(Glasgow, 1-2 October 2019)
Once again fundraisers gathered in Glasgow at the beginning of October for an inspiring 2 days of learning, networking, and exploring new resources at the annual IoF Scottish Conference. My top takeaways from this multi-stranded conference are varied as I attended a variety of sessions, not just those focussing on trust fundraising.
- Build strong internal relationships. Whether the turbulence being experienced is organisational, project, or interpersonal, strong internal relationships can help you to smooth things out, take chances on unique solutions, and encourage others to combine forces. Also, strong internal relationships will ease the development of the strong external relationships required to sustain and grow income streams.
- Set personal boundaries and know yourself. Fundraising can be a rewarding career, but it can also be tough. As we enter rather rough seas, know and understand your own personal and ethical boundaries so you can manage your mental health and reputation.
- Collaborating in a competitive environment. 30 disparate charities awarded major grants by the People’s Postcode Lottery Trust have found working together post-award to be really rewarding. Once past the initial barriers and assumptions, they made the time to establish relationships with each other and with PPL so they can learn from each other’s mistakes and successes and as a group have been much more solution focussed. Their advice is to be brave and share so that everyone benefits from knowledge and experience.
- Trusts Toolkits. Trust Fundraiser Susan Sheridan walked us through her own toolkit as an example of how the resources, processes and systems she has collected and follows have been really beneficial and time saving for her practice. From identifying what resources and systems are already available to understanding the context in which funder, charity, project and beneficiary are found, a toolkit can help you stay on track when a myriad of details and changes fly at you.
- Culture change requires a strategic approach. As the world around our charities becomes more unsteady, many organisations are hesitant to take on internal changes – especially turning established processes on their heads. But if you always do the same thing, chances are you’ll get the same results. Spearheaded by their Fundraising Manager and supported by external expertise, Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs, crafted a detailed road map including internal champions, logical arguments and evidence to successfully change the way they approach their income streams.
- Being the best leader you can be. Whilst the definition of leadership may have changed over the decades, it’s still about getting the right people in the right place with the right tools so they can succeed. Leadership skills are more fluid and are important regardless of where you are on the organisational ladder. Likewise, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or somewhere in the middle, the session on Getting ready for Leadership emphasised that it’s very much about knowing your own skills and personality, and understanding when it’s time to step up or back. It’s about the solution, not you, so bring in the expertise and knowledge you don’t have and then let your team excel at what it was created to do.
- Consider all the sessions on offer, not just those that are in your own workstreams, to add new tools and approaches to your repertoire and to examine your situation from a different angle and as part of the bigger picture.