I had a great time at the Middlesex University Scholarship and Awards Event 2016. This was held in the Ricketts Quad – certainly a place to shock and awe.
Systematic sponsors the First Year Challenge Award which is awarded to the winning team of first year computer science students who take part in a challenge building robotics applications. It was a pleasure to meet the winners again, Timothy Cole and Nicholas Fitton who won the award for their smart house project. I’m always impressed by the keenness of the winners of this award and the amount of work that they put in, as well as the staff who support the project Dr Giuseppe Primiero and Prof Franco Raimondi.
This year we shared a table with the winner and sponsors of The David Tresman Caminer Award which provides funding for a PhD project on the history of computing. The award is named after one of the pioneers of the LEO computer that was developed by J. Lyons and Co in the 1950s and widely acknowledged as the first business computer in the World. This year the award,
sponsored by the Association for Information Technology Trust, was won by Elisabetta Mori and I look forward to seeing the results of this research.
When we first developed LiveBase® back in the mists of the 1990’s it was to provide an easily managed dynamic element for web sites that were, for the large part, static and updated via FTP. LiveBase was first used to power the news and events sections of the National Trust website and it’s second use was for similar sections on the Caravan Club website.
As well as providing a multi-level structure, LiveBase also provided the page authors with considerable control over the publication of them such as specifying the earliest date and time they could be displayed. This was a major requirement for news items and allowed the creation of press releases during press embargoed periods, only displaying them when this was past. Additionally, users could set an expiry date after which a page wouldn’t be displayed.
A major aspect in the development of LiveBase was building in the flexibility to allow users to achieve whatever they needed in the presentation of their pages and it wasn’t long before LiveBase was actually being used to manage whole websites – a true content management system, although the term hadn’t really been coined back then.
Although many features have been added to LiveBase over the years (and LiveBase21 is on the way) the key features inherited from it’s early development – such multi level content, page display control and full templating – still provide the core of the system. Seems to keep users happy.
Coulrophobia – the medical term for fear of clowns – is quite common, although not always a pathological fear, you sense they are creepy.
Well it turns out that there is a good reason for this. While psychologists think it stems from their transgressive behaviour (unpredictable and antisocial), neurobiology has a different take and is much deeper.
Exaggerated facial features pushes the clown into the “uncanny valley”.
This phenomenon was identified by Masahiro Mori ( a robotics professor ) in 1970 and is used to describe the feeling people get when something appears not quite human.
So people are quite happy with robots that look human or look distinctly not human, but get distinctly uncomfortable when they look nearly human. If you plot this on a graph there is a steep drop off at some point, hence the “valley”.
Thanks to Dr Max Pemberton’s column for reminding me of this interesting fact.
Naming companies is a strange business. It was 25 years ago that we chose the name Systematic Marketing and it can’t be described as a very scientific process. Of course back then we didn’t have domain names to worry us and so I don’t think anyone had thought of combining a colour with an animal.
When we started the Company it was registered with a name our accountant chose – Anduss if you are interested (whether that was thought about; our names were Russell and Andy; or just happenstance I don’t know).
We needed a real name and deliberated long and hard, but couldn’t come up with anything we liked.
In the end we decided that a particular day was the day. We sat in a café opposite the London office of Companies House with the change of name forms. We then wrote down a long list of words that described what we were offering and kept combining them until we found a shortlist of the ones that we thought explained it.
Systematic Marketing was the winner. We went straight over to Companies house and lodged the forms before we could change our minds. So, not necessarily the most scientific approach.
We have thought about changing it recently, especially when people think we are an agency rather than software developers specialising in marketing systems, but you do get attached these things.
And our first domain name back in the early 1990s was to be systmktg as that was the maximum length allowed.
The Next Web has identified 10 web design trends we are likely to see over the next 12 months:
Longer scrolling sites – as mobile devices become more important there is a switch to longer scrolling pages rather than lots of links
Story telling and interaction – content has always been important but telling a story through that content is a big plus
Absence of large background header images – large header images with text over the top have become the norm. How to stand out? Get rid of the image and just use text
Removing non-essential design elements in favour of simplicity – There is an idea in design that a design is complete when all of the non-essential elements have been removed (#3 could be seen as part of this move)
Fixed width centred site layout – how we always used to do it in the old days, seems to be making a come back, but with modern derivatives
Professional high quality custom photography – that really makes your site unique. We always say that when we take on a web client we like to see that they have a good image library – it makes for a great site (Birmingham Royal Ballet and Sightsavers are great examples)
Flyout/slideout app-like menus – Responsive web design has done this for mobile browsing but it is catching on for desktops. But, while it simplifies the desgn process does it improve user experience?
Hidden main menus – pretty much the same as #7, but maybe not as obvious
Very large typography – needed because of #3?
Performance and speed – for us old hands we have always panicked about this. In our book it isn’t a trend but an essential. It’s probably really needed if you do #1. #3, 4 and 5 are probably the result of this.
what do you think we’ll see over the next 12 months?
Enthusiasm and motivation are the best habits fundraisers can have. Schedule some time daily to create your enthusiasm habit; here are five things you can try:
If you haven’t come across it yet, make time to read Hildy Gottlieb’s article, The Sound a Thank You Makes. Try putting her concept into practice and regularly spend some time on the phone with your loyal donors and volunteers.
Spend time ‘in the field’ with those who do the important day-to-day work of your charity. It’s not only energising, it puts an entirely new perspective on your work. Take along a digital camera to capture some impromptu shots.
Take a Trustee out to coffee. It’s amazing what you’ll learn when you schedule some time to sit down with your Trustees one on one. Find out what made them get involved with your charity – and what their view of success is.
Query your database for – no not for the usual *top donor* listing – but for your twenty most loyal donors. Put together a mailing of information packs with a note asking them to pass a pack on to their friends.
Step outside of your comfort zone. The non-profit world can be an insular one. Instead of always spending your training funds solely on fundraising courses, take a motivational workshop or online marketing course. You’ll be surprised at the differences and advantages!
We hope you’ve enjoyed #FundraisingFortnight and would love to hear your feedback!
The world of grant making is evolving. Below are the best websites where you can access guidance on applying for grants plus advice on how to manage a relationship with a funder. These sites contain more sources, more commentary and more funding analysis than anywhere else. Subscribe online at the individual websites.
Warning… these websites can seriously improve your fundraising success!
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It’s important to ensure you are sending a consistent message with every piece of material that’s posted online or sent to potential donors. This includes obvious things like your website and social media posts, and other items such as your email footer and Skype status. Include a personal story: why you’re raising money, why it’s important to you and where the money will go.
For any charity trying to raise money, understanding what motivates people to give is pretty useful. However, people’s motivations can be complex. Here are a few of the most important reasons why people donate:
They are affected personally by the cause (think heart disease or cancer)
They are thankful that they aren’t affected by the cause (again, think heart disease or cancer)
They want to feel involved and have fun (think Red Nose Day)
They share the values and ideals of the organisation (think human rights)
They empathise with the beneficiaries or victims (think earthquake appeals)
They can get a bargain (think charity shops)
They want to help their community (think school fundraising)
Of course the above doesn’t cover every motivation, but it really helps to be aware of which of this complex myriad of people’s motivations you are appealing to. If you aren’t clear on what is motivating people, then you can’t expect them to be sure why they should give either.