I Wish I’d Thought Of That is certainly one of the highlights of the year for me.
It’s a very simple, but very clever premise: get nearly 20 speakers and ask them to talk for seven minutes each about fundraising campaigns that they wished they’d thought of. What you get is a reminder of why we were motivated to work in the sector in the first place:
Passion, good ideas, and no self-promotion or sales pitches, because each speaker is shining a light on the brilliance of others.
The whole thing is very tightly stage managed so that all the speakers are well prepared. They’re clearly encouraged to focus on lessons from the campaigns they’re showcasing.
And so many good ideas were presented that it’s impossible to do them justice in this blog. I warmly encourage you to watch the full video or read this storify. Instead, here in this blog are some of the themes that came across most strongly for me:
Develop tech that doesn’t get in the way
Jonathan Waddingham spoke about Tap Dogs, The Blue Cross’s street fundraising campaign using dogs with contactless payment devices, and Joe Saxton chose Pennies – cashless donating at the till point. Both make donating easy through innovative technology, and tap into existing behaviour. “Innovation can be taking something that’s already there and applying it in a new way” said Jon.
Be inspired, learn, plagiarise, but…
“Plagiarism is the most sincere form of flattery” Ken Burnett told attendees in summing up. And certainly with the learnings from each fundraising idea so clearly pointed out, you could almost hear the cogs turning in the brains of everybody there. We were all thinking “How can I apply this in my organisation?” Certainly, lots was transferable, but let’s remember that many of the great ideas involved a very close synergy between the campaign and the beneficiary, so “drag and drop” may not always work as well as the original.
The future of fundraising is in safe hands
— Fiona Pattison (@fiona_pattison) November 30, 2016
There really were some cracking speakers in the room, and I found it heartening and exciting to think that fundraising will be in such capable hands for decades to come. Hat tips in particular to Lizzi Hollis, Dana Segal, Jill Richens, and (the winner of the ‘popular vote’) Alfie Waldron. Although I considered heckling him when he dropped in to the presentation that he is 24 years old…
Be happy. Be authentic. Be brave. Be storytellers.
Alfie told us about Jean the Bee, fundraiser for Age UK. He had visited her and found the key to her success was her positivity and happiness, which she found reciprocated.
There hasn’t been one person who’s been disagreeable or nasty. They’re lovely.”
Also highlighting the importance of positivity and empathy was Suzi Attree, who spoke about this film from SOS 4 Children, which showed the kindness and generosity of strangers in response to a child suffering from cold.
And Louise McCathie chose the fundraising campaign for Refuge in response to the harrowing domestic violence storyline in The Archers. We need to own our own stories and brave with them, she told us.
— Alexander Morgan (@alexjaymorgan) November 30, 2016
Have the courage to take a step back
The key lesson I took from successful fundraising campaigns highlighted by Lizzie Carter (Emmy & Jake’s story for Royal Marsden) and Mandy Johnson (Caroline Jones’s #KickersModelsOwn for Cancer Research UK) was that the charities were brave enough to take a back seat and realise the true power of authentic voices of their fundraisers’ personal stories. It wasn’t about control or branding, but making personal, emotional connections.
Speak authentically and normalise ‘difficult’ subject matters
— Open (@LifeAtOpen) November 30, 2016
And speaking of making personal connections, I was struck by Adam Buckles, who spoke about NSPCC’s work to normalise talking about leaving a legacy, while retaining a passion for the cause.
But for me the most powerful speaker of all was Becki Jupp, who spoke bravely and movingly about the Tommy’s #MisCOURAGE campaign. There was such force in the honesty of her own storytelling, a force which mirrored perfectly the important work Tommy’s has done to get people talking honestly about their experiences of miscarriage.
— Matthew Sherrington (@m_sherrington) November 30, 2016
So, congratulations to Open and SOFII, who pulled off another tremendous event, which left the many fundraisers in the room buzzing (like Jean the Bee) with ideas and inspiration.
Until next time!