life-one-timeTo bring Social Change

For those reading this blog for the first time, I’m Shanelle Newton Clapham, and I built my business [Parachute Digital] on the philosophy of “giver’s gain”.
I believe that we should give without expectation of return. So I try to be generous with my knowledge and my time. If asked for advice or an opinion, I give a full and honest response. I try to give away the best of me – my time, my love, my information for free. Because I believe that people who give ultimately gain in the end.

I don’t give as a business strategy. I give as a life philosophy.
For those that want to skip the reflections and musings and get right to the end, scroll down to read my promise to you.

I like to think of myself as a social entrepreneur – a business entrepreneur that uses my skills to bring about social change. Parachute Digital is a small consultancy that helps charities with their digital marketing & advocacy, but most often digital fundraising. Everything I and my team do is to help charities raise more money for their cause – to further the work. To do good.

And I’ve been successful. My giver’s gain philosophy has been proven – Parachute Digital is growing. We’re almost 5 years old now. We’ve raised lots of money for causes that are important (about $6million by my calculations) – issues that need action and require change.

I’ve spent the best part of the last 5 years trying to figure out and articulate “What is my purpose in this life?”
I have learned from Dr John Demartini, who is very plain in his description of most people’s ambitions – namely that everyone wants to leave a legacy (apparently that’s why most of us procreate). And I am guilty of having an ego. I do want to leave my mark on this planet. I want to make sure that my life has some meaning.

My Purpose

Parachute Digital’s purpose is to connect people that care with the causes they care about.

My personal purpose is still not crystal clear to me, but its something at the intersection of digital and harnessing the collective power of women. In the charity sector, the Force is definitely female.

I haven’t written a blog in months. This could be me getting back on the proverbial horse, the ‘practice what you preach’ (content marketing) horse. But honestly, I find myself in a situation where I don’t know which horse to mount?

Givers GainIntegrity and Values

I believe that my business has grown because I practice what I preach – because I try to live and operate with integrity. I have said many times that “every digital strategy should be build on content” and that is how I built Parachute Digital. I wrote blogs for years. Lots of them, several a week sometimes. Then I wrote a book.

I’ve tried to live by the “givers gain” mantra. I’ve tried to create content in a “How To…” context. I sincerely want to show you how to do it. All of my articles, books, training courses, seminars, projects – I try to share, to show you how to do it in good faith so that if you or someone in your team have the initiative and drive and gumption to try, you will have the tools to succeed.

I try to be altruistic and real and helpful. All of the content I put out into the non-profit industry has been to share my knowledge. To give away information that will help charities give their supporters a better experience online, to help non-profits raise more money online, to give my best thinking, my best ideas, my best results in the hopes that it will be read, consumed and replicated.

Because that’s how I learnt. I read. I listened. I watched. And I replicated. Sometimes I got good results. Sometimes I failed. But when I see something that impresses me, something that works (regardless of the industry, the brand, the product), I give it a try. And if it works, I share it so others can replicate it too.

I know some people are cynical and think I only share for self promotion. Of course I’m trying to raise my profile and get in front of the people I want to work with! I started out in business to use my professional skills to contribute to the world in a positive way, especially in the areas that I most care about – Human Rights (Refugees, Equality, Racism) | Poverty & Homelessness | and the Environment –  if I can’t build relationships with people in the organisations that fight for these causes, the causes I care about (UNHCR, IWDA, the Wayside Chapel, One Million Women, the Wilderness Society, WWF and the Climate Council), then I fail in my purpose. But that’s not my primary motivation (to self promote).

My primary motivation is to execute excellent digital campaigns that achieve their goals.

Conflicting Priorities

But I’m human, just like you. I should be so proud of what I and Parachute Digital have achieved – and I am, but mostly I struggle to live up to the ideal of what I want to achieve.

As I said above, I don’t know which proverbial horse to jump on.

  • I am uncomfortable that I recommend to clients to create and distribute content regularly, but I am not living this currently (not blogged or sent regular newsletter in months)
  • I am trying to build a culture within Parachute Digital of work-life balance (life is more important than work) but I don’t model this
  • I believe (and try to implement) that in business your people are the most important/ valuable assets, that “if you take care of your staff, they will take care of your clients” but I’m unsure if my staff feel this is true in their day to day work?
  • I am absolute that my/ our role as a digital consultant(s) is to advise the charity what is in their best interests [to achieve the desired goal] at all times, even if it’s not working with us (Parachute Digital) – but I don’t truly know if the industry or clients believe that we live this?
  • I want to grow Parachute Digital because I know how much need there is (for digital, for more cost effective fundraising channels, for diversification) in the industry – but I am conflicted as I want to stay small to manage quality and to manage my quality of life.

As you can see, there are may conflicting priorities – between prioritising my life and my family, or the cause that I care about (and their needs and wants as well as the opportunities I know I can deliver on) and the viability of my business as well as the sustainability and wellness of my team – a group of people that share my purpose to do good and change the world. And then there are my own ideals – the person I want to be and the person I know I am.
What do I choose? Who do I prioritise?

Ego or inspiration

I’ve learnt that there is no right answer. Every person will judge me differently, and I’m ok with that. It’s my team and my family whose opinions and judgments I care about.

I am determined to build an excellent business that truly contributes to social change for Human Rights, the Environment and Homelessness & Poverty – but I aim to do it with a team that are fulfilled, feel valued, are paid well for their skills and who are each recognised as exceptional in their own right. But I greedily want it all for myself as well. I want happiness, wellness and success [as judged by the material world].

My promise to you

Here in this blog I make public and promise to myself and to my team, my clients and to you:

  • to always act with integrity. I will never ask you to do something I haven’t or wouldn’t do myself. I will never accept a project or recommend anything I know I cannot deliver and I will never lie or conceal to get a job
  • to try and do right by my team – to be honest & transparent with them, to compliment and recognise them in their success and to put their lives and relationships and emotions before the work
  • to undersell and over-deliver. I want to always give you more than you expected and were promised
  • to recognise my own wisdom, to put my own ( and my families) wellness & happiness first.
    That means to stop when I’m no longer inspired or inspiring others.

I am an inspired person. I am a successful person. I am a privileged person. And I am a flawed person. Perhaps I should not write or put this ‘manifesto’ out there – but I feel it’

As a digital consultancy that serves the not-for-profit industry we have to choose between the greater good and our needs

Idealism versus Real Life

s important to do this right now, I’m honestly not sure why – I just feel it needs to be said.

Feel free to observe, comment, judge or compliment. I’m open to it all.

If you take the time to give me feedback, I will appreciate it and reply.

Infinite love and gratitude Xx


Update 22nd August 2017.
I have been so blown away by the love and support that I’ve had from this blog. People telling me in person that it was like I read their mind, people calling me to say they read it and it touched them, people leaving beautiful comments in Facebook. Thank you so much.

My philosophy of Giver’s Gain has been confirmed today. I put something [personal] out there, just to share, and I have received so much love and encouragement and help. I am truly astonished and grateful. Thank you to you all.

Here are some of the comments in Facebook.

Facebook comments of encouragement for Shanelle Newton Clapham