Monday, 15 October 2012

When pitches go bad...

As you might expect from the content of this blog, BFTF occasionally finds himself asking organisations to take part in activities or to change their practices.

Sometimes it goes well, sometimes not so well.

This post is a home to those instances where things didn't go to plan, with the aim of learming some lessons and perhaps showing how things shouldn't be done.

14 Oct 12 : Bring a Tin at a local Mosque.
BFTF had talked to the chair of the mosque committee a couple of times about the possibility of holding a "Bring a Tin" event there and had been told that it needed to be raised at a committee meeting and that BFTF should come back in a couple of weeks. So BFTF did exactly that and the chair said that this was not something the mosque was interested in because their congregation was struggling economically and could not afford to donate anything. BFTF pointed out that, firstly, whether people gave or not was a different issue to whether the event should be help at all; and secondly it didn't seem to be stopping the mosque from asking the congregation to donate to the mosque every Friday.

The chair also said that the mosque often had people coming and asking from London and elsewhere asking for donations. To which BFTF responded that this was an issue relating to the poor here in Nottingham, not elsewhere, that it was a Muslims duty to look after their neighbours and that the event was only asking people to bring in a 30p can of beans. When asked if they did anything to help the poor in Nottingham, the chair said that they DID help people by collecting for the poor in Kashmir.

BFTF pointed out that a key argument of the far-right was that Muslims only wanted to look after themselves and did not care at all about anybody else and that what BFTF was hearing was that, as far as this mosque was concerned, the far-right were correct.

The chair also said that that did not believe there was anyone in Nottingham who was short of food and asked for the names and addresses of the poor people (but changed the subject when BFTF asked whether providing names would result in the mosque helping them directly).

So what went wrong?
Leaving aside the fact that, had BFTF been in the chairs place, he would have signed up to a "Bring A Tin" event in a heartbeat, some reflection suggests that BFTF went about this all wrong.

BFTF didn't build up a relationship with the Chair first, but essentially went straight into the pitch.

BFTF challenged the chair when he said "no" - which made him very defensive and led to the unproductive dialogue described above. Instead, perhaps BFTF should have taken it on the chin and said simply "thank you for taking the time to thing about this" and left it at that.

14 Oct 12 : Bring a Tin at (another) local Mosque.
Had talked to the relevant person at this mosque about "Bring a Tin" a couple of weeks ago and they had discussed it with their committee before responding that the mosque didn't want to do this at the moment and that BFTF could perhaps contact them again in a couple of months..

Trying hard to learn the lessons of the item above, BFTF responded with a simple "That's disappointing, but thanks for getting back to me"

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