Monday, October 25, 2010

Me and Bono

Well – OK, pro Bono, rather than U2's Bono, but I found myself wondering recently, just how much free support do I actually give?

I've always been very open about saying I'm happy to have an initial chat/lunch/beer with anyone who like to ask me to, without obligation – just 'cos I think that's how the world should work. But I don't keep track of how much time I spend doing this, and I'm suddenly aware that its probably increasing - there seem to be a growing number of people in different sector bodies who 'pass my name on' to various groups and people (I was tempted to list the sector bodies they work for, but might be a tad delicate if I did....), and I'm happy for them to continue do so.

But very few of these lead to any fee earning work, and although that's not the reason I do it, being self-employed I have to try and drum up enough work to keep the bills paid somehow.

But I digress – I do pro bono for a lot of people and I don't track it.
Should I?
But if I did, what would it show? The only reason I measure or record anything I do is because I think it generates useful management information, and anything I record about myself I tend to be pretty open about in sharing what they show (see previous posts about my social accounts and why I do this ). As a freelancer, what useful management information would I be generating by recording how much of my time is spent doing pro bono stuff and openly reporting this (other than to gratify my ego).

This is not a hypothetical question – it’s something I really am trying to work out. I'd appreciate any comments you'd like to share with me, either by reply to this post or by direct email

Monday, October 11, 2010

Which financial language do you speak?

do you talk in terms of 'full cost recovery' like much of the third sector (i.e. making sure that you don't lose money on activities you deliver) or use the more traditional and private business understood 'profit and loss' (which shows where you spent you money in relation to delivering your activities and running the organisation overall).

It matters because of the worlds in which we exist increasingly inter-mix: speaking with procurement officers, they're used to private businesses so you need to use P&L - terms their accountants will understand. Similarly, if you're seeking loans, then lenders speak P&L as well.

My concern is that as a sector we constantly seem to be calling for a level playing field, to be treated on equal terms as every other type of organisation and group, and yet we then create our own special languages that don't match the systems and practices of the wider world.

Perhaps it time to stop being so precious about why we're special and get on with showing it in ways which anyone can understand by using their languages?