We’ve all been to those huge conferences where you walk into a room and anxiously look for at least one face you already know, before making a beeline for the coffee and biscuits. I have to admit, it is one of my pet hates – attending a 6pm session in a stuffy room trying to concentrate on new innovations in direct mail when all I want to do is crawl under the hotel’s itchy duvet and not talk to anyone for a few hours.
Having said that, conferences and networking can be one of the most helpful things you can do with your time. Fundraisers, I’ve found, are on the whole a very cheerful bunch. And they love talking about what they do. Hey, it’s partly why we do it, right?!
As overwhelming and intense large conferences can be, sometimes the chance to just sit down with a small group of folks who do a similar role to yours can be hugely insightful.
That’s certainly how I felt yesterday, when I welcomed Regular Giving professionals from other Scottish universities to my very own campus’ library. We sat down and had a good ol’ chat about many things that are affecting our work right now; TPS and GDPR (*collective groan*); what does being donor centric actually mean for RG fundraisers; what do we measure in our KPIs, what should we be measuring and more interestingly, what do we measure that we just don’t think is actually useful? (I’m looking at you, overall alumni participation rates.)
In short, it was a lot of fun, a lot of good ideas were exchanged, we laughed and sighed as a group at the familiar frustrations of direct marketing, we all agreed to get together again in a few months’ time, then we had burgers for lunch.
Large, impressive conferences with many highly informed, very engaging speakers are valuable in a fundraiser’s professional development, that’s in no doubt. But sometimes you can get just as much, if not more, out of an informal gathering of fundraisers who just love what they do, and do it incredibly well.
Thanks to all who came along yesterday – see you soon!