News and opinions

A forward-looking Convention with plenty of food for thought


It’s been yet another great Fundraising Convention from the Institute of Fundraising – one full of inspiring and uplifting experiences, and positivity.

While there is always a real buzz around this annual event, the enthusiasm and motivational spirit seemed even greater this year with a real sense of the sector looking to the future following 2018’s challenges of implementing GDPR.

While we are moving forward, that doesn’t mean we can take our eye off the ball of course, and there will still be plenty of challenges and changes to grapple with over the coming months. 2018 was really just the beginning of GDPR as the regulation, as well as our compliance with it, and this will need to be continually reviewed. There are also still challenges to come as we wait for greater clarity on certain areas, such as profiling.

Convention though included lots of interesting sessions that provided much food for thought and inspiration for the future.

One session I particularly liked was Fundraising from the Next Generation – the Future of Philanthropy, which saw millennials talk about how they were fundraising not just to their peer group, but also how they were helping charities meet their challenges. It really felt like we were listening to future leaders of the fundraising world.

A second was looking at what charities are doing now to shake things up. Ones to Watch: Exciting, New Trends for 2019/20 That We Need to Know Now looked at how London Marathon Events are working to reduce both their use of plastic and their carbon footprint. Cats Protection also shared how in the US they are raising millions of dollars through gaming, while Canal and River Trust told us how they were using their assets to help the lives of those most disaffected.

Let’s not forget the importance of data though. As a data specialist I’m a fan of any data analysis, especially when it gives us trends and insights that enable us to improve what we do.  Two of the research reports published at Convention and well worth reading are Rapidata’s latest Charity Direct Debit Tracking Report, which provides Direct Debit benchmarking evidenced with transactional data from some 600 charities, and a robust survey of fundraisers from Blackbaud and the IoF that questioned over 1,000 charity sector professionals to uncover the status of fundraising in the UK.

Both reports bolster our view of the current fundraising landscape and will be valuable additions to our fundraising strategy toolboxes moving forwards.

There’s more information on these reports as well as on some of the other news and publications from the past few days over on the Institute of Fundraising’s website, so that’s also well worth a visit!

Suzanne Lewis is founding director of Arc Data and can be reached on


Stuart Townsend