The 2020 Institute of Fundraising Major Donor Conference was brilliant, with plenty of interesting and knowledgeable speakers and lots to learn, all day. There was a lot of tweeting of information and knowledge using #IoFMajorDonor or #IoFMajorDonors – so if you’re on Twitter you can learn even more over there. Here are my top three takeaways from each speaker in the morning:

Liesl Elder from Oxford University started the day with some brilliant stuff:

  • Someone is always still making money in any market situation
  • Saying thank you is about making sure your donor feels seen, feels individual and that they know you’re grateful. It’s never the time for printed signatures, nor the time for sending “stuff” unless there’s a reason for it.
  • GDPR has been a good thing as it has made us more mindful of the data we collect and how we use it… even if it was a pain to implement!

Next up was Emma Turner from Barclays Wealth. You should check out her TedX Talk and read the Barriers to Giving report from Barclays. On top of the information you’ll learn in the report, Emma shared some great gems:

  • Earned income is the norm now and when you’ve earned it, particularly if you’ve come from a position of not having much, you have a different approach to money.
  • Giving is getting smarter amongst philanthropists.
  • The Rich List is rubbish – if a colleague puts it on your desk this May, the best thing you can do is recycle it!

Jess Goulson shared her experience of network mapping with a senior leader at her organisation, with plenty of tips for success:

  • Stack your list with the “easy wins” (strongest probable connections) at the top so that the person doing the review gets comfortable with saying yes ahead of harder connections coming into view.
  • Allow time at the end of the meeting to ask, “have we missed anyone?”
  • Set expectations and boundaries upfront on how long the process can take, what follow up actions you may require this person to take, how involved they can/should be.

This was swiftly followed by Michelle Mitchell sharing some hard-learned lessons about Development Boards, which included:

  • Focus on a clear organisational need and start with WHY.
  • Build the group slowly but get them acting quickly – two is a group, so get started!
  • Turning them into passionate advocates will happen better if you can connect them to the coalface of the difference your organisation makes, rather than with a glossy brochure.

Give your major donor programme a health check now