The IoF is heading to the party conferences
It was a blustery September day by the seaside in Bournemouth when I attended my first ever political party conference in 2008. Gordon Brown was Prime Minister and the question on everyone’s lips was ‘will he or won’t he call a snap election later that year’…
Eight conference seasons later and a lot has changed in British politics. In fact, a lot has changed outside politics too. But one constant remains: there is nothing like the annual political gatherings in cities and seaside towns across the country for holding meetings, events, witnessing announcements and getting a real sense of the big political issues exercising those in power and those aspiring to be in power.
This year, with the continued party political interest in fundraising and the charity sector, we will be attending the Labour and Conservative party conferences in Liverpool and Birmingham respectively. This is an opportunity to ensure that fundraisers have a voice and presence at the discussions and debates taking place. As part of this we are hosting a joint event with other charity sector organisations – NCVO, CAF, and CFG - to look at the role of charities in building a better Britain, and what additional support is needed to help the sector do this.
As the IoF, we will be making the case for the vital role that fundraising plays in connecting the public with the causes they support, the importance of fundraisers’ work for the causes that matter to people, and the policies needed to make it easier for charities to raise money. We will also be attending various fringe events around the main conference centre to highlight the importance of fundraising to conference attendees, and holding a series of one to one meetings with politicians and other key influencers. This all builds on our ongoing efforts to engage MPs across the political spectrum in the work of our members and the issues affecting fundraising and giving to charities.
But the flow of information and engagement is not all one way! Party Conferences are an excellent opportunity to understand what politicians are thinking, what they are planning and hoping to achieve, and what their party members are pressing for them to do. And this year is particularly important because both of the major parties will be setting out details of their agenda and plans for the first time.
For the Labour Party, the results of the party’s leadership contest will be announced on the Saturday of party conference week. This means that the speeches and debates from the floor of the conference hall will be crucial in spelling out ‘where next’ for the party.
For the Conservative Party, Teresa May has swept into No.10 without the usual raft policy proposals and cross-examination of these that come with a leadership contest or General Election. This year’s conference will be the first time that we really have a sense of the direction of travel that the new Prime Minister wants to take the country, and the role that the PM and her ministers see the charity sector and fundraisers playing within that. We will be there listening to the announcements, taking in the tone of discussions, and hearing the debates to understand what the future looks like from the government’s perspective for charity fundraisers, and the charity sector as a whole.
So this is what the IoF will be up to and why political geeks like me are smacking our lips in anticipation of this year’s party conferences. If you want to follow the action, I will be tweeting from @iofMike.
Mike Smith, Head of External Affairs, Institute of Fundraising
The Labour Party annual conference took place Sunday 25th - Wednesday 28th September 2016
The Conservative Party annual conference took place Sunday 2nd - Wednesday 5th October 2016