Craig Linton gives his top tips for making the most of your time at the IOF National Fundraising Convention
Attending the IOF National Fundraising Convention is a big commitment of both time and money. You owe it to yourself and your charity to make the most of the investment. Here are some things to think about before, during and after convention so you can be the ‘best you can be’ and make the most of the event.
Agree your convention learning objectives with your line manager. Are you going to solve a specific problem, get inspiration for an aspect of your fundraising or just to strengthen your day-to-day knowledge?
Once you’ve done this, then do your homework! Read the session summaries and decide which tracks and sessions are ‘musts’. Don’t be afraid to mix things up a bit as well. Inspiration can come from unlikely sources. If you’re a community fundraiser, why not try a legacy or major donor session and see if it challenges your thinking?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You’re there to learn and speakers want to help, so ask about anything you’re unsure on. If you’re shy, then approach speakers at the end of the session or even e-mail your questions afterwards. You’ll be surprised by the quality of responses you get.
It might seem old-fashioned, but take notes with a pen rather than on your laptop. Research shows that you remember and understand information when you write rather than type notes!
Check out the delegate list and see if there is anyone you’d like to speak to. This could be someone in a similar role at another charity, a supplier or expert in your field. Tweet, email or hang around the exhibition area and see if you can arrange a time to talk.
Don’t rush off at the end of the day! Hang around the bar area and chat to colleagues. Us fundraisers tend to be a pretty friendly and social bunch! It can be awkward, but stick with it. You will have some of the most interesting conversations, and do some of the best networking, at the end of the day.
Review your notes and share what you have learned with colleagues. Decide on any priority actions and changes you plan to make as a result of convention. Draw up an action plan and review it regularly.
Measure the impact convention has had on your fundraising. For example, if a change you make to an appeal results in a five per cent increase in donations, then make a note. By showing the ROI of attending, then you will be able to make a strong case for further investment in training and attend convention again in 2016.
Taking personal responsibility and accountability for your personal development opens up new opportunities for your charity and your career. Follow the tips above and you’ll be on your way to being a better fundraiser and raising the bar of fundraising in your organisation and across the sector.
Craig Linton is Global Fundraising Advisor at Amnesty International, and a member of the National Fundraising Convention board