The Institute of Fundraising Conference 2019 took place in London earlier this month (4-5th February). Our very own COO Ed Gairdner took to the stage on day one, providing his insights into the importance of embracing digital and the advantages of taking a collaborative approach to fundraising. His presentation ‘From documents to digital – can the pain be taken out of fundraising?’ focused on the importance of charities being proactive, agile and taking full advantage of digital as the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ in order to improve processes and encourage further charitable giving. He argued that the third and commercial sectors are moving further apart when it comes to harnessing the power of technology, which is inevitably holding many back from realising their full fundraising potential, both individually and as a collective. Indeed, he pointed out that true collaboration is about sharing information with people you don’t necessarily know but who you share interests with.
The second day of the event explored a range of key issues funders face in today’s charitable landscape. Among them was Paul Streets, CEO Lloyds Bank Foundation, who highlighted that in the last two decades, poverty and homelessness have increased as local government expenditure has been squeezed, with a widening gap in available funding. He continued by pointing out that due to the depleting funds, and with Trusts unable to bridge the gap alone, the sector must be more innovative and tap more deeply into the millennial culture of giving.
Streets’ presentation was followed by a panel discussion headed by Carol Mack, Chief Executive of the ACF, and featured Helen Cooper from the Arts Council, Rob Bell from The Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts and Adam Lopardo from Community Foundation, on the reality of collaboration within the sector. The debate offered a holistic view of why funders need to collaborate better if they want to simplify and streamline the application process. One of the issues covered by the panel was the need for improvement of the applicant-funder relationship. At The Good Exchange, we wholeheartedly agree with Mr Bell who stated that funders must enable a better quality of reporting for smaller charities if they want to achieve more effective dialogue.
The two-day conference gave us an opportunity to participate in many insightful discussions and left delegates with much to reflect on. There is no doubt that a more strategic approach to collaboration can significantly improve project outcomes, for instance, improving the chances of smaller organisations providing help to local communities, which are continuing to feel the effects of years of austerity. Ultimately, the charitable sector needs to work together, and harnessing the unifying power of technology is a crucial part of this. We have reached a turning point where funders must take the initiative and adopt technologies that will enable them to collaborate to tackle the most pressing issues facing our society today.