Having taken on a new brief to develop and expand a working programme for service user involvement at Turning Point, I was looking forward to the Institute of Fundraising, North West Annual Conference and the opportunity it provides for self-evaluation and exchanging ideas. It did not disappoint.
The plenaries provided an excellent platform for further discussion, on topics ranging from self-regulation; the value of public and organisational research; the ethics of face-to-face fundraising; and more besides.
I think the real bonus of the conference is that it acts as a catalyst for stimulating debate. With a wide range of organisations being represented there was no shortage of opinion. Fundraising is not easy, but it brings out a wave of passion and commitment that is rarely seen elsewhere. Looking for extra money is not about the money itself but about what it can provide for those who need it. The conference was realistic in evaluating the worth of fundraising and assessing the hurdles that need to be overcome.
It was also evident that the voluntary sector is a vibrant community undergoing change, some of the change coming about through external forces - but much coming from within.
By looking at the issues that affect our ability to win funding we are developing strategies to cope with the changes in perception of the sector.
I got the feeling that the fundraising establishment is coming of age and is demanding due recognition of its value. No matter how many initiatives come from government, there will always be a need for the flexible and innovative approach of individual fundraising teams.
The conference was informative, the debates stimulating and the whole process of self-examination was inspirational.
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