The flamingo and the holy grail

A colleague remarked to me the other day: ‘when I read your blog and see stupid marketing examples, I read on to check it’s not something I’ve done.’ To that end, I’ve decided I need a fictitious charity / service Organisation. This way people won’t know whether I’m drawing on past or current experiences, or simply making them up.

So I needed a name for my imaginary Organisation. I considered something serious – momentarily – then opted for the Free The Flamingo Foundation. (In case you had not already guessed from the Tweedledee / Tweedledum references, I do love my Alice in Wonderland.)

So what sort of Organisation is the Free the Flamingo Foundation? Well, it’s a charity that raises money to rescue flamingoes enslaved to the game of croquet by the Queen of Hearts. Once liberated from the bloodthirsty Queen, these beautiful birds receive a multi-displinary service. After all, they need physiotherapy to recover from having their heads used as a croquet mallet; they may need other kinds of medical attention and/or counselling too. After the physical and mental health of these birds has been restored, it’s likely they will need assistance from an employment specialist to help them set on a new path. (You have to realise that the temptation to start a discussion on the employment prospects of flamingoes is oh so tempting, but alas, that would be too much of a digression.)

OK, now my fictitious Organisation has clients, multi-displinary service providers and the fundraisers to generate income. What else does it need? *SIGH*. A database.

I’m going to ignore the needs of the fundraising department for today (I do so at the risk some colleagues may not talk to me tomorrow!)

Surely finding a clinical database for the Free the Flam… oh stuff it… the FTFF is not going to be that difficult? After all what do I need? A database that will record the personal details of the flamingoes rescued – that’s not too hard. Most databases do that reasonably well. What else? When the flamingoes came into care, how long they stayed, which service providers are helping each one, what the service outcomes were, how much the service cost, who was billed for the service (where applicable). There’s quite an array of information to cover, yet it’s all doable, right? Of course it is. It’s just data and processes with some techie stuff thrown in.

So I ask myself why it is that in 12 years I’ve NEVER met a service provider who raves about their database. In fact I don’t recall the last time I met a service provider who even seemed vaguely satisfied with their database. It doesn’t matter whether the Organisation does animals welfare, social disadvantage, international aid, disability or health: I hear a common message. Finding a database that does everything we want is like looking for the holy grail.

And yet, that’s what I’m doing at the moment. Looking for the holy grail. If it’s so difficult, why am I bothering? I think the Cheshire Cat has the answer for me:

‘We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.’ [said the Cheshire Cat].

‘How do you know I’m mad?’ said Alice

‘You must be’, said the Cat, ‘or you wouldn’t have come here.’

I can’t argue with that.

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Posted on June 15, 2011, in Allied health, Data, Disability, Fundraising, Not for Profit and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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