INSTITUTE OF FUNDRAISING: Never too early to begin conference preparations

LINDSAY BOSWELL, chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising

The summer is barely over and the conference season is almost upon us. The next four months see fundraising conferences in Wales and Scotland as well as five events covering the whole of England (keep checking Agenda on p5 for upcoming events).

The planning for the National Fundraisers' Convention in July 2003 is already well under way. Each year the chair (this year Julius Wolff-Ingham from The Salvation Army) is responsible for pulling together a volunteer board that meets each month in the run up to next July. The board has the difficult job of putting together the content of the conference using two sources for this material.

One is sessions that have been suggested by potential speakers. This is where I have a real call for help. There are many organisations doing exciting, new and innovative fundraising. If you feel that you fall into this category then come and tell your peers about what you are doing.

How does it help? First it is good for the profile of your charity; it certainly does you no harm; and what goes around comes around. If we all share then fundraising can only be better for doing so. If you work for a charity that never engages with the rest of the sector, then you are missing out.

When at Raleigh International, I joined the corporate culture that said we put all our energy into working with our client group and our partners and had no time for the rest of the charity sector. Now I am on the other side of the fence, I realise that this attitude was wrong. Some of what we were doing (and I hear still are doing) really had the "wow factor

about it. Had we in-vested in getting that message across, we might have attracted more staff with experience of the sector and therefore bought in greater expertise.

So come and present a case study of your fundraising. You can get a session proposal form off the web site or by calling the Institute. Just jot down the idea and send it in - there is plenty of time to flesh it out later.

The second source of material for the convention is the speakers themselves.

Every year there are new faces added to the convention team. This is to ensure that we constantly access potential new areas for the material.

Past speakers are invited back on the basis of the delegates' feedback forms and new speakers are cajoled and encouraged as a result of the board's network and contacts.

So, how about it? Put in a session proposal. And while you are planning that far ahead note that the 2003 Convention will take place from 7-9 July 2003.

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