Translating the energy of a conference into practical learning and action which is woven into your working life can be hard to achieve and this is even more of a challenge in 2020. Two TEF mentees have been determined to apply their learning from attending the 2020 Institute of Fundraising Convention and in our latest pair of blogs, Louisa Johnson and Tess Thompson give us key highlights and a thought provoking digest of how they are turning the inspiring sessions into direction and action in their fundraising roles.
In this blog, Tess pin-ponts three themes which are influencing her working relationships and approach to decision making and the difference these are making….
If like me, you have spent the majority of the past five months on Zoom, a three-day online conference was a little daunting! Conferences are often exhausting, learning hard to put into practice and the afternoon sessions a challenge but the online format was a breath of fresh air despite my Zoom related reservations!
Two months on, I am still reflecting and reading some suggested books and have selected my key takeaways that I am putting into practice.
Everyone is a fundraiser
There can’t be a more important moment to ensure that everyone is included in fundraising than now. With the need for charities to grasp every opportunity for support, we as fundraisers need to improve how we include everyone in our organisations in fundraising.
- Beneficiaries, their families, and friends are often key supporters for charities, but it isn’t often that fundraisers meet them, rather the front-line staff. We need to emphasise how vital the relationships our colleagues have with beneficiaries are to fundraising and awareness raising. People don’t need to make an ask or hold a bucket; it is their connection to people that leaves a lasting impression.
- Not all support can be measured by monetary value. We need to recognise all roles and contributions and thank colleagues for being involved whatever this looks like .
- Fundraisers often forget how daunting it can be to speak to a group of people about our work. We need to ensure that our colleagues have the tools, skills and resources to be involved.
- Fundraising is often seen as simply bucket collections and sponsored runs. We know it is more than this so look to include non-fundraising staff in team meetings, tell them what we are working on and what we need help with.
- Every day we write and speak about the challenges our organisation faces but do our colleagues know? Be open about what the organisation can do with the money we have raised and what wouldn’t be possible.
If like me, you have had to completely change the way you do your job almost overnight you’ll be please to hear that agility was a top attribute for a successful fundraiser! Sitting alongside this however is the ‘and disease’, the inability to say no and always saying ‘yes and we could….’ Now more than ever, fundraisers need to be self-aware, aware of their limits and not always taking on new tasks. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t of course, as often the best opportunities are the ones that spring from something else. But with the ongoing and ever-increasing pressure to find new sources of income when old ones have disappeared overnight, having the confidence to say no when it doesn’t fit with your purpose or plan is vital.
To share or not to share
We often hear that empathy and being human is vital as a leader, but does that mean we can show everything we feel to our teammates and colleagues, the good and the bad? Too often we are quick to make a snap comment or to swallow our words but vulnerability and emotion in a workplace is isn’t bad. What is, is the way it is presented.
Emotion is needed for meaningful connections we just need to focus on how we deliver our feelings so that they have a positive result. When deciding whether to share your feelings with a colleague keep these questions in mind:
- Will it break or build trust?
- Will it show I am human?
- Will it make others feel safe or uncertain?
- What signal will it give?
When you are next frustrated during a team meeting, elated at success or feeling overwhelmed by a situation, think these questions through to gauge how to express what you mean. In the words of Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy in their book ‘No hard feelings’, it will “help you figure out which emotions to toss, which to keep to yourself and which to express in order to be both happier and more effective.” (This book was recommended by the speaker and I would also recommend!).
Many thanks to the Foundation for the opportunity to join the conference. In our new virtual world, holding the IOF conference online was an inevitability but could this be the future?
A bit more about Tess….
Tess has over 10 years experience in the charity sector and has found her niche in fundraising. Taking a creative and people focused approach to her role as Community Fundraising Manager at Support Dogs, an assistance dog charity, Tess is constantly inspired by the passion of the charities fundraisers and driven by the desire to ensure the sustainability of the charities work.
Look on our blog page to see the previous blog from Louisa.
Louisa and Tess are both mentees on the Tony Elischer Foundation mentoring programme. Alongside working with an amazing mentor for twelve months, participants have access to wider development opportunities which nurture their leadership skills. Applications are open for our autumn 2020 cohort. Apply via our website by 19th October.