Episode 138: Doing things differently with Ben Akers

‘One of our groups in Stroud only exists because they were looking for an alcohol free beer, and they got (our one) Clear Head. It had the Talk Club info (on the can). They said ‘What’s Talk Club? That sounds good, we’ll set up a Talk Club here’. So our product collaborations act as signposts to how we help.’ 

In just four years, the small UK charity Talk Club has grown rapidly, making an ever bigger difference to the community it serves. There are now 78 Talk Clubs where men can talk, listen and improve their mental fitness.

In this episode, Ben Akers (Joint CEO) and Rob Woods discuss the innovative approach that has helped achieve this growth. An important theme is the power of being crystal clear of your outcome and working back from there to decide your tactics. They explore how this increases your confidence to do things differently and resist more orthodox strategies.

They also talk about knowing your reason why; keeping things simple; understanding your target audience and speaking their language; and strategic partnerships that intrinsically help achieve your mission, i.e. as well as generating income.

If you want to share this episode because you think it will help other charities – THANK YOU! – we are both on LinkedIn and on X / Twitter, where Ben is @BenAkers and I am @woods_rob.

Episode overview

[01:13] Talk Club’s unique approach – Ben Akers explains Talk Club’s fresh, plain-speaking and innovative approach to men’s mental health.

[05:45] Ben shares his personal motivation for the cause and how it inspired him to start Talk Club – his story of losing his best friend to suicide, and the lack of focus on prevention in mental health charities.

[10:47] Building a community and growing Talk Club – Ben shares how they achieved the organic growth of Talk Club, including their unique strategies and the sense of community that attracts people to join. 

[12:39] Ben shares the advertising strategies they used to grow Talk Club, focusing on understanding the target audience and defining success, to work out the best steps to get there (even if they’re unorthodox). He also explains how they used product collaborations as signposts, including their non-alcoholic beer collaboration and their coffee product. 

[26:21] The captains convention and community pride – Ben talks about the pride and transparency of the men in the Talk Club community and their recent captains convention. As well as Talk Club acting as a mental fitness gym, where people proudly wear their merchandise and prioritise their mental health.

[28:17] Rob and Ben explore the importance of giving back to partners and creating opportunities for them to help, whether through donations or setting up their own organisational Talk Clubs.

Further Resources

Find out more about Talk Club – a mental fitness community for men, meeting in person and online.

Stay in touch

To join our mailing list / get access to our newsletter, including to hear about our popular Breakfast Club for Fundraising Leaders, which happens every 3 months, follow this link.

Want to transform your Corporate Partnerships or Major Donor fundraising?

To learn tried and tested techniques for growing corporate partnerships income, and get help in implementing them, check out our ever popular Corporate Partnerships Mastery Programme

Or to grow your skills, confidence and RESULTS in Major Donor or Trusts fundraising, check out our flagship Major Gifts Mastery Programme, now in its tenth year.

Want to go deeper and get 24/7 access to LOTS more inspiring training?

Our training and inspiration club for fundraisers, the Bright Spot Members Club, has an extensive library of Rob’s best training films, a supportive community, and access to live masterclasses and problem-solving sessions with Rob and other experienced fundraising / leadership trainers EVERY WEEK. To find out more click here.

Transcript of Episode 138

Ben Akers (00:00:00) – It’s now their biggest selling beer. It’s their biggest. Definitely their biggest selling can. They can’t produce it quick enough. We take 5% of sales and I’ve employed someone off it. All these things are getting our name out there. 

For example, one of our groups in Stroud only exists because they were looking for an alcohol free beer. They got Clear Head. It came with Talk Club info on it. ‘What’s Talk Club? That sounds good. We’ll set up a Talk Club here’. Our product collaborations act as signposts as well. 

We delivered 4000. We had 400 men join our 4000 flyers. Cost me the best part of £50.

Rob Woods (00:00:41) – Hey there, folks. Welcome back to the Fundraising Bright Spots podcast. This is episode 138. My name is Rob Woods and this is the show for fundraisers who want ideas and maybe a little dose of inspiration to help you raise more money and really enjoy your job. This time we’re looking at the advantages that can come when you do things differently. I’m going to share a chat with Ben Akers, who is joint CEO and one of the co-founders of Talk Club.

Talk Club is a small charity. It’s only been going for a few years, but it’s growing really quickly and making an ever bigger difference in its chosen mission. Their approach is fresh, plain speaking and innovative, and I loved hearing Ben’s ideas and examples that bring this to life. I really enjoyed this conversation with Ben, and I hope that you do, too. Hello, Ben Akers, Welcome to the podcast.

Ben Akers (00:01:36) – Hello, Rob. Thank you for having me.

Rob Woods (00:01:38) – You’re very welcome. And I can’t wait for our listeners to hear some of this stuff in terms of context. Help me get the details right. So you’re the Chief Executive of Talk Club, is that right?

Ben Akers (00:01:49) – I’m the joint CEO and co-founder. So there’s six founders and me and Gavin, who’s one of the other founders, are co-CEOs.

Rob Woods (00:01:57) – Yeah and in terms of starting from the right place, what is Talk Club? What’s the mission? What’s the purpose?.

Ben Akers (00:02:03) – Talk Club is a male mental health charity or a male mental fitness movement is the way that I like to refer to it. We started as a CIC four years ago and we became a charity two years ago. We are basically a talking and listening community for men. How to get men to open up and look after their mental health, or as we’d like to frame it, as mental fitness. And our ultimate goal is to create a mentally fit society and to stop men killing themselves.

Rob Woods (00:02:37) – And I know you gave a talk at the Chartered Institute of Fundraising Convention earlier in the year, which was very well received. I saw some of the social media about it, and my colleague Ben told me how much he loved it and he suggested we have this conversation in the first place. It is interesting that such a new charity is out there on that stage and is really making such a difference with their presentation.

Ben Akers (00:03:06) – Yeah, we started four years ago in the back of a pub. We now have 78 clubs around the world as of this morning. These are various states of development. But 78 we’ve trained over 350 captains who are the blokes who run our groups.

Ben Akers (00:03:23) – We’re very, very young and we’ve got a small team. There’s sort of only five full time/part time staff. Me and Gareth work four days a week for the charity. We brought in over 200 grand and that’s come a lot from a slightly more entrepreneurial way that we look at it. But we had this amazing conversation yesterday and we’re building a community and we’re building a community of not just men to get men talking and get men owning and feeling that they own a Talk Club. But we’re building a community of pride. We’re building a community of connection. We’re building a community where people want to be part of us. And by our things and by our beer and our coffee and our merch. And we’ve done no major sort of strategy of getting people running up mountains or doing marathons for us. They’ve come to us, Everyone has come to us. We don’t publicise, we don’t, we don’t advertise. We don’t ask people, Do you fancy running this marathon for us? People have come because they like what we’re trying to do.

Ben Akers (00:04:21) – They like who we are. They like the impact that our groups are having on their community and they’re giving to us. Even when I did that talk, I found it really weird because it was like fundraising. Like I, that’s a thing. I didn’t know that was a thing. Right? Of course it’s a thing. Right? But I was listening to the other speakers and I was like, like I haven’t got any of that strategy. Like, that’s not how I do things, why I do things or the way that we do things, because my background is advertising. So I look at myself as a problem solver. So back in the day, I’d sell stuff to people they didn’t need and make them feel good about themselves with buying my rubbish. So I had an evil power as I called it. I had an evil power and I wanted to use that evil power for good. And I started working in sustainability and purpose driven advertising. And then this life changing moment happened. And now I’m a CEO of a charity I didn’t mean to start.

Rob Woods (00:05:16) – One of the reasons I was so keen to talk is that you are doing various things just differently from what many more established charities are doing. It seems to be it’s all about getting stuff done, getting men in those chairs, doing that talking. And the partnership with a beer or a coffee company is not primarily a source of money. It’s a bit of that as well, but primarily about how you achieve the mission. I was fascinated to hear the other day why you do what you do.

Ben Akers (00:05:45) – Okay, so a little shiver down my spine. It’s coming up to ten years. And even in ten years, it still lives there. So my background is I was born in South London, grew up in a pretty lively part of South London. And one of my best friends was a young man called Steve Yates. And we were inseparable. We were brothers by another mother. I spent most of my teens at his house on holiday with his family because this stuff was going on at my family, if I’m honest.

And then as we grew and I got a career in advertising and one of only two in my year to get to university, I started spending a lot of my time in London and he moved down to the south coast and we drifted. I mean, you drift in your 20s and 30s and families get involved, kids get involved. And I’d moved to Australia with work and he’d moved to Canada with work. So he worked at the equivalent of he worked for BT here in the equivalent of T there. When I got a phone call from his cousin telling me that, are you sitting down? And I’m like, Why are you ringing me? That Steve’s taken his own life. I’d never been confronted by suicide before. I’d been around mental ill health as a child, but I hadn’t been confronted by suicide. So for three years I sort of spent a lot of time asking why? A lot of time in therapy asking why, they’ve really found why we’d move back to the UK.

Ben Akers (00:07:04) – And I literally was going to, I was planning to see him. It was like I’d been back in a country for two weeks and I bought many night tickets. So my new career back here was working in film and I hadn’t connected the dots between what was going on with Steve and what was going on with my new career. So I was making films and then I was sitting in a I was sitting in a hammock in France three years later, and I read these statistics that statistically suicides, biggest killer of men under 50 suicide is 76% suicides. A male, a man dies every 90 minutes in this country. So statistically, the thing most likely to kill me is me. And that’s how I started my my, my Ted talk. And I was really sort of what can I do? What can I do? How can I change what this is and my problem solving world and sort of starting working in film and making docs. I decided to make a documentary. So I made a documentary called Steve and I think I really know what I was going to do with it.

Ben Akers (00:08:01) – If I’m honest, it’s sort of like the way that I always do things. I just sort of start things and sort of see how they roll and move with them. Go with the energy, as my mum always says. So this little 15 minute idea with a crowdfunder to sort of raise ten grand to make this film 15 half hour or whatever, see what happens. Turned into 50 hours of footage, turned into me spending the best part of six months travelling the country, collecting amazing stories from amazing people, looking at all the positives that are out there, not just these horrible statistics in the negatives. And then when it was released in March 2019, we’d had a couple of pre screens and someone said to me, Now what? I was like, Now you’ve opened me up, now what are you going to do with me? So I was like, So I turned to some of the producers and I was like, I think we probably need to start something here. Like, we’ve created this.

Ben Akers (00:08:51) – We’re going to create this whole thing. And we, we, we need somewhere for these men to go. So what I was noticing was some amazing charities in this research that I was collecting for making the film amazing, amazing charities. But everyone was really looking at I call it triage, keeping men alive. That moment of I’m on a bridge or that moment of I’ve broken because we’re very much in a broken fixing society when it comes to our mental health. No one was really, really looking at prevention. And when Danny Sculthorpe said to me in the film, he sort of says to me about mental fitness, and suddenly a light bulb went on in my head and I was like, Danny, that’s an amazing light. Danny’s sort of ex rugby, England International at that point, one of the hardest men on the planet and sort of like literally for him to be talking about how he handled his mental health and how he handled mental fitness. So, it was a bit of that. It was a bit of it was a bit of sort of putting together the team from from from the film and then yeah, and then they sort of like we looked at prevention and then sort of we were sitting in a pub, me and one of the co-founders and the producer Neil, and we came up with them Talk Club and we’re like, That’s got to have gone.

Ben Akers (00:10:03) – So both of us being in advertising, we’re straight on online trying to work out how we can make it work. No charity existed that way. So we’re like, okay, that’s something interesting. We can take that. And then I started collecting other people from the film. I collected Gav, who sort of like was trained to be a therapist but did all the music is now a qualified therapist and has been for three years. And Blue who was in the film? Tom who was in the film? My wife. We were six founders, but it’s all like we didn’t know what it was going to be. We sort of like the idea was just to sort of start a thing, a talking group. We were looking at why men aren’t talking. I sort of say in my talks like we’ve never been taught how to talk, right? It’s a foreign language. To us, feelings are a foreign language. You might as well say, go and speak Latin to your friend and say, Go and tell him your feelings.

Ben Akers (00:10:47) – So I was talking to Blue about this and Blue goes, Well, I’m using this thing like I’m using how are you out of ten with, with my youth mentoring work? And I was like, that’s it, Let’s use that. Because kids are managers. You mean like we just need to be taught. So that’s sort of the genesis of where these things came from. And yeah, we started small. We grew really quickly. As I say, we’re up to, I think it’s 78 as of today. Clubs around the world, mainly, mainly in Britain. But again, it’s very, very organic. Everyone’s coming to us going ‘I’d like to set up a…’ we set that up in Florida like last week. Someone came to us. They were over here. They’ve just moved to Florida. I’d like to set up a Talk Club. And we’re like, Yeah, cool. Here’s how you do it. Um, and I think it’s that sense of community is the reason why we’re growing so fast, the reason why people are feeling so that they can be part of it and, and belong, you know, I mean, that’s, that’s, that’s sort of that’s my understanding of what these things how it’s unfolded.

Rob Woods (00:11:48) – Thank you for explaining that. One of the interesting things to me is, I mean, there’s lots of professions where it’s important to be good at understanding people and why people do or don’t do things. But it seems to me advertising is one of them. An important theme of doing well in that area is trying to have a laser-like focus on who you’re trying to sell the stuff to, trying to understand what they currently do and what it is about your thing that will solve something for them and crucially, how you would persuade that person to do that thing. And it seems to be one way of looking at Talk Club if you’ve applied that narrative, that approach to solving a different problem. This problem in reducing suicide by getting men talking, understanding why they don’t, and coming up with simple, clear things they can do that really changes that.

Ben Akers (00:12:39) – What I always try to do when I’m working with any client in advertising and then I apply that to what we’re doing on everything that we’re doing with Talk Club is what does success look like? Because if you know what success is, then you can work backwards from that.

(00:12:54) – So we’ve talked club. My whole thing is I don’t want to miss a man, right? I want a man who needs to talk. He’s got access to being able to talk. I try to understand as many of those different relationships inside the mediums. I’m choosing those conversations with a counsel who gives us a little bit of money. And we had this back and forth about how we were going to spend this money. And I sort of said, okay, well, I want to deliver 4000 flyers. And the argument, the no, no social media. And I was like, social media is dead. Social media is wallpaper for the people I’m looking at. Social media is wallpaper. It’s actually an anxiety creator If I’m if it’s really someone that who really needs me really needs what we’re trying to provide. We delivered 4000. We had 400 men join our 4000 flyers. It cost me the best part of £50. There’s a little, little thing about understanding what their journey is.

(00:13:46) – We are where men are. That’s always been our thing with the film. The idea of the film was to go to do it as a pub tour. So when I released a film, I did it as a pub tour and we weren’t a charity at the time, so I could do that. And my mate turned around to me and who runs a charity, a very successful charity, and said to me, Benny, that’s brilliant. I can’t, I can’t do that. But you can because I went to where the men were. I went to them and I told them they’re sitting there cradling a pint, thinking about their own worries, and I’m not forcing them on. I’m just telling other people’s stories. And language is so, so, so important. We keep our stuff really, really simple. We keep ourselves single minded. Like my whole goal of the film of Steve, was to save one Steve, to save the next Steve, to save one man. And I’ve got stories of these that come out of my ears.

(00:14:39) – But what we use in advertising is if you chuck one ball at someone, they’ll catch one ball, right? You chuck five balls, they won’t catch anything, right? So what the success looked like out of any piece of communication, out of any bit of campaign of what do you want to achieve? And when it comes to blokes, the attention span is minor, is tiny with blokes. So I’m talking to blokes who don’t want to listen to me, who don’t want to look after themselves, who sort who think there’s any other reason in the world for them to look after themselves. Most men, most men that come to Talk Club when you actually delve in, realise when they get there that they need it. But it took them a while to get there because they’re family comes first. Everything else in the world comes first before themselves. And that’s the reason why the statistics are so high in my opinion. So we do things like that. We try and use language and it is so, so important.

Ben Akers (00:15:30) – Like a very kind journalist described Steve as a change of entry. And I was like, I’m having that. So like, not a documentary because for me, I don’t know how to make documentaries. I only know how to make films that I make, right? But if you look at documentaries that your, your any documentary on out there, they’re normally made by a journalistic way of looking at the world. You go the world’s rubbish and you go, If you were affected by this, call this number at the end, right? Yeah.

(00:15:54) – And or you just feel, well, I’m very angry now. I’m more angry than I was. It gave me a hit of anger about the corruption in that place.

Ben Akers (00:16:02) – Exactly. But you don’t, you don’t feel any sense of change about it. And so what Steve was about was about those things of this is what you can do and this is how you can look after yourself in a soft way or a or full on way.

(00:16:19) – And my new film, Our Kids Our Lives, is a lot more hard hitting than that. It’s actually talking to parents and trying to get them to look after themselves and their kids by connecting with their kids. But that’s how I knew. That’s the only way I know how to make films like The Only Way I Know How to Make Funds. It’s not legacy fundraising. I don’t know any of this stuff. That was what that was. What was amazing about coming to that conference was I was sitting there learning because I don’t I don’t know, this is great. And I’m a sponge. I need to learn. But the way that I go is I go, okay, I’ve got a brand, we’ve got a brand that’s doing good. We can give that brand and that story to some to something and we can make money from that and we can make awareness from that. So we’re Clear Head that our non-alcoholic beer like we went, it’s quite simple. We went, Well, men are in pubs, men like pubs, I like pubs, I have grown up in pubs, I feel comfortable in pubs.

(00:17:11) – But I know about the connection between alcohol and depression, so I want to use that, but I don’t want to fuel that. So non-alcoholic beers were on their way up. We went into Sam at the Bristol Beer factory, told him the idea. It’s now their biggest selling beer. It’s their biggest, definitely their biggest selling can. They can’t produce it quick enough. We take 5% of sales and I’ve employed someone off it. So just off a passive income of a beer that will only get bigger like we will we will be creating more ranges. We will be like, they can’t make it quick enough. So then from that I sort of went, okay, well what else do I want Around here in Bristol? We’ve got every coffee shop you go into. There’s women sitting down drinking coffee like groups or groups of women, right? And you never see groups of men sitting down drinking coffee. Right. But why should we be able to connect with our friends? We should be able to sort of collect those moments of I’m worried about you, let’s have a coffee.

(00:18:09) – So go. And I sort of like, okay, look, I actually asked Sam, in your opinion, is the coffee company. So he goes to Wogan. So we went. So I emailed James Wogan, got his details, sort of said, Look, fancy coming over to the office literally before my bum had hit the chair. He goes, it goes well so why am I here? And I said, well look, I want to do a clear ed with you. I want to do a Wogan clear head and before my arse had even hit the chair he said yes. And I was like, I’ve got a 30 page presentation here about how he’s brilliant. And he and I go, I spent nearly an hour doing that yesterday and he’s like, he’s just laughing. And James, James and Wogan is perfect. We’ve got it’s called Talk Club Ten. Here it is, Talk Club, ten hour coffee, take ten minutes out. Ask yourself how you are out of ten.

(00:18:57) – And again, it’s a slower build. But what we’re doing is we’re not just creating funds from these things. We’re creating all these things to get our name out there. And for example, one of our groups in Stroud only exists because they were looking for an alcohol free beer. They got cleared, and came with two clubs sitting on it. What’s a Talk Club? That sounds good. We’ll set up a Talk Club here. So our product collaborations act as signposts as well as sort of like being part of the community. So you can do your bit by buying, not just giving me your money, but by buying our coffee regularly or buying our beer regularly or buying the next product. I’m working on something that I can’t talk about regularly. But that’s sort of like that’s, that’s our passive income idea. And then and what we do is with our merch is our merch is sort of all about like we’ve got an iconic t shirt, the how are you out of ten t shirt and we’ve got a completely different strategy with that as well because again, I want people to be using to be wearing that and be proud of that and start that conversation because it’s a double thing. I need people to be walking billboards if I’m honest.

Rob Woods (00:20:07) – Hey there, it’s Rob. And I wanted to quickly let you know about our two flagship training programs. That’s the Major Gifts Mastery Programme and the Corporate Partnerships Mastery Programme. To give you a sense of the difference they can make, here’s a really quick bit of feedback we received recently from Asiya Parekh, who took part in our most recent Corporate Mastery Programme.

Asiya Parekh (00:20:26) – This is my first corporate fundraising position. I’ve never corporate fundraised before. I rely quite heavily on the things that Rob taught. Since being on the programme, the charity has managed to turn over ten partnerships. We started off with one while I was on the course with Rob. That one turned into six and now it’s turned into ten. For the charity, the partnerships are worth around £10,000 each and at ten we have a total of £100,000 coming in. I would really, really recommend the programme. Absolutely do it. It’s worth every penny. And I’m really, really grateful for having been on it.

Rob Woods (00:21:02) – At the time of publishing there are still a few places left for both programmes starting in November 2023. To find out more about either Corporate Partnerships Mastery or the Major Gifts Mastery Programme, go to brightspotfundraising.co.uk/services. And if you have any questions, please do get in touch. But for now, let’s get back to my conversation with Ben. 

Many charities, the leaders, if there is a corporate fundraiser, they primarily, if we’re really honest, see the corporate fundraiser as a person whose job it is to go to companies, ask for money, get money, bring the money back in, use the money to pay for the valuable services. And one of the things we teach on our Corporate Partnerships Mastery Programme is, yes, it’s wonderful that partnerships can raise you a lot of money. And also, at their best, you’re missing a trick. Unless you see the potential of companies who have assets and resources way more than most charities do in and of themselves through the partnership, help you achieve the mission through their audience, their IT, their consultancy, whatever other things they have that you don’t that help you achieve your mission 10 or 100 fold.

Rob Woods (00:22:20) – And actually, in hindsight, we discovered that asking for the 10,000 to pay for some stuff is dwarfed by the amount of good you could do. If you see partnership genuinely in this way, some corporate fundraisers listening might think Rob is talking about pro bono. Yep, pro bono is annoying. Last week someone dropped off a case of wine or someone said, We’ve got a half a van load of loo rolls. Could you go and send that out to wherever you do your good work? And then I’ve got a problem with how to use the thing. And one thing I teach is proactively working out what it is that’s currently holding you back from achieving your mission dramatically more because for you it’s expensive or because it’s difficult to come by or whatever and work out which companies have that and that at some level their values are aligned or your audience is aligned. So why wouldn’t they want help? You do that and be seen to help you do that proactively, go after conversations with those. Again, the thing you’ve done there is you didn’t wait for your phone to ring.

(00:23:21) – You saw that men are drinking beer and or need to drink more coffee and you’ve gone after the right kind of partner rather than wondering why they’re not coming to you. So there’s several interesting themes. I think they’re one of the other things I think that comes right at the top of your strategy is A, to state the obvious, you just have this burning reason why, which gives you this hunger and clarity of decision making. It means you’re not going to get fooled by what everyone else is doing. You’re just going to keep saying what would help me get my mission done? I think you said to me your strategy this year is how can we get more men’s arses on seats?

Ben Aker (00:24:06) – Yeah, it’s exactly that. I mean, to us, it’s about getting a man’s bum on a seat, right? And we go like. And when I say a seat that can be an hour our talking a talking exercise groups but it’s actually going like that is what that is what we know success looks like is when we’ve got men sitting in groups talking and being part of the community and where that comes out and everything inside that, what we try and do.

Ben Akers (00:24:29) – So whether it is getting some more funds in or whether it’s a partnership or whether it’s a talk, everything that we’re doing is actually going is coming to a very, very simple take. And like even we’ve got we start working with corporates now and we started offering a thing called business support where we were sending in trainee therapists under our framework to sort of be listening support, set up clubs, be part of a Talk Club, set up a talk walk or, or actually just having someone who’s a trainee therapist to sit there and listen to someone for for half an hour. That money, we call it the Robin Hood approach. That money comes from them, goes back into the charity and helps men in maybe less affluent areas. And I think that everything about it is just trying to keep what we’re trying to say. We’re trying to just keep everything really, really, really simple. And it takes hard thinking to get something simple. So, so and we stress test stuff a lot. We sort of like even down to our brand, our brand is black and white.

(00:25:28) – Um, and we use a very, very simple fold up flyer. We’ve produced tens of thousands of these, but also it’s been downloaded thousands of times and it can be printed out on a photocopier, double sided, a PDF and it’s just like you can do it yourself and our brand because we know that. We know that if we send these things out, yes, it’s our IP, but it’s not about that. It’s actually about getting a man to actually read this thing. And if I can create more and more people who believe and I make it easier for them to do that my whole. Thing about is just to make it easy for people. Say yes, try and remove as many barriers as you can to get a man to sit in, sit on a chair. Remove as many barriers as you can for a celebrity to wear one of our t-shirts, remove as many barriers as you can for people to sort of be proud of, be proud of the community that they’re creating. So that’s what we try to do.

(00:26:21) – We try to keep everything really, really simple and sort of and we’re I mean, we had our captain’s convention at the weekend back to the language of captains that blokes understand. Um, but we had a captains convention in the weekend and the pride that was coming out of these men who were feeding back to us about the community that that they’ve created and also the transparency, they sort of like, they really like the transparency about what we are like when we’re not trying to we know what we are and we know what we’re not and we’re not trying to sort of we’re not we’re not trying to be over clever or or complicated like I think both. And I am quite entrepreneurial about the way we work. We fail fast and cheap. We try not to fail at all. But I really enjoyed one of your previous podcasts about failure. Um, we’re not just for men. We have men in the main community, but a mentally fit man is good for society. So. So his kids, his wife we’ve got when we’re working with corporates, we work with both male and female.

(00:27:23) – But what we’re finding is that it’s actually bigger than that. It’s about sort of like it’s about like we’re almost looking at ourselves as a gym like, like mental or mental fitness gym that you people quite happily wear Gold’s Gyms and be proud about looking after themselves like, I want I want you. You wear a Talk club piece of a t- shirt or a piece of merch because you sort of you’re proud of it. You’re proud of being part of this movement moving forward. To me, you’ve always got to give someone something. Working with partners. You’ve always got to be looking at it. What’s in it for them? If you’re looking at it, what’s in it for them? Then you can actually manage their expectations and you can actually make it a more sustainable income and like and that’s the way that that’s the way that I work. I don’t look at it as, as, as. Even with donations, like if there’s a corporate donation, I’m still trying to get a Talk Club in there.

Ben Akers (00:28:17) – I still sort of like it’s like, That’s amazing. You’ve given us X amount of money. Thank you very much. Um, should we sort of give something back to your staff? Can I. Can I set up a Talk Club? Do you want me to come in and do a talk? You do a talk. And suddenly I’ve set up another Talk Club. 99.9%. People want to help, right? You just got to give them the right opportunity to help.

Rob Woods (00:28:39) – Ben, so brilliant to hear you talk. I’ve really enjoyed our conversations so far. I’m sure our listeners will get so much from this conversation as well. We’ll put a link to Talk Club in the episode notes on my website as well. I’m sure lots of people want to find out more about the charity and how those Talk Clubs work. And yeah, thank you so much for generously sharing your take on running a small charity, growing a small charity, making a bigger difference. I’ve really enjoyed hearing your examples and your take on it all.

Rob Woods (00:29:12) – So, so refreshing and it’s re-energised me. So thank you and I look forward to catching up with you soon. Ben Akers, thank you so much. So there you go. I hope you enjoyed hearing about Ben’s approach. If you did and you think it would help other people too, please do share it with your team and with other charities. Thank you ever so much for your help. Now, if you’d like to find out more about our two long standing programmes – Corporate Partnerships Mastery or the Major Gifts Mastery Programme, which have now helped hundreds and hundreds of people to grow fundraising income over the last nine years. Or if you’re interested in some bespoke in-house training for your team, or indeed, if you’d like to make a big positive shift in the way your charity approaches corporate partnerships, and you’d like to hear more about our corporate partnerships consultancy Next Level Service, check out the information on our website, which is brightspotfundraising.co.uk/services. Finally, I know there’s a strong chance that you’ve already subscribed to the Fundraising Bright Spots show, but if not, please do follow us now.

(00:30:21) – I’m really excited about the new episodes we’re releasing over the next few weeks, and I don’t want you to miss out on those. Do let us know what you think about the show on Twitter or X. Ben is @benakers. And I am @woods_rob and we’re both on LinkedIn. Thank you so much for listening and supporting our podcast. Good luck with your fundraising and your leadership. And I can’t wait to share more bright spot stories with you very soon.

Find this helpful? If so, please share it on, so we can help as many good causes as possible.