What did Killer learn at IFC 2019?

Every year, fundraisers and changemakers from across the globe come together at the International Fundraising Congress (IFC) to share, inspire and collaborate thinking and ideas. With sessions ranging from interactive masterclasses and deep-dive workshops to large-scale plenaries, there’s something for everyone in the charity sector, whatever area they work in.

This year, we were lucky enough to be invited to attend – and partner with Resource Alliance on #ProjectWARP (more on that later). We know not everyone who’d have liked to be there could make it, so we’ve asked Rob (COO) & Louisa (Senior Account Manager) to fill us in on what you may have missed…

Hi guys! First off – what was the most interesting session you took part in at IFC?

Rob: I joined a debate about the relationship between charities and agencies, entitled “The relationship between agencies and charities is broken; how can we fix it?”. I would say it isn’t broken at the point of contact between the individuals working in the relationship (i.e. between the Fundraising Manager and Account Manager) and there are plenty of good examples of ingenious work being produced in adverse conditions, but it is under so much pressure from governance & procurement on one side and commercial challenges on the other, that systemically it is difficult for the individuals directly involved in the relationship to achieve their objectives. Significantly, it is almost impossible for a project to really fly as it is very difficult for the agency to bring the value they can really offer, save for the occasions where there is a very resourceful manager in the charity who can deftly navigate the barriers within their organisation. 

Louisa: I attended a really interesting session on a hot topic at the moment… the world of gaming and interactive entertainment and how this is having an impact on the charity sector. It’s potentially an area some charities may shy away from but we’re having a few conversations with some of our clients around gaming at the moment. It’s crazy the amount of money platforms such as Twitch have raised over the past couple of years* and they’re hitting a whole different generation. Add to that Gen Z becoming one of the most socially aware generations. It’s definitely a new way of fundraising that we need to pay more attention to.    

*Since 2011, Twitch Creators have amassed over $150 million for charities around the world    

 

Was there anything you learned that surprised you?

Rob: I was surprised (and maybe I shouldn’t have been?) at the scale of ambition in the sector and the strength of feeling about the issues the world faces at this point in time. The climate crisis, financial fragility, a rise of far-right politics, divided world powers, increasing numbers of refugees from war and climate change. As was mentioned in plenaries at the event, the world is at a turning point and we need to powerfully influence which way it will go. The markets won’t do it – they will just keep following the money. Government will not do it without influence – they will keep chasing populism. The private sector can play a big part – but it won’t unless we campaign to change the way demand affects their decisions.

Louisa: I completely echo Rob on this point. It really felt like there a real urgency from everyone (those hosting and also those attending) that now is the time for change. 

 

What were some of the most useful topics covered for fundraising teams within charities? 

Rob: I thought the value proposition session by Bernard Ross et al was very potent. Supporters of charities are paying for an experience. They’re generally not buying a physical product from you so the experience is everything. Therefore, creating a proposition which will meet their emotional needs is absolutely essential.

Louisa: Every day there were a real range of workshops, sessions and talks covering a mixture of topics, from events in a digital age to the data science used to uncover hidden income opportunities. Each session was designed with the charities and fundraising teams front of mind. I felt a really useful topic explored at IFC 2019 were the current trends and opportunities for charity video. Often charities, particularly the smaller ones, shy away from video as it’s seen as an expensive means of advertising, but that doesn’t have to be the case and video content is really important for charities. More than 100 million hours of video is watched on Facebook everyday and it’s crucial charities have a say and appear in this space.

Another session I attended called ‘I Wish I’d Thought Of That’. In the session 9 people from across the sector took to the stage and spoke about a campaign, product or event which they found inspiring and wish they’d thought of as a fundraiser. It was a really inspiring session where ideas from all over the world were picked apart and discussed. It’s important that everyone came away from the IFC having learnt new things but also inspired to make change in their lives and work in the sector, and this session really focused on that. 

IFC 2019 saw the launch of #projectWARP – what’s it all about?

Rob: #ProjectWARP is the development of a digital platform which can reach people way beyond the IFC. There is huge value in the content and connections produced by and for IFC, but only 1,000 people annually can attend the event. There are hundreds of thousands of changemakers in the world, some without the resources available to many. Talent is universal, but sadly opportunity is not. How do we create a tool which makes opportunity universal; whether you are an executive in London, or a farmer in rural Argentina? If you have an idea that could make the world a better place, we need to enable you to have access to the connections, the content, the learning, the opportunity to take that idea and make it fly.

In the words of Resource Alliance, the organisers of IFC:

“When you come to IFC, and meet people from all over the world, you leave informed, energised and inspired. What if we could create that all year-round using technology to connect us all? And not to connect just fundraisers – but changemakers for good of all kinds. A community you can be a part of to help bring change for good. Old ways are no longer working, so we need to help one another to work out how to make change for a better world. #ProjectWARP is the codename for the creation of this. A World Action Resource Platform! How to get from where we are – to where we want to be – as fast as possible.”

 

For those who couldn’t make it, what can people do post-event to be involved? 

They can contribute to #ProjectWARP by expressing their views through the survey at www.projectwarp.org
– and please do! It’s an amazing initiative that has the potential to do amazing things; be a part of it.