As the sun shone brightly on London’s Barbican Centre on Monday 4th July, a wave of excitement was washing across the entire UK fundraising community. Why? The Chartered Institute of Fundraising Convention finally made its in-person return after two years of being held virtually.
Not only were we on the guest list, we also had the privilege of sponsoring the conference alongside some of the biggest names in the industry. Now, we could have easily handed out anonymous gift bags from a stand but that’s not our style.
This is why we created the Wall of Champions: a virtual celebration of the achievements of extraordinary individuals. Each champion is recognised by their peers with a message of thanks, gratitude and admiration for the selfless work they do for others.
So with the foundations of the Wall of Champions firmly in place, we settled in for three inspiring days exploring the future of fundraising! 🙌
Our Conference Highlights
Upgrade Your Workplace Culture 🧑🎤
We kicked off the conference with a session led by renowned psychological scientist Dr Julia Shaw. Julia led us through an open discussion explaining why creating a culture where people can bring their true selves to work everyday is more important than ever. Whilst it’s important, without buy-in from workplace leaders, true change isn’t actionable. Without personal investment it’s not possible to promote diversity, break down barriers and reduce friction.
Engaging CEOs With Fundraising 🤝
Navigating how to connect CEOs and senior leaders with fundraising - when workplaces face unprecedented challenges - is a tough task. In this complex session that was a to and fro of opinions on whether CEOs should set the example or whether CEOs are too busy to be involved. Funraisin CMO/COO Keith Williams argues that finding the time is important if you want to lead from the front and keep your organisation relevant.
Exploring and Linking Your Purpose To Your Organisation’s Vision, Mission and Values 🧑🚀
Motivation expert Judith Sabah took us on a journey of self discovery on how to manifest positive behavioural changes. Julia had us imagine our mind as a piece of land: if you plant weeds (negative thoughts) they will grow quickly - planting positive thoughts (crops) will grow slowly over time and must be nurtured. Judith also explored the difference between equity and equality. Giving everyone the same platform doesn’t mean that their ability to succeed will be the same.
Using Narrative to Take Flight 🚀
We kicked off day two with a session led by the eternally inspirational Maya Ghazal. In 2015, Maya Ghazal fled Damascus aged 16 and within 5 years became the World's First Female Syrian Refugee Pilot. Now a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Maya discussed the preconceptions surrounding refugees and why a powerfully honest narrative is integral to impactful fundraising. We left the session realising that whilst fundraising isn't always easy, there will always be people there to help you out and that dreams do come true.
Creating an Inclusive Online Supporter Experience 🧑💻
Did you know that 20% of the UK population has disabilities or digital literacy issues preventing them from using a website? Neither did we. Improving accessibility across the entire supporter journey should be a top priority for any charities wanting to compete in today's market. Utilising the expertise of experts and conducting real-world testing with users is the only way to ensure that your sites are fit for purpose. However, this isn’t something charities should try to cut corners on. Building accessibility functions into design is far cheaper than doing an audit and fixing it later.
Adapting to An Ever Changing Digital Landscape With the Power of Facebook 📱
Are algorithms increasing our social appetite and making us less lazy? In this session it was explained how digital & traditional acquisition mediums can collaborate to deliver incredible results. However, when questions turned to the audience it was learned that only 10% of charities using Facebook are hitting their KPIs. The first place to start is to break down your consumer stages and create activity triggers based on behaviour. This is done by using Facebook to collect first party data that people are willing to give. You can then use this data to ideate both your digital campaigns and in-person lead generation. Never use Facebook in isolation and always look to follow the latest trends.
To Infinity and Beyond
Day three kicked off with a session lead by adventurer, explorer and pioneer Dwayne Fields. In this globetrotting session Dwayne discussed his inspirational journey that has taken him around the world and back. Whilst scaling mountains and trekking ice tundras may come naturally to Dwayne - fundraising doesn’t. The message being that every part of the fundraising journey is challenging but the impact that you know you’re having on those in need is worth every moment of personal sacrifice.
The Future of Virtual Fundraising 🔮
With the return of mass participation events, what does the future hold for virtual fundraising? During the pandemic virtual fundraising became the only option for supporter participation and it was universally embraced. With the return of mass participation events, charities want to keep riding the wave of momentum but this is easier said than done. Having thrown all their resources into virtual campaigns, charities are now struggling to run successful hybrid campaigns. With a rise in the cost of living and a shift in supporter behaviour, it is vital for charities to find balance. In our opinion, creating an engaging online experience is key to making all fundraisers feel valued, engaged and part of your community.
Supporter Retention, Development and Engagement in a Digital Age 👯
Move over acquisition, retention & engagement are top dogs now! As budgets are tightened globally, understanding how to nurture lasting & fruitful relationships with fewer donors is a challenge we all need to prepare for. The old adage of ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get’ may feel like a cliche but with regular donors it really does work. Start by identifying your ‘hand raisers’ and nurture your relationship with them. Regardless of available resources, you can invest in personalised experiences for regular donors that go above and beyond mass retargeting. Trust us, a little stewardship can go a long way!
Condensing an entire conference down to a few key takeaways seems unfair. However there are few key learnings that really stood out and these are the things that we as an industry should look to implement going forward.
Our 5 key takeaways:
1. Utilise the knowledge of experts with professional & lived experience.
2. Diversity and inclusion are not just buzzwords - they’re vital to making real change!
3. Technological innovation in fundraising is not being utilised effectively.
4. Retaining and engaging existing supporters is more valuable than acquisition.
5. The future of hybrid fundraising is still unknown and ours to define.
Let's build the future of Fundraising
As the curtain closes on another incredible Chartered Institute of Fundraising convention, we hope our highlights have made you feel as excited for the future as we are 🔥
We are still in awe at just how innovative, passionate and diverse our incredible sector has become. It was a privilege to share the experience with a community dedicated to empowering charities to achieve incredible things. Finally, we want to thank every single volunteer, attendee and speaker for what has been an experience we'll never forget 💙