Celebrating fundraisers ‘together’

Wednesday, April 15th, 2020

It’s that time of year when I Wish I’d Thought Of That (IWITOT) returns, to celebrate fundraising excellence and to pitch speakers against each other to present their views on the best fundraising campaigns. IWITOT celebrates all the great stuff out there that our colleagues have done, and supports the sector in continuing to grow and develop – both with ideas and with the much-needed funds it brings in.

And this year we decided to take it virtual, which, as it turns out, was the right decision! We were already excited to try this event on an online platform, as we knew it would bring together a global audience, giving even more perspectives in one ‘room’ and spreading the learnings of the sector much wider. It is the way forward. 

With the new coronavirus restrictions in place, coming together online is now even more important. We need these stories of great fundraising more than ever, and time to celebrate and take stock of the amazing work the sector does. And we can draw inspiration, give ourselves some relief and joy, and remind us all why we work in fundraising. It will also allow us all to feel connected and part of a huge community when we are siloed at home. 

Plus, virtual events in this format stops you being restricted by specific timings – if you’re a bit late, just join when you’re ready and no one will be turning round to see the late comers enter! Or, if something comes up and you can’t attend that day, you will receive a recording to watch back later. Of course, it’s not quite the same as being there in the moment, but it’s a good second option. 

Our hope for the virtual IWITOT remains the same as when we first set out to do it – to bring together fundraisers from across the world to celebrate success and support the sector, and probably to have a few laughs along the way!

IWITOT is taking place on Tuesday 21 April. Join us and a host of fundraisers from across the globe – get your ticket now! 


The right to play

Friday, April 3rd, 2020
Three weeks ago we were at Unicef. It was a day after Open had trialled working from home. It seems like a year ago. We talked about whether schools would close and whether there would be a lockdown. What this would mean for children?
 
We talked about what life would be like in ‘lockdown’ Britain and what Unicef could do to help children and their families. 
 
Over the next couple of days our teams talked and came up with some great ideas. Many of them were linked to offering free screen time content, because that is what we thought would be needed…
 
At this time a very good decision was made. WaitDon’t React. Respond.
 
Then the UK went into lockdown and life changed for us all. 
 
Attention turned to our families, neighbours and friends. Those close to us who need our care and support, those who we have never met ‘locked in’ – frightened and alone, and those who are putting their lives at risk everyday keeping the NHS, emergency services and our infrastructure going.
 
At Open we got busy developing emergency appeals for charities and the NHS whose frontline services were struggling to keep up with demand, and Unicef moved swiftly into their rapid response protocols. 
 
Meanwhile a very small team of Unicef and Open staff continued to think about an offer for young children and their families. Unicef sent out a short survey asking parents about their first few days of lockdown.  
 
And this is what they told us. 
 
“We don’t need more screen content. We certainly don’t need more educational resources and activities. We don’t all have screens, we don’t all have bandwidth that can handle everyone on line. We need ideas that kids can do away from screens, that are fun and quick to organise. That gives them time to relax and play and us time to get on with life and work.” 
 
And Unicef responded.
 
“Don’t worry, this is on us. Everyday, all round the world we help children in crisis, often without screens or internet. This is what we do. We make sure that children have the space, the resources and the right to play. We have great activities that we will send to you. We are here for children in crisis”.
 
 
Yesterday they were joined by friends at The Kite Factory to do a very rapid sprint that brought that idea to life. And today it goes live.
 
Not bad for a couple of weeks in lockdown…. 

When the dust settles

Thursday, March 26th, 2020

My spirits have been lifted as I’ve watched the outpouring of advice, information and support on how to fundraise during these unprecedented times. We are all going to learn a lot about how to adapt and continue to do good in these times. 

This isn’t a blog with more advice though, this is a blog about what happens when the dust settles on this crisis and we hopefully all emerge safe and well on the other side. So much that we did last week or the week before suddenly feels distant, unimportant or even irrelevant. 

This applies particularly to planning work I’ve been doing around Open’s partnership with Allan Freeman, Charity Benchmarks

We created Charity Benchmarks to give fundraisers the information they need to make better decisions and, in doing so, raise more money and maximise the impact of the cause they fundraise for. Only two years in and we’ve been overwhelmed by the positive feedback and fascinating debate that it has caused. 

For the last few months we’ve been busy planning this year’s study, as well as welcoming new participants. However, in the last couple of weeks, we’ve had a lot of conversations about how to move forward in these uncertain times. 

At times we wobbled, but we concluded that we must push on with Benchmarks. 

Given the inevitable and already reported hit to everyone’s fundraising, it strikes me that having an understanding of your fundraising programme in relation to those of other charities will be vitally important when planning, reporting on performance and making sense of what is happening. 

Charity Benchmarks is unique in that it combines detailed analysis of the hard data behind your fundraising, but also incorporates perspectives on current and future performance through surveys and qualitative interviews with fundraising leaders. This means that you can benchmark and plan against not only performance, but reflect levels of optimism and focus for the future.So whilst it doesn’t feel important today, it will certainly be relevant as we return to our offices and another ’new normal’ sets in and we have to make sense of it all. 

That all said, we have certainly seen a slow down in new charities signing up in the last couple of weeks. To be pragmatic, we are extending the deadline for joining Charity Benchmarks until the end of April. We do this as hope it means it will give teams time to adapt to all the change, but then begin to consider what the world looks like in a few months time. 

If you’d like more information about Charity Benchmarks then please drop me an email. I can share a sample report to give you a flavour of what your charity would receive for participating. 

 

Mark

Strategic Partnerships Director