I really enjoyed this year’s Institute of Fundraising London Conference. For many reasons.
Firstly, I loved speaking with Mark Cook, Nick Burne, Liz Tait and Max du Bois about integration and fundraising. Partly because when we initially met to plan the session we all had very different ideas about what integration was.
This could have been a problem, but we realised that was part of the point of tackling such an unruly topic; there is not one right approach to integration and the focus for integration can be different for everyone.
We covered channel and brand integration, how to better integrate service delivery and fundraising teams as well as looking at how fundraising teams could work more effectively together.
My integration pitch was about the huge potential to increase fundraising and better connect donors to the cause if fundraising and service staff worked more closely together.
As part of my research I looked up the definition of fundraising in the dictionary, apparently it is the;
‘organized activity of raising funds (as for an institution or political cause)’
I’m sorry but I think fundraising is way more than that, so I’ve written my own definition which is;
‘Building and brokering relationships to connect a cause or need with a supporter; providing them with the opportunity to make a difference to the world.
I believe the core of fundraising is connecting the donor to the cause, both intellectually and emotionally; this is both a science and an art. Alan Clayton. raised this point in his excellent plenary, claiming that ”we are in the business of emotion”.
Therefore as a fundraiser your role is to broker that donor and cause relationship and in order to be excellent at that, you need to do everything you can to understand and get closer to the cause. Your service teams are on the front line, they will have so many insights and stories that will help you do that; yet when I asked the room, who has great relationships with their service staff only one or two hands went up. I think we are missing a trick.
Other reasons why I enjoyed the conference;
- There was a space shuttle in reception.
- There were lots of great sessions with inspiring speakers on a range of topics.
- There was a great atmosphere, a real buzz.
- I met some inspiring colleagues, both old friends and new faces
- I loved the near showdown in the technology masterclass. (You know who you are)
- I came away inspired and proud to work in a job where I feel I can make a difference
One of the biggest challenges, is taking time out of the day-to-day routine to learn from others and reflect on the work we are doing. But that is exactly what we must to do to be at the top of our game. It’s conferences like this that leave you invigorated and inspired full of ideas and ready to take on the world.
Well done the London Institute of Fundraising Committee. I’ll see you next year.