Four Things from #IFC2015 That Will Help You be a Better Fundraiser

The Resource Alliance’s International Fundraising Congress is hands down the best investment a fundraiser can make in their career and themselves. Every year, some of the best minds in fundraising gather in Noordwijk to elevate the sector. I had the privilege of attending this year and I came away with my mind filled with ideas, my heart filled with emotion, my soul filled with inspiration and my passion for fundraising re-ignited.

Here were my top takeaways from #IFC2015

Donors are PEOPLE not numbers

We need to value our donors. We need to resect that they are human beings with passions and values. We need to change our communications to put those people at the core of everything we do. Not just because this sounds like a lovely thing to do, but because as research has shown – it increases the lifetime value of donors.  This was a theme that emerged in several sessions, and it’s easy to understand why with the climate in the UK.

It’s easy to lose sight of the human beings behind the data with fast approaching deadlines and high targets to reach. But the charities that have real sustainable success are the ones that remember to see past the money and think strategically about the people who are their donors.

So, how do we do this?

  • Charlie Hulme urged us to get to know our donors, and segment them based on why they give – and what value the charity offers them.
  • Beate Sorum shared ways to put the donor experience at the heart of your online giving page. Her slide deck with practical tips on how to do this can be found here.
  • A number of speakers shared how the lifetime value of a donor goes up when they are encouraged to complain – even if you don’t address the complaint!
  • Richard Radcliff stated the importance of not using high-pressure sales tactics for planned giving.

The Importance of Mobile

How are you reading this blog? Which device did you last use to check your e-mail or Facebook? If you are like most of the world, the answer is likely your mobile device. Mobile devices are the primary device most people use to view online content. And yet as a sector we still think desktop first, mobile second. To truly be successful in a mobile driven world, you need to build your websites, e-mails, landing pages with mobile in mind.


In Dan Pallotta’s opening keynote we were challenged to recognize that the For-Impact sector has as much right to innovation  as the commercial world. He challenged us to hire trouble makers and disrupters. To think big and be bold.

Yet, in the charitable sector there are barriers to diversity.

  • A lack of diversity in our leadership and boards holds us back.
  • Our boards want to maximize ROI, but that is only telling a part of the story.
  • Our own internal systems and bureaucracies are risk averse. The need for concrete proof that an idea will be successful makes innovation impossible.
  • The culture of charities does not allow for failure and vulnerability. False politeness is often favoured over having real and challenging conversations.

Fundraising is a vocation, not a day job

The final thing that stuck with me from many sessions and conversations was this – we, fundraisers, are more than number crunchers. We are world-changers. Cage-rattlers. We care. We cry. We rage. We’re invested. That spark that first drew you to this sector – keep it with you always.

Want to see more quotes and wisdom from #IFC2015? Check them out here.

Were you at #IFC2015? Share your top take-aways below!


Related Articles


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *