"For anyone who takes their career and their work in fundraising and communications seriously, the National Convention is the most important event of the year," said Julius Wolff-Ingham, head of marketing and fundraising at The Salvation Army. Wolff-Ingham has chaired a team of 18 charity experts to pull together this year's National Convention from 7-9 July.
The Convention is firmly established in the fundraising calendar and as such suffers from too much recognition. We have to work hard to get the message across about what is new and what is different.
Introducing new ideas and responding to feedback invariably results in the programme getting bigger and appearing more complicated. Monday is workshop day and allows delegates to pre-book one of 34 small group sessions. Most people will pick two different areas of interest for the morning and then afternoon.
There is one exception, which is the all-day session looking at setting a fundraising strategy. We are bringing Mal Warwick across from the US to run this well proven and successful session. Warwick is just one of a handful of speakers from outside the UK who we feel has got something powerful and relevant to say.
This session is for senior fundraisers but we are not getting sniffy and putting you through some form of selection process. In keeping with all the sessions earmarked this year for senior fundraisers, if you set strategy and you have a management responsibility for the overlap from fundraising into either marketing, management, communications or finance, then you will probably benefit from the senior sessions. Consultants advising strategy and senior fundraisers will also benefit.
These senior sessions are a bit longer than normal to allow interaction and further exchange of ideas in the discussion and debate periods after the formal presentations. Be prepared to contribute.
The Convention traditionally attracts a large number of people who are new to fundraising. Just under a third of delegates will be coming to the event for the first time.
If you are reading this and feel that your organisation would find it difficult to send you, then why not consider applying for a bursary? This year there are five times the number of bursaries. And if it's simply a question that the dates don't fit, have a look at the one or two-day conventions run by the Institute across the English regions, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The web site has more details, so plan ahead.