Sunday, 10 February 2013

Question Authority...

Lots of noise in our sector this week about a conference where a lot of men and one woman will talk about all that is wrong in the sector and how their combined experience can help us get through it. Brilliant, I’m always one for reaching out to those with experience to help plot a path through stormy waters.

But, all this noise got me thinking about who influences and inspires me on a daily basis. And I realised that the guru count is quite low in this list. Sure there are people who were senior figures in the sector when I first started out who I admire and respect. But the more I think about it the more I know I take my inspiration and influence from a much younger generation of fundraisers.

I want to surround myself with people who are fundraising successfully in the worst economic climate for decades. Those who are full of strategic and tactical ideas about what we need to do now. The people who are committed and passionate about their careers and the sector. The people who are congregating in pubs and cafes after the working day is over to meet, talk and share ideas about how we can adapt the classic fundraising theories, make them relevant for a digital age and create new theories to be tested and perfected as the world changes around us.

If the world is changing rapidly, then so is our sector. The huge and revolutionary change in how we communicate socially and for business, and the blurring between the two, means that traditional structures are being broken down. Anyone who has an opinion can share it in seconds via blogs and Twitter. We are all nodes in a rapidly growing and hugely inspiring information and idea sharing network and I love it.

Conferences have a role to play in all of this – but the best place to be is in that pub or cafe with people who want to keep on talking, but more importantly are just as happy to listen.

I was going to write a list of all the people I’m thinking about, but thought better of it as it’s a bit naff. But chances are if you’re reading this, you’re one of them.



  1. I agree - as Joe Saxton commented “It makes me nervous when people who aren’t fundraisers tell people who are fundraisers how much more they could raise if only they did their job properly" - although it is sometimes beneficial to talk to the experienced and wise to get guidance.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment Wendy. You hit on one of the points I was really trying to make. I'm not bashing gurus, I know how much I've learnt from conference heavy weights. But I also want to hear more from people who are doing well right now.

  2. I agree and disagree. When I started out in fundraising a few years ago, I didn't know many other fundraisers and wasn't really sure if this was the career for me. I hadn't been in the sector long enough to have a big group of peers I could call on for advice and support. I was then lucky enough to attend a workshop led by ken Burnett and Alan Clayton and what I learnt from them that weekend has informed my fundraising ever since. Their passion and insight inspired me to aspire be a brilliant fundraiser and made me realise that this was the world I wanted to work in. If either of them didn't have the background and experience in 'real fundraising' to back it up, I'm fairly certain it wouldn't have had the same impact. In fact, in Alan's case, I know from first hand experience that he is still very much a practising fundraiser as chair of our national appeal board and has helped us raise hundreds of thousands of pounds. And is constantly encouraging me to be the best fundraiser I can be.

    At the same time, since that workshop I have also been lucky enough to meet some amazing fundraisers and build a network of fundraisers with whom I have brilliant debates and from whom I learn every single day. Ken, Alan and Giles amongst them. But when I first started out, I didn't have that, and it was the key note speakers and 'gurus' who spoke at conferences or workshops that I went to who helped get me on the path I am on now. (Also, as a side note, I don't think I have ever heard Alan,Ken or Giles ever refer to themselves as gurus!!)

    1. Thanks for commenting, hope you don't think my post wasn't written to question the CV of any individual. It wasn't. It was more to articulate where I find my inspiration now in 2013 and my opinion and realisation that the traditional conference circuit is not where it is for me.