Why Waterloo Bridge is interesting

18 July 2013 | By Cause4 staff


This blog was written by guest blogger Richard Sved, Director, 3rd Sector Mission Control, and charity sector professional.


The other day, I was walking along the Thames to a meeting, and stopped to take this picture (also below) of Waterloo Bridge.

It’s a very interesting picture. No, really, it is.

Look at it again. Can you see how the underside is really dirty, but the sides are pretty clean?

Well here’s an interesting little-known fact: Waterloo Bridge actually cleans itself! It’s made from Portland Stone, which releases cleansing chemicals whenever it rains. And it rains quite a lot in London.

(It was also mostly built by women during the Second World War, which is another interesting fact, but not the point of this blog.)


Waterloo Bridge
Waterloo Bridge

So, yes, a self-cleaning bridge – how clever is that? Next they’ll be telling you that the Forth Road Bridge paints itself.

But why did it prompt me to write this blog? What can charities learn from Waterloo Bridge? Well, It’s a handy metaphor for sustainability.

In today’s climate, charities will increasingly need to diversify their income, so that they are less dependent on fundraising alone. What expertise does your charity have that it can sell?

I find this mission money chart very helpful. If the work you are doing is completely ‘on mission’ and it brings the organisation income, all the better.

And if it is less on mission, but brings the organisation income, it’s worth considering because it can subsidise the ‘on mission’ work which you exist to do. Finally, if the activity is ‘off mission’ and bringing in little or costing you money, you probably shouldn’t consider doing it!

So, try and work out which parts of your charity can ‘clean themselves’ – or risk facing a Waterloo Sunset.

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