Personal Effectiveness: Leadership, diversity, imposter syndrome and more

: Esther Wakeman

Esther Wakeman looks at what the big topics are in this year's personal effectiveness track, and highlights the sessions that she is most excited about.

One of the things I love about Fundraising Convention is the quality of the speakers, and the Personal Effectiveness track is no exception with many well-loved speakers such as Lucy Gower, Rob Woods, Paul Amadi, Mandy Johnson and Lizzi Hollis. 

This year we have reached out to new speakers and paired speakers up so that we can fill your three days with more fundraising experts than ever before.

I would recommend 'The importance and power of story-telling' to fundraisers at all levels.  Lucy Gower is bestselling author of The Innovation Workout and a global speaker on innovation, and she will be sharing the stage with Matthew Sherrington and Esther Kwaku. I’m really looking forward to this session as I have seen first hand the impact that story telling can have in securing major gifts and also engaging with Boards and strengthening business cases for investment into fundraising.

I have heard Lucy speak on this subject before and found her advice very easy to apply, so it will be interesting to have two other speakers alongside her sharing their wealth of experience on this subject.  


If you are interested in developing your career into a leadership role, or are already a leader and would like some inspiration, then we have some great sessions for you.

On Monday we have a panel session with Joe Jenkins, Jo Swinhoe, Paul Amadi and Kate Collins to discuss the importance 'developing future fundraising talent and leaders'. Being a good leader is about people and how you bring out the best in them, so this is an opportunity to hear from experienced fundraising leaders on how they have responded to the challenges and opportunities of building successful teams. 

Diversity in the sector

On Wednesday we have a panel discussion about diversity in the sector with a brilliant line up of Elizabeth Bananuka, Leon Ward, Lucy Caldicott, Mandy Johnson, Fiona Pattison and Sarah Washington. This experienced panel will look at why the sector has such a diversity problem and what can be done to fix this.  

As we know, culture eats strategy for breakfast, so as a leader I would recommend attending Virginie Kan and Sonya Trivedy’s session on 21st Century leadership on Monday which looks at culture and change while staying true to yourself. Then on Wednesday David Mbaziira will share his expert knowledge on culture and inclusion.  

Practical advice

We have some great sessions with practical advice if you want to look at ways of becoming a better fundraiser. Rob Woods and Joy Jones share their experience on the compound effect which focuses on the benefits of small incremental improvements over always searching for the quick fix. 

Then there is our improv session with Shonali Rodrigues, Andrew Allen and Michelle Donkin which promises to improve your communication, collaboration and innovation. Definitely a great way to finish your Tuesday.

Finally, if you have recently been promoted or started a career in fundraising and find yourself questioning your own abilities – as I think we all do at times  then Lizzi Hollis and Caryn Skinner will give you ways to prevent and overcome those fears with their session 'Do you feel like an imposter?'

If you aren’t sure which sessions to attend or are torn between two sessions then a good starting point is to look at who the speakers are. All the speaker bios are on the Fundraising Convention website and it is worth checking them out on Twitter, if they have an account, to see who you think you will learn the most from.  Listening to all the outstanding speakers over the three days may even inspire you to submit a session for next years Convention!

Esther Wakeman is Director of Fundraising at Ashgate Hospicecare and Blythe House Hospicecare.

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