INSTITUTE OF FUNDRAISING: Institute offers bursaries for National Convention

Lindsay Boswell is chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising

From next week we will change the format of this page to allow space to profile different areas of this summer's National Convention. This event is just one in a wide series of fundraising conventions and conferences that run throughout the year and across the whole of the UK. Each national and regional group of the Institute runs an event that is designed to meet the needs of fundraisers in that area.

The convention runs over three days and brings some 1,200 fundraisers together under the same roof. It is the focus of the Institute's year and is the closest the profession of fundraising gets to defining itself.

The key strength of the event is the sheer mix of fundraisers present and the range of subjects covered.

Last year, 40 per cent of delegates were from charities outside the "top 100". More than 30 per cent of charity delegates held budgets and described themselves as department heads, appeal directors or chief executives and yet 40 per cent were there for the first time and were relatively new to fundraising. It's the chance to mix with all aspects of the fundraising community that makes the event so special.

A volunteer board, which pulls the convention content together, is chosen for the members' knowledge of their specialisation and to ensure fresh ideas and thinking come to the event. The content covers all the main areas of fundraising discipline and the column below will highlight aspects of this over the coming weeks. Speakers are sourced and selected by this board with past speakers needing to have scored well in order to be invited back again. Using a volunteer board with new and fresh faces means that innovative and original ideas and speakers are being sourced.

New for this year is a series of sessions that are longer in duration, allowing a more detailed and complex subject area to be looked at in-depth.

This is likely to appeal to the more experienced fundraiser with delegates being expected to contribute to the debate and discussion that will take place.

We want to continue to make the National Convention as accessible as the localised events that run across the country throughout the year.

To help achieve this, the number of bursaries has been increased fivefold and there are now 100 places available through the bursary scheme. Details can be found on the web site, www.institute-of-fundraising.org.uk. The schedule of sessions is due to be launched later in March.

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