9 ways to get the most out of Fundraising Convention
Next week sees the biggest annual gathering of UK fundraisers at the Barbican Centre in London. Fundraising Convention brings three days of learning, networking and inspiration to 2,500 individuals, who in turn will share their experiences with colleagues back at base. It’s a fabulous experience and one which I look forward to every year.
I have attended Fundraising Convention a number of times, and over the years I've compiled some top tips on how to make the very best of your time at Convention.
1. Plan your day. There are so many great sessions to choose from but it’s important to be clear on what you want to hear about. You might want to perfect your skills in the type of fundraising you are working in, or you might want to find out about another fundraising discipline or experience some big picture thinking. Whatever it is, make sure you read the programme and the session descriptions carefully and make a plan right at the start of the day on what you are going to do. And, the Fundraising Convention app can help you do just that!
2. Plan your route. Conference venues are big places and the Barbican is no exception. Make sure you know how to get to the room where your chosen sessions are taking place and leave plenty of time to get there. The lifts at the Barbican can be pretty limiting, so take the stairs and get some exercise in while en route. And remember to wear comfortable shoes!
3. Keep an open mind. There is always something to learn from a session. Even if you find yourself familiar with the content, you will gain a lot from hearing new perspectives. You can even think about the style of the presenter or if there is anything you like about their slides or other visual aids.
4. Go to the plenary sessions. The aim of these is to inspire you and make you feel like you can conquer the world! They are always powerful and promise to make you feel amazing about the work you do and motivated keep persevering.
5. Visit the exhibitors. Take the time to walk around the exhibition area and chat to the exhibitors. Stop by and see what’s on offer – it’s much quicker than trawling online for that badge supplier or fulfilment company.
6. Talk to other delegates. It really is a wasted opportunity if you spend the entire time talking to the colleagues you’ve come with. So ask the person you are sitting next to at the start of a session where they work and what they have enjoyed so far. And don’t forget to invite them to connect via LinkedIn or Twitter.
7. Check out the lunchtime sessions. These are offered to add value to your time at Convention. They are usually more informal in style and offer a chance to really engage with the presenter. The topics don’t fit neatly into the main tracks, so these sessions are often quirky and niche. Don’t overlook them – you could miss out on a real treat.
8. Be present. When I first started attending Convention, it really was a time to forget the email and priorities of the working day. No smartphones and no WiFi meant you could focus on some personal development and reflect on what you were hearing without distraction. Those days are long gone, but I would still strongly encourage delegates to stay away from their inboxes and be present at Convention.
9. Take the learning away and share it. It’s a big investment for your organisation to send you to Convention, so make this valuable for your wider team as well as yourself. Why not set up a session a couple of weeks after Convention to share the the learnings you most enjoyed and the top tips you learnt with your colleagues?
Michelle Chambers, Managing Director at THINK Consulting Solutions
You can meet Michelle and the THINK team at Fundraising Convention next week. Find them in the exhibition area to discuss how they can work with your charity.