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Helen Beckett rounds up the best of the charity blogs, those that admit failure and amuse as well as inform


1) Admitting failure

'Submit your failure now' says the website

A Canadian site set up to share and learn from failures, describing itself as "…an open space for development professionals who recognize that the only "bad" failure is one that's repeated".

Brave, unusual, and totally in keeping with the two-way nature of an online community. I find this refreshing and, well, wish I had the guts to do this more often myself. Do we have an equivalent in this country?

2) Fundraising Detective

A blog recommended by fellow charity communicators, provides real, easy-to-read and practical fundraising advice. The best thing about Craig's blog is that as well as sharing valuable and professional advice, he also admits his own failings and missed opportunities despite clearly being an effective and talented fundraiser. The honesty is the most refreshing part of this blog avoiding the "self-congratulatory" tone that infects other fundraising blogs. For example, he admits sending 73 mailings to someone who once gave a £5 donation back in 1995. Yet he explains how to learn and respond to such a big mistake.

I'm used to reading blogs by consultants criticising the way a charity or government organisation operates (with the subtext being "hire me, I'm brave and outspoken"). It's uplifting to instead read candid advice and admissions from an in-house professional with no "hire me" agenda. Craig's blog is also semi-anonymous, meaning that you can find him if you try but he is not about blowing his own trumpet.

The Fundraising Detective also provides a handy list of fundraising blogs from across the sector.

3) Steve Bridger

Steve recently explains in a blog post that we get the return on social media that we deserve: "When contemplating the failures of social media, we first need to look at ourselves."

This sounds slightly like a sermon but Steve has a point. He also advocates "engaging your detractors" and is brave enough to lay out in advance some topics he will be addressing at a future speaking engagement, to allow readers the chance to collaborate with him. This takes more work than simply serving up some stock slides. A thoughtful blog.

4) Training Blog by Miranda, fundraising for the National Trust

Miranda's begins her training blog shyly, worrying "am I interesting enough?", yet her self-deprecating humour makes for a happy read. Miranda and her dog Wag provide a gentle commentary as they build up their strength and stamina and her writing style is easy and friendly. Miranda's confidence as a blogger seems to grow as her training progresses towards her run in June.

The most interesting aspect of this is slightly tucked away, and that's her career change that led her to work in a rural setting: "The job that was to facilitate this career side step was as a general assistant – cleaning toilets, cooking food and working on reception for the Youth Hostel Association in a beautiful, remote and magical place called High Close." Which led to her National Trust volunteering.

It's not clear from the blog whether the "Grassmere Gallop" is aimed at funding or awareness and I'm not clear what job she moved from in her career change, but nevertheless an enjoyable read.

5) Daryl's Blog: 'Mistake of the Week'

Finally, a charity blog post entitled 'mistake of the week' rounds up this list of lessons learned.

I've not managed to work out exactly who Daryl is but his authoritative and yet self-deprecating style serves up some lessons learned for charities everywhere in an easy-to-swallow way. Latest post begins: 
"These days my posts seem mostly to relate to whatever trouble I've landed myself into yet again."


And I feel compelled in view of these posts to make my own confession of failure – my own company blog currently has no function enabling responses. Is Twitter enough or is a comment box still de rigeur? Let me know, uh, here.

Helen is Director of Illuminate Communications. Her clients include Lasa and The Clore Leadership Programme

This content is brought to you by Guardian Professional. To join the Voluntary Sector Network, click here


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