Previously I wrote about my odyssey in creating a small charity called Volunteer Funders. Unfortunately, the charity encountered some insurmountable issues and the board of directors including myself decided this week to close it down.

In truth the last couple of days have not been all singing and dancing but as I said to one of my children you are never sad forever.

Upon reflection the experience was way more enjoyable than disappointing: it was the most fun I have ever had!

But I learnt some lessons along the way and now have a question which remains to be resolved:

  •  First, be clear about what you are attempting to achieve. Funnily enough this was a practical application of what I learnt studying Change Management.
  • Secondly, be flexible about how you do it. Don’t be afraid to embrace new methods and ideas. Again another practical theoretical application!
  • Thirdly, have mentors around you who are not attached to the outcome. During the inception of the charity I contacted a stranger for advice who eventually became a mentor.
  • Fourthly, have people around you who can critically reflect and are leaders themselves. I was lucky enough to have board members who asked the difficult questions and supplied new ideas. I found it challenging at times but I realised I was surrounded by leaders who would not indulge in groupthink.
  • Fifthly, rank the obstacles to success and determine how to approach them. In framing the strategy for Volunteer Funders, I did work out the major obstacle and conceived a plan to overcome it. Unfortunately, new information outflanked my idea!
  • Sixthly, clearly specify the vision and method of achievement to potential customers and have them give input. Through the Volunteer Funders board, we contacted several charities who supplied valuable feedback on the practicalities of sponsoring volunteers through us communicating our vision and method.
  • Lastly, fail early and adapt often. During the creation of the charity, we did need to adapt our methods and means of communications as sometimes things didn’t work out. But as my mentor pointed out, it was better having this happen earlier rather than later.
  • Finally, the question that remains is to have clear measures of success and failure which can be applied as early as possible. I am still searching for an answer to this one!

But above all, what I really received from the experience comes ironically from a spy novel, John Le Carre’s Russia House, in which one of the characters during an interrogation (!!) says:

“Let’s have fun. Let’s do some good”.

I intend to!