Friday, 21 June 2013

Once Upon I Wish I'd Thought of That

A couple of weeks ago the second of SOFII’s ‘I Wish I’d Thought of That’ events was held. And a number of Charity Chicks were there. So we thought we’d pull together a little blog and share it with you. 

And like reading a book, or seeing a film, there was no overall consensus of opinion - we had a multitude of different thoughts, comments and ideas.

One thing we all agreed on is that we LOVE the idea of IWITOT. It’s emotional, fun, irreverent and feels very modern. And it’s high on inspiration. And we, as fundraisers, love a bit of inspiring.

What’s really great is it has a younger and very vibrant feel about it. There’s lots of social media talk and banter before the show, and afterwards – which adds to that. To be honest, so much in our sector can sadly feel a little grey and predictable and IWITOT is a great antidote to that.

It can also be very frustrating when, conference after conference, you see the same ideas and case studies presented. What’s brilliant about IWITOT is that is has life and showcases new speakers.

And undoubtedly it reminds us of why fundraising is the best profession in the world.

This year in 2013 we saw 20 speakers give us the idea they wished they’d thought of. ‘Telling the story behind an innovative idea they felt changed the face of the  industry‘ (SOFII website).

We heard some really powerful cases for support. There were some very poignant, personal stories. Lauren Semple gave us both a great fundraising idea and her story is still with us now (and, rightly she got the most votes on the day). However a question some Chicks' asked is: was it just us or did some of the other stories feel that they had been built around a personal link rather than a great fundraising idea?

Which led us on to the next point we discussed. What happened to the fundraising in some of them? As we’ve said there was some amazingly strong storytelling given to us, but where was the ‘innovative idea they felt changed the face of the industry’? Out of 20 ideas we counted 13 that were fundraising ideas. (And don’t even mention the webcams….)

One thing we were really pleased to see was a great mix of fundraising disciplines from these 13 ideas. Last year we felt that it was too direct marketing focused. This year we had major giving circles, corporate partnerships, social media appeals, membership, online fundraising and community/challenge event fundraising. A smorgasbord of fundraising. Yum.

And while 2012 brought us the saga of the doofer, 2013 brought us the live stream. One of the most powerful elements of the afternoon is the dynamic energy and the magic of sharing some fabulous fundraising ideas in a powerful, performance based way.

And while not everyone has to be an “am-dram” dandy or a natural stand up, the inability to move from the lectern because of the live stream meant that in some cases the slots felt a little like lectures rather than inspirational stories for their innovative idea. Not only that, people that watched the live stream said it didn’t work very well. Was it worth stifling people’s presentation for a live stream that jumped and froze? 

A big chapeau to Adrian Salmon for ignoring this, and delivering a cracker of a presentation about a great fundraising idea. In the words of Sir Bruce Forsyth, you’re our favourite!

We’re delighted that IWITOT returned for a second year – and we hope to see it become firmly entrenched in the fundraising calendar. Being in a room with 300 other fundraisers is always a treat. It’s always an inspiration. And it’s always fun. (Such an aptly named profession…).

Which is why we’d love to see the timings tightened up so everyone can partake in the social drinks reception afterwards. Networking is such a vital part of what we do – learning from each other is invaluable. 

And SOFII offers a vital opportunity to do this, at a really reasonable price. So we’d all like to be able to make the most of our ‘late passes’ and have the time to do this.

Our last comment is that everyone, and we mean EVERYONE, should visit the SOFII website. Regularly. It’s an amazing resource. Jam-packed with fundraising. 

Some other blogs/stories written about this year’s IWITOT:



  1. Well it sounds like everyone had quite the hoot! One thing I would ask though, is how well resourced is SOFII? We've sent a fair few things in over the last couple of years which have largely been ignored from said jam-packed site.

    I find Third Sector's Digital Campaign of the Week is updated more often (weekly would you believe)...

  2. Hi Charity Chicks. Thank you for this constructive review of IWITOT. We really appreciate feedback on what we do so that we can continue to improve. We seem to have hit on a winning formula so we hope we can bring it back next year. Point taken that not all the presentations were fundraising ideas.

    With regard to the livestream,SOFII is committed to sharing our resources for free so it's important that we allow fundraisers without the resources to travel to London to have access to the same great content.

    In response to Keith's comment, SOFII is not well-resourced unlike Third Sector! We operate on a shoestring budget and rely heavily on volunteers. If you have fundraising content we'd be happy to consider it for publication.

    Sue Kershaw, development director, SOFII

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