In the last few weeks I have found myself facing several charities with strange ideas of what collaboration means. They seem to believe it means they tell me about campaigns and I share them through my social media channels! Many of those have vast marketing teams paid very well to do that. From most, I receive little or no sharing at all and only hear from them when they want something. It is quite sad that nothing seems to have changed since I wrote the below post eighteen months ago!!
“We are so far only one month in to 2017, and I can say that in terms of my cancer work it has been an incredible start. I have frequently talked and written about the frustrating lack of collaboration in the cancer sector, and unfortunately that is still the case now. Large brands only interested in their own marketing and income streams, and the N.H.S going from one crisis to another. Many years have passed since I started my own cancer journey, and my business skills have shown me a very different way to help people affected by cancer. Not just the patient but also family members etc. We (simPal) wanted to provide help directly to people, with all money raised being passed back to help others. Most importantly for us we wanted no red tape to hinder progress as people with cancer need help now!!
With Blair, my partner in this venture, we believed that much could be improved, and we wanted to be very different to other organisations. We do very little advertising and are happy for the word of mouth to speak about what we do. We love collaboration, and have found many wonderful people who also feel the same, so we are delighted to share our work for the benefit of patients. There seems to be now another support hierarchy appearing. Those of us that are smaller and specialising, are now looking to work together to get the word out there. Breaking the stranglehold of many inward facing charities, who have a financial monopoly and a fear of sharing!
We are able to innovate, and with the aid of the Internet we can reach patients directly and no longer rely on attempting to get our work shared, by those who seem to feel we are ‘competing’ with them. As an organisation we are being approached daily, by others that want to help us and be helped by spreading news about what they do. Social media has unlocked the secure ‘gates’ the large health organisations relied on to keep their supporters to themselves and starve them of resource supplied by others. Despite the fact that we offer a service that no other organisation in the world does, we are ignored by most of the large cancer charity cartel.
As each week goes past our service gets busier and busier, and we are even asked to go into schools to talk about what we do. We are helping families and many people with terminal illness. Just making a simple difference to people who have nowhere else to turn. Through ‘cancer poverty’ these people have no money to pay their bills and are being evicted from their homes. Thankfully the commercial world is very much aware of what we are doing and I am meeting weekly with large organisations who want to help, and are very aware of their #CSR Corporate Social Responsibility.
But my question still remains, why don’t the large cancer charities do more to collaborate with other organisations? Of course many give grants, (crumbs from their table) but don’t really interest themselves in sustainability and business plans. It seems these days if we give money to something, that should be the end of the story? All they have to do is make people aware of the services that exist, and help their supporters further. No cost to them at all!! There are so many cancer support resources in this country that cannot be heard above the publicity din made by multi million pound campaigns.
My own view is quite unique, as being a long term patient and service provider I get to see all perspectives, and my frustration is that with a bit more working together ,life for patients requiring cancer support could be a whole lot better. All services like mine are commercially supported and require little money to keep them going, relying mainly on the incredible goodwill of professionals and volunteers, receiving donations as we go. All we need really is the publicity to let people know we are there. Ironically many services struggle to survive because people don’t realise they exist!
I am delighted at the speed of take up for our service from hospitals and we are now connecting people across all parts of the UK. This has happened mostly by word of mouth from many of our good friends, but very little from the charity world in general. In my opinion these corporations are slowing the speed of innovation, as they are getting caught up in brand politics and egos. With social media being invented for easy sharing what stops these guys from pressing the share button for any of our work?
Unfortunately the sharing culture seems to exist very rarely in the cancer world, despite the very obvious need for it. When I listen to issues on the news regarding cancer all I hear about is money. It is so much more than that, there is a political and selfish core to it, that no amount of money will solve. Of course it is all a very personal choice how we donate our money, but I am seeing a gradual change from the public, who are now considering their options more.
Of course charities do a lot of fine work, but many need to go back to their roots to find out what their customers need today. Communication is a two way street, it is not only about broadcasting ‘fundraising asks.’ Lets look more at the larger cancer picture, TOGETHER?”
As always these are my views, please feel free to share yours below.