Global fundraising conference braces itself for social investment innovation

Fundraisers around the world are preparing to embrace new challenges and opportunities as “traditional models of ‘giving’ are being disrupted”, says the newly appointed CEO of leading global fundraising network the Resource Alliance

Over three days the International Fundraising Congress (IFC), which is organised by the Resource Alliance, is bringing 1,000 fundraisers from 60 countries together in Amsterdam to share best practise and address the future of fundraising.

After being the interim CEO of the Resource Alliance since June 2014, is has been announced that Kyla Shawyer will now take over the position permanently. Shawyer said: “The once stark line between sectors is beginning to blur and traditional models of ‘giving’ are being disrupted by new kinds of social investment – from crowdsourcing to direct personal loans, from social enterprises to cross-sector partnerships. 

“With everything in a state of change, it will be more important than ever to build new kinds of teams and new kinds of collaborations – bringing the best ideas to the table, regardless of where they might originate, and turning them into models our sector can use to thrive.”

At the opening plenary of the 2015 IFC founder of the Charity Defense Council Dan Pallotta told delegates: “it has not yet occurred to us that we have the right to innovate”. Pallotta masterminded one of the most highly regarded fundraising efforts in the US, the AIDS Rides, which involved getting 182,000 people to participate in long-distance cycling events that raised $582m over nine years from around three million people who donated. His TED Talk on the logic behind getting charities to spend more money on their fundraising efforts in order to then generate more money to use directly in delivering the organisation’s social mission has been viewed more than 3.4 million times. 

“Sometimes innovation is as much about removing negatives as it is about new positives… The big ideas don’t usually come on demand, you can’t just schedule a meeting and say the next big idea in our organisation is going to come from this meeting,” Pallotta said. 

Echoing the comments made by Shawyer, former chair of the Resource Alliance Usha Menon emphasised the importance of entrepreneurial thinking in fundraising during the opening plenary. She said: “I have seen the landscape changing… Going forward I see daring entrepreneurs as playing a crucial role in the fundraising sector. It is no longer going to be about traditional philanthropy, it is going to be about taking entrepreneurial decisions around how you can create a social impact.”

After setting the tone of the annual gathering, the first day concluded on a celebratory note with the Global Awards for Fundraising. Taking home the award for the most innovative campaign and a clear audience favourite was Exit Deutschland. The organisation aims to reduce membership of Nazi affiliated groups in Germany by challenging their ideology and providing support to those who decide to leave these groups. Watch here to see how the team turned a pro-Nazi march into a huge fundraising opportunity. 

Other winners of the night included the International Transformation Foundation, which won the Big Impact Small Budget Award for its Join the Pipe project, and Marion Carroll from Ronald McDonald House Charities, who won Volunteer of the Year.

Over the next two days the IFC will address issues such as how corporates are increasingly using emotional social impact storytelling techniques to increase brand trust and will look at what the nonprofit sector can learn from political campaign methods. 

Photo credit: Joe Madden