes to our records.
The advantage of such a system is that members then know that the details are correct and that there are no typing errors, as they have done it themselves. It gives added confidence that, when we start to publish the membership directory, Who's Who in Fundraising, the details of even email addresses are correct. Any member wanting to update their records (and do it now while you remember as we close the database for alterations on 10 October) should go onto the website, www.institute-of-fundraising.org.uk, and follow the link to the 'Members Only' area. Here you need to provide two pieces of information for security and they can be found on your membership card:
Alternatively, if you cannot access the internet or have any questions, please contact one of the membership team on 020 7627 3436 or email email@example.com.
While updating your own record you have the option to choose to get email briefings and updates from all or any of the national, regional or special interest groups. The choice is down to you, so you manage the information you receive.
I am aware that most members already get far too many emails and I don't want to add to that load. We have 26 different groups in total, networking and sharing knowledge and information on either specialist areas of fundraising techniques or issues. Not all of them yet offer email briefings, but the amount of knowledge and shared expertise available between fundraisers is massive. Groups include special interest areas like corporate fundraising, consultants, researchers in fundraising, hospital fundraisers, IT, fundraisers in Christian organisations, payroll giving, trusts fundraising, major donors and committed-giving marketing. In Scotland there are separate special interest groups for trusts, corporate fundraising and committed giving. The networks are growing all the time.
So, if you are a member, go to the website, check your details and sign up to groups you would like to hear from. You can always deselect later if the information doesn't help you. If you are not a member, isn't it time you joined? We are here to help you fundraise. We only charge £65 as an annual membership fee (plus £25 joining fee) and we have held that subscription level for the past five years, so join before it goes up!