Blowing our trumpets – difficult but essential

publication date: Jan 4, 2012
author/source: Jonathon Grapsas
We're a particularly humble bunch, we fundraisers, charity staff, volunteers and the like. And I have found Canadians as a nation to be full of humility and at times uncomfortable singing from the rafters about how good you are.Jonathon Grapsas photo

I've been reminded of this a number of times recently during conversations with clients, board members and other charity folks.

We don't seem to like to blow our trumpets and tell people how amazingly good we are, what problems we've solved, and how - whether it's in collaboration with others or on our own - we've changed a few lives along the way.

This is not a criticism as such, more an observation. I'm not for a moment suggesting we should overtly show off or mislead, but why can't we blow our own trumpet from time to time and claim we did X, are the best at Y, were at the heart of A and B and are leading C.

It's language we seem uncomfortable, perhaps even a little shy about using.

Learning from commercial claims

Our friends in the commercial world certainly don't bat an eyelid when it comes to boasting that their product is the greatest, regardless of how insignificant or unnecessary it may be. We're in the business of making the lives of people, plants and animal better, so why do we shy away from fair and reasonable claims that we should be downright proud of - claims that would help us raise more money and do even more good?

How to brag with class

I stumbled across this example from Cancer Research UK.

What I love about this is they haven't shied away from claiming what they can rightly can - that they have been at the heart of progress when it comes to cancer treatments. No backing away, or hiding behind complex and ambiguous statements. This is what's been done, we've played a part in it. But there's more to do.

CRUK is certainly not taking the credit for every advancement in cancer research, but it's proud to say it's played an important role.

How to blow your trumpet
  • There's no shame in claiming what's rightfully yours to claim, whether that's the whole of accomplishment A or even some of B. Don't water it down.
  • There's a time and a place - when you're feeding back and thanking (including on a personal level), but also when building a case for why you need further support right now.
  • Blowing your trumpet shouldn't be presented in a boastful way. You can remain humble whilst still being proud of what you've done.
Jonathon Grapsas is the founder and director at flat earth direct, an agency dedicated to fundraising and campaigning for good causes. Jonathon spends his time working with charities around the world focused on digital, direct response and campaigning stuff.

If you'd like to chat to Jonathon you can email him, follow him on twitter @jonathongrapsas or check out

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