Your charity has superpowers!

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Most charities have a superpower. Some just don’t know it yet.

Your superpower is the answer to the question “what rarefied opportunity/ies can supporters access through us?”

Royal charities, and all those with celebrity patrons, know the answer to this question. The arts sector leads the field in offering rarefied opportunities, but most charities have never:
-          formally and globally considered this question
-          worked out how to deploy them strategically to the greatest benefit of the cause.

Most organisations I work with know and deploy most of their superpowers (the honours and opportunities that they can bestow), but:

-          have not identified all of them
-          undervalue many of them
-          aren’t strategic with how they disburse them.

2 simple steps

1.       Identify your superpower/s

2.       Use them wisely (“with great power, comes great responsibility”)

To fire up your creative thinking, here are some superpower conversations that I have recently driven with different charities.

The University

Step one: identify your superpower/s

You are a seat of learning, you can share cutting-edge insights, spread knowledge and formally bestow intellectual recognition on people. You can honour people’s knowledge and offer a platform of recognition. Be an intellectual hub.

Step 2: use it wisely

This university had a process for awarding honorary degrees, but not one that considered the existing or prospective value of the awardees to the University. They also had no programme for engaging their hon docs in the life of the University.

We devised a journey of opportunities that drew supporters to the University in order to join the debate, share their knowledge and gain recognition. This included building a programme for hon docs. One very simple idea was bringing our eminent academics and accomplished alumni together to debate.

The old age charity

Step one: identify your superpower/s

You have the trust, ear and gratitude of 1000s of local elderly people and their families. You have in depth knowledge about the challenges and opportunities for this growing demographic.

Step 2: use it wisely

Local government and business need the input of older users/customers in order to meet their needs/remain competitive. I worked with this charity to draw up a plan for an income stream from consultancy and advice; facilitating focus groups, training, consultancy and workshops.

The community organisation

Step one: identify your superpower/s

Bringing together people with shared values and priorities to meet other people like themselves and improve their community. The perfect small pond for aspiring ‘big fish’.

Step 2: use it wisely

I worked with one community organisation to recognise its aspiring ‘big fish’ and recruit them as activists/ambassadors: extending the charity’s reach by augmenting ambassadors’ reputation.


Every organisation has a superpower (rarefied knowledge or access, honours or connections) that can be deployed to drive up support and hasten your goals. All you need to do is work out what they are and use them wisely.


If this article has made you throw up your hands and say “it’s all right for X, they’ve got Y”, read my blog about ‘cause envy’: the sapping belief that your charity would be a doddle to raise funds for if it only had the cute animals/ill children/membership lists of another organisation.

Please add your insights on deploying your organisation’s superpower/s to the chat below or share, like, post this using the links below.

 Ilana Jackman is a fundraising coach and consultant. If you want to talk superpowers, or any other aspect of fundraising, get in touch.

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