My name is Laura, and I am a fundraising nerd. (Hi Laura!)
What’s more, I am a fundraising conference nerd. I LOVE conferences — the community, the learning, and all the fun that happens. So when I first learned about the International Fundraising Congress (IFC) six years ago, I felt the fire in my belly to one day attend – ignite.
IFC is the world’s largest fundraising conference and is held in Noordwijkerhout in the Netherlands each year, and it became my “unachievable” goal to attend it. Then, eight months ago, I got the word from Blakely that I would be attending IFC this year and I was OVER the moon!
When I arrived at the conference my face was hurting from smiling. As the bus pulled into the parking lot and I saw the conference signage I was almost brought to tears (see, told you I was a conference nerd) because I couldn’t believe I was really there.
The sessions at IFC were amazing. Presentations and discussions talked about what we are really doing in fundraising and the philosophy behind why we do it. People from all over the world came together and shared their experience and thoughts. I was thrilled at the opportunity to sit in a room with some of the titans of our industry and learn alongside them.
Is it your “unachievable” goal to attend IFC? Well, I hope you, like me, still get the chance. But knowing that there are many fundraisers who didn’t have the privilege of going this year,
I want to share some key takeaways to help spread the knowledge around.
#1: BIG CONVERSATIONS
As fundraisers we need to have more of the big conversations. In the opening plenary we were challenged with questions such as, “Should we be using the term beneficiaries?” and “Is the system set up to actually solve problems or are we a self-perpetuating industry?” These big questions are questions we all need to tackle as we move forward in an ever-evolving world. I would love to have more of these conversations.
#2: SCIENCE OF FUNDRAISING
Are we focused on the science of fundraising? Or are we stuck in the “we’ve always done it this way” behaviour? At a session focused on neuroscience, I learned more about how our brains work. Even reversing an image can have a subconscious effect on the human brain and can impact results! I encourage more fundraisers to focus on the research and look outside philanthropic expertise to improve the work that we are putting out into the world.
#3: VALUE PROPOSITION
What is your core message or value proposition? Can you articulate it in a tweet? In the session led by Steve Martin (no not that Steve Martin) from the Fred Hollows Foundation in Australia, we talked a lot about how that organization managed to reduce their message down to its simplest form. I’ve been doing more and more of this work with my clients, and it has helped to streamline their messaging, which helps to raise more money.
Want to hear more about what I learned? Chat about any of the big questions? Learn more about how to distill down your organization’s value proposition?