Partnerships: Collaboration, corporate intelligence, maximising suppliers and more

: Damian Chapman

Damian Chapman looks at three tips of his favourite sessions at this year's Fundraising Convention, three tips for making the most of your time there, and three reasons why you should book now!

I love Fundraising Convention. The sessions delivered by people who've walked in my shoes –past, present, and future; the exhibitors – bringing me services and products designed to help me raise more money; the volunteers – giving their time to help delegates navigate the Barbican; and the delegates – my fundraising peers and colleagues I get to meet up with and share ideas. 

mention this because this is my fifth Fundraising Convention. I've been a volunteer, a delegate, a speaker, and I am now on the Fundraising Convention Board helping to shape the content for 2019 for the partnerships track. And I'm very pleased with what we have for you this year. As well as attending myself this year, I'm bringing four of my team along as delegates.

Fundraising Convention 2019 has sessions on outstanding partnerships, pitching for success, collaborating with partners, new ways of working, and we're even debating the future of corporate fundraising.

There are three sessions I'm particularly looking forward to: 

  • #proudland – Whizzkidz, Tommy's, and Make-a-wish UK are delivering a brand new way of approaching partnership with Poundland to deliver results. This collaborative approach is becoming more common, and it will be good to learn about how they did this, especially with Poundland in the room sharing their experience as the corporate partner. 
  • Do boards actually work? – With more and more partnerships going 'strategic', one of the ways to unlock new partnerships has been to establish development boards. But do they actually work? We've got three speakers from the trenches who have succeeded (and failed) in establishing boards, and will be talking about what works (and doesn’t work), the steps you need to go through, and what you need to have in place for success. Definitely one for me!
  • Leveraging corporate intelligence as an asset – Finding an edge, a USP, a hook. These are written on whiteboard and flipcharts in partnerships and new business teams around the UK with one single question… what is ours? Charities are now starting to recognise, utilise, and monetise their corporate intelligence as a key element of their new partnerships. Recent examples have included Stonewall, Alzheimer's Society, and the British Red Cross. In this session, three charities talk about how they 'sweat their assets' to offer something no-one else can.

My Fundraising Convention routine

As there is so much to do and see at Fundraising Convention, I have a routine I've established over my last five years so I can maximise my experience.

1. Decide which sessions I DEFINITELY want to attend. I circle them in my printout of the programme and write the rooms I need to be in when on a Post-It Note because I can get distracted or caught up in a conversation (and rooms can fill up very quickly – I sit at the front because late-comers distract me). 

2. Make time to look round the exhibition halls. Last year I met a potential new supplier, talked to an existing one about new developments, and found out about contactless fundraising boxes. These are our people. They understand our issues. And they're keen to help solve my problems. 

3. Arrange to catch up with friends and colleagues. With busy schedules, we can all neglect friendships at times. Fundraising Convention is a great opportunity to catch up and put the world to rights (making use of the many facilities of Whitecross Street nearby), or to reach out for a conversation with colleagues at other charities and pick their brains. 

Three reasons why you should book your place now:

If you still haven't booked your place, let me give you three reasons why you should do so now: 

1. Over 125 sessions with more than 6,000 hours of content across 9 different streams, and you get to attend all of them (and catch up on the rest by downloading the presentations and audio afterwards). 

2. At least ten people there are in similar organisations to yours, are working in similar roles as you, or are dealing with the same problems you are. Find them and they become professional friends for life. 

3. The chance to let your fundraising creativity out for a walk (don’t forget to bring your creativity notebook – not your work one!). I had one of my best ideas sat in a session listening to people from RLSB (now part of the Royal Society for Blind Children) talking about a successful campaign they ran. It wasn’t even in the partnerships track and they weren't talking about legacy fundraising, but something they said started my brain whirring and it helped me kickstart a successful new programme.  

See you there, and even if you’re an introvert, say hi!

Damian Chapman is Head of Fundraising at Police Care UK.

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