Live from IFC!

Published by Sarah Clifton on


This year a number of 101fundraising crowdbloggers are in attendance at IFC, and at this hour we are precisely halfway through the conference. Some of us have given workshops and the rest of us have followed them. We’ve laughed at the good humor of some of the excellent presenters, cried at moving examples of the best DRTV spots from around the world (the award for the best spot went to Action Against Hunger for The Share Experiment), shared a few drinks, and mostly just enjoyed the rare chance to take a break from the “to do” list and share inspiration and ideas with some of the best in our business from around the world.

But of course not all of our 101 readers are fortunate enough to attend, so this year – in addition to the pre- and post-conference speaker and attendee blogs that we are posting as the blogging partner of IFC – we would also like to share some write ups of the sessions crowdbloggers have attended (or given) live from the field. Here goes:

Session name:  Does innovation and ingenuity ensure survival in Major Gifts fundraising?
Presenter: Kim van Niekerk

In this 1,5 hour crystal clear and fun session, Kim van Niekerk (who told us she became fundraiser by accident), inspired us to ask our self the question ‘Why?’ over and over again about our organization, our major donors and our strategy. This would lead us to innovation in major gift fundraising. This is how it works: you write down your worries (I wrote down: ‘We don’t make the case’). Start to ask yourself the question ‘Why?’ to see what really is going wrong (for example ‘My organisation/ colleagues may not agree with the case/ they want another case’). Commit to higher standards and find evidence for your worry. Then turn your worry around and put it upside down and see what the consequence will be for your organisation (‘Do we need a case to raise major gifts?’). Find a solution and see what this will mean for your organisation (With more than one case for support and several named funds my colleagues can make a case!’).

Elsbeth Takkenberg
101fundraising blogger | Fundraiser for cancer research, VUmc Cancer Center Amsterdam


Session name: Driving with your eyes closed is never a good idea!
Bob Francis, Marcus Missen

This session outlined the need to gain insight if you want to make the most of your programmes. Through a series of case studies, discussion and examples, Marcus and Bob made a great case. Top tips from the session are for me: think segment, strategy, data analysis, listen (really listen!) and observe. Your insight gained from the above give you ideas. Data will tell you if you got it right! Three words of wisdom:  keep it relevant, keep it resonant, keep it real! Bob and Marcus’ session was very interesting and a lot of fun.

Lindsay Sievewright
Innovation Fundraising Consultant, HJC


Session name: A fundraiser’s guide to developing effective relationships
Presenters: Colin Jones, Helena Sharpstone

This insightful session highlighted people’s differences and how some strengths can be perceived as weaknesses or drawbacks by others. The Insights model (based on the work of Carl Jung) uses red, blue, green, and yellow colour coding to make sense of the highly developed aspects of personality (and perhaps the less-developed aspects), which can show you how you can adapt your style when dealing with colleagues or donors. A key take away is this adaptation isn’t purely altruistic to make others happier around you, but that it can truly help you achieve the results you want, as well as easing the pain of people problems in the workplace (reportedly a cause of 87% of problems at work). I acknowledged my own stress triggers and came to better appreciate what might really rub others that are different from me the wrong way. If you want to learn more about this, there are free worksheets on the Insights model and dealing with difficult colleagues at Sharpstone Skinner’s website – www.sharpstoneskinner.co.uk.

Alison McCants
101fundraising blogger | Direct Marketing Manager at the Brooke | Trustee of NECT UK


Session name: Product portfolio analysis – choosing and using the right tools to make objective strategic decisions
Presenters: Catherine Cottrell, Mark Cook

This session was all about tools and not really so much about products. I came away with a list of good ideas to use in market positioning, but I don’t really feel like I know more about fundraising “products” than I did before the session. However, I did leave with a list of ideas to help my organisation analyse our competition, our marketplace, and find the best potential new donors: Income mapping, territory mapping, and a gap analysis. Not exactly what I was expecting, but good for brushing up on marketing without having to dust off the old textbooks.

Sarah Clifton
101fundraising blogger


Session name: Establishing an integrated monthly giving programme in emerging fundraising markets – UNICEF Malaysia, a case study
Presenters: Bow Bow Choon, Rich Fox

There is obviously a hunger for content on tackling fundraising in emerging markets, as this session was packed! We know monthly giving is lucrative so in an emerging market offering a combination of one time gifts and monthly gifts can be very effective.

Best takeaway: Finding vendors can be very hard. In Malaysia, WWF and UNICEF worked with commercial vendors used to selling products and trained them to “sell” monthly gifts.

New learning: In India they do something called Telefacing. A prospect is called and a face to face meeting is set up asking for a monthly gift. UNICEF saw great results from this.

Sheetal Persaud
Fundraising Innovation Consultant, HJC


Session name: Due Diligence: how to avoid getting involved with the wrong major donor
Presenter: Chris Carnie

Of course I read Chris Carnie’s blog on due diligence beforehand. But in the rollercoaster one hour session, his list of what to check before starting seriously cultivating a potential major donor became even longer. He had a prize of chocolates that were won by attendees that came up with this additional information for research on individuals: ‘Check the history of the family, to see if his grandfather was a bad guy!’, ‘Check if the donors motivations fit our organization’, ‘Does our organization want to talk to journalists about this gift, or rather not?’. Even more chocolates for additional research on companies:’ Check the turnover of the staff’, ‘Are there any campaigns against this company?’, ‘What are the board members doing in their spare time?’, ‘Is the CEO visible?’. We ended this great session with a list of websites and tools for researching our major donor(prospect)s, and the advise to do a check-up on your major donors every month to see if there is buzz in the media or something else the organisation should know about.

Elsbeth Takkenberg
101fundraising blogger | Fundraiser for cancer research, VUmc Cancer Center Amsterdam


Session name: Why do people stop giving?
Presenters: Louise Brockbank, Martin Paul

We all know how important retention is – the impact on even small improvements on the long term ROI, the value of relationship fundraising over a transactional model, and the rising cost and challenges of acquiring new donors in an ever-growing marketplace. As Martin Paul said, “the answer to how is why”. To know how to go about improving retention, we have to know why people are leaving. Interestingly, his research with five Australian charities showed that how donors described the importance of the cause was a better indicator of retention that their beliefs/satisfaction/trust of the charity or their intentions for engaging with the cause in more ways. If your charity (like mine) looks at satisfaction surveys and multiple touchpoints as good indicators of engagement and retention, you might find it useful to look at how important your donors think your work is in the scheme of things. Is it part of their core values as a human being? Are you part of how they define their identity? Would they wear your tee-shirt to a barbeque? It may seem obvious that donor values are key to long-term relationships, but are we perhaps focusing efforts on satisfaction and increasing touchpoints instead? Food for thought.

Alison McCants
101fundraising blogger | Direct Marketing Manager at the Brooke | Trustee of NECT UK


Session name: Finding and keeping new investors
Presenters: Kyla Shawyer, Bill Toliver

Replace “investors” with “stakeholders” and you will get a sense of what this session is about. Actually, it was about two different things: Bill Toliver shared a frameworking for looking at how all stakeholders (donors, staff, vendors, volunteers, etc.) move through different states of mind in their engagement with an organisation, and how we need to look at how each of our touch-points moves them to the next stage. This is value-based rather than transactional approach to engagement. Great stuff! And Bill is also a fantastic speaker. I was kicking myself for missing his plenary.

Kyla was also a good presenter but I felt like I was suddenly in a different workshop. She shared examples about how Operation Smile has engaged each of their stakeholders in very unique and creative ways. Inspiring and though-provoking, but I really wanted to hear more about the seven states of mind on the way to engagement. (Want to know what they are? Shoot me an email. Or better yet: Bill, would you like to blog about it?)

Sarah Clifton
101fundraising blogger


Session name: F2F – the digital revolution
Presenter: David Cravinho

David discussed UNICEFs experience in making their F2F program digital. He has found that arming fundraisers with an ipad so that donors can submit donations right on the device, has greatly increased results. The digital dimension decreases fufillment time for donations, allows instant data and card validation, allows immediate follow up with donors and many more benefits. In a test in New Zealand he also found that facer productivity went up meaning more sign ups per hour when using a digital device. His key taleaways are tp choose the right technology, keep it simple and test test test.

Sheetal Persaud
Fundraising Innovation Consultant, HJC


IFC has been for those of us present about celebrating the important work we do as fundraisers to really help change the world, and to challenge ourselves to be even better – because the people, animals, communities and natural world we serve needs nothing less than our very best. So whatever our individual take-aways, let’s do our best as a sector to put our new ideas and renewed energy to use, and keep up the momentum that we have generated together here at IFC.


This year 101fundraising is the official blog partner of the International Fundraising Congress (IFC), the world’s leading conference on fundraising. This blog post is part of a special IFC Blog Series, where we give IFC speakers a chance to share their wisdom before the conference. Attending crowdbloggers will get a chance to share their views after the conference!

Participating IFC speakers are Bernard Ross, Derek Humphries, Chris Carnie, David Cravinho, Maia Kahlke-Mikkelsen and Lucy Gower!

Sarah Clifton

Sarah is a Dutch / American fundraiser who has worked for animal protection and human rights organizations for more than 15 years. Since 2015, she heads up the Fundraising department at Save the Children Netherlands. She also (tries to) write occasionally and connect with other fundraisers frequently (especially over a beer).


david heyer · October 19, 2012 at 15:31

great update! thanks 101!

Mark Cook · October 22, 2012 at 11:40

Hi Sarah – thanks for coming to our session on portfolio analysis. Really glad you came away with a list of good ideas to explore and perhaps put into practice, that was the plan.

Exploring what a fundraiser’s ‘products’ are or should be is a big question, one deserving of a session in itself. There’s a lot of interesting debate to be had here. For me, the key to start answering that question is to think from a supporter’s perspective (rarely done). Might suggest it to IFC!

Happy to continue this discussion with you – just give me a shout if you want to chat.

Best, Mark

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