Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What to learn from the Aussie Olympic team?

It pains me to say this, but Great Britain has headed their long time foes and my nation, Australia in the medal race at the Beijing Olympics. As a result, I’m looking for excuses because like any Aussie I don’t like being beaten by the Brits!

And in my quest to delve deeper into this unfathomable scenario, I did discover something which seems to be at the root of the Australian’s problems: complacency.

Consider these facts:

• The GB team spends more on its Paralympic team than the Aussies spend on both their Olympic and Paralympic teams combined.
• The British government is prepared to pour another 400 million pounds into Olympic sport in preparation for the 2012 London Olympics.
• Australian coaches have been poached en masse by the British, often at double or triple the salaries they were being paid in Australia, boosted by the proceeds of national lottery money.

Now, you could argue as a nation we are ‘punching above our weight’? 20 gold medals in Athens for a country with a population less than the state of Texas is pretty damn good. Yet we finished with 14 gold in Beijing which suggests somethign is awry.

So what the hell does this have to do with fundraising?

Well, like my current experience watching the Aussies slip ever so slightly down the medal table, I cringe when I see firsthand charities taking the foot off the pedal, not striving hard enough to get on the podium.

I recently met with a large Canadian charity to talk about some benchmarking we are doing of charities performance globally, and specifically in Canada.

The fundraisers I presented to loved it. Particularly the idea of being able to learn from others and picking the best of what they are doing that works.

However the meeting ended pretty abruptly when I was told there was one major barrier. There was a perception form certain parts of the organization (I won’t name names) that they couldn’t possibly learn from anyone else, they had all their bases covered and were leaps and bounds ahead of anyone else.

Now don’t get me wrong. This is one successful, very large organization that is doing well. But to think for a moment that nothing could be learned, refined, tweaked and absorbed from others in the sector is absurd. Especially when I have recently mystery shopped this organization and have seen for my own eyes what they are doing!

So as I watched the leader of the marathon enter the Olympic stadium with a lap to go, peering over his shoulder waiting for his challengers to surge, it reminded me of the way as fundraisers we should behave. Always on our toes and on the lookout for others. For if we aren’t then the same fate as the Australian Olympic team could await you.


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