Caring and sharing – real fundraising knowledge

First day of the Institute of Fundraising’s London region conference and again my head is as full as my notebook.

Having previously attended the Institute of Fundraising’s National Convention, I had very high expectations of the seminar content and delivery.

I’ve not been disappointed. Rob Woods’ opening plenary, ‘Get more of what you want’ set the tone with a motivational challenge to become great at what we do, by breaking out of old, personal beliefs.

He cited the example of a struggling major donor fundraiser, still believing (as his parents had told him at age six) that it was wrong to talk to strangers and that talking about money was impolite (familiar?). We were encouraged that once-appropriate beliefs could be changed. If we were prepared to be open and believe…

Being open to new beliefs was a great footing to step forward from. In the following Masterclass on Integration, led by Liz Tait (Battersea Dogs and Cats home), Lucy Gower (NSPCC), Nick Burne (Think) and Max du Bois (Spencer du Bois) I was particularly challenged about brand being coherent not consistent (no more brand police), replacing channel thinking with touchpoint thinking (actually I was more affirmed by this) and encouraged by the benefits that integration can bring (however painful getting there may be).

Afternoon seminars covering ‘Giving locally’ and the opportunities presented by community event fundraising continued to fill up pages in my notebook and I could stay up all night expounding upon the ideas I’ve come away with (except I should sleep before Day 2!), so I’ll get to my point.

There’s a big difference between an educational gathering of commercial organisations and the fundraising community – those that care, really share. The @IofLondon conference’s content is high quality and leading edge, delivered by experienced fundraising practitioners who know what they’re talking about. But more than that, it’s honest and non-competitive. People’s agendas aren’t self-serving, so the information that’s shared is real and credible.

And what did I take away from that? The truth. What really works and what doesn’t. Honest stories of real challenges, failures and successes – real information and practical experience that could deliver more successful fundraising in the future.

For charities and their beneficiaries, what gets better than that?

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Life saving fundraising for the homeless – The Big Sleep Out

It’s time to put my money where my mouth is.

Ok, it’s actually time to persuade other people to put their money where my mouth is.

Although I’ve been working for, volunteering for and giving to charities for the last six years, I’m ashamed to admit that this is the first time I’ve formally done anything that requires me to personally fundraise. How bad is that?

This year I felt inspired to jump in with both feet and join in a fundraising event for a charity I’ve been involved with for the last four years – Off the Fence, who serve those most at risk in Brighton and Hove. There’s is a ministry of social action and Christian outreach, primarily working with the homeless, vulnerable women and young people.

Off the Fence Homeless

This is Steve. Earlier this year I was involved in producing some promotional material for the charity, including producing publicity photos. We had to use models for some shots, but this guy volunteered to be a face of the charity’s work. He’s for real and so is this image – in fact, this is how he has to spend a lot of his time. Outside, in all weathers, with little more than a sleeping bag, some cardboard, a doorway and a bottle of booze to protect him from the elements.

That’s why I’m helping. Sleeping bags like that one save lives. So, to raise awareness and money (to buy and distribute sleeping bags to guys like Steve) I’m taking part in Off the Fence’s Big Sleep Out on December 16th this year. With my wife, we’re aiming to raise over £1,000 – if we do raise over £1,000, I’ll go through the night without a sleeping bag – after all that’s what many have to do.

If you’d like to know more…

Read more about the Big Sleep Out

Read more about Off the Fence

Sponsor me here – Just £10 can save a life

I’ll let you know how it goes!

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