Why I am making sure to attend Fundraising Convention alongside my team

: Liz Tait

Liz Tait, Director of Fundraising at Teenage Cancer Trust, says that fundraisers are key to her charity’s future success and that their development is crucial, and says that is one of many reasons that she will be attending Fundraising Convention alongside her team.

This summer marks my 20th year in the sector and I feel so lucky to have had many rewarding, challenging, exciting and joyful years in the working world. And especially lucky for all the people I’ve worked with, the causes that I’ve served and for the feeling of fulfilment I’ve felt at the end of each day (well, most days anyway). And yet in a funny way I still feel at the start of my career and am looking forward to the next chapter, recognising that I still have lots to learn, especially at a time when fundraising is changing and evolving at pace. 

Over recent years I’ve learnt that there’s nothing I love more than being in a room full of fundraisers, and drawing on the fantastic energy that they have. So with thousands of fundraisers soon to be converging on the Barbican, I’m already looking forward to the first week in July. Three days dedicated to our amazing profession, three days that I religiously protect from other meetings and three whole days where I commit to cramming in as much networking and learning as humanly possible. 

I joined Teenage Cancer Trust in late 2018 so for me personally as a Director of Fundraising it will come at a great time, when I’ll be able to reflect on everything I’ve learnt so far in my new role and connect with peers and colleagues across the sector.

Teenage Cancer Trust is a vibrant and ambitious charity and we are currently developing a new fundraising strategy as we look to transform the income we raise, and grow the impact we deliver, for young people with cancer. We have some exciting choices ahead of us, so it’s essential that we’re plugged into the latest developments in the sector both now and in the future. 

Like all charities, at Teenage Cancer Trust we’re facing uncertain economic times and are working in an ever more challenging environment. We’re fundraising in a fast moving world with greater scrutiny, complexity, innovation and competition. Opportunity lies all around us however and we need to be best placed to respond to these opportunities. 

Teenage Cancer Trust puts an emphasis on continuous learning, and I don’t take for granted that we are lucky to have an expert learning and developlment team, headed up by my colleague Susie Wallis who is leading this exciting new approach to development for our charity.

‘This year we’re investing more than ever in Fundraising Convention’ 

This year we’re investing more than ever before in the Fundraising Convention as one of many development opportunities that our teams are able to access. We recognise just how key fundraisers are to our future success as a charity and how important their development is. In fact our very own chief executive Kate Collins will be talking on a panel about developing future fundraising talent and leaders, something that she’s done so brilliantly at Teenage Cancer Trust over the years. Do come along at midday on Monday 1 July to hear more from Kate. 

At this year’s Fundraising Convention it’ll also be an opportunity to plug into the latest developments in our profession, to understand better the great work of the Institute of Fundraising, particularly on its journey to chartered status, as the final decision will be made at the AGM taking place on 1 July. And also its work on the Change Collective campaign which aims to drive equality, diversity and inclusion in fundraising, which will continue to develop at Fundraising Convention. 

What to look out for

The programme is jam packed with brilliant sessions; but a few to look out for, the speakers and subjects of which are close to my heart, and ones I’ve personally set time aside for are:

  • At 12pm on Monday 1 July the brilliant Lisa Aubrey from Save the Children will be presenting along with Helen Trenchard, Nicola Hunter and Chris Farrell about the growth of community fundraising and unlocking the potential of community supporters. I was first connected with Lisa when she was at Cancer Research UK and seeing her always puts a spring in my step. 
  • At 9.15am on Tuesday 2 July Nicola Bott from Teenage Cancer Trust and Ben Swart from NSPCC will be reflecting on their learnings from winning (and losing) new corporate partnerships. Nicola’s success includes securing the Morgan Stanley and MetroBank partnerships in the last few months alone – and Ben always delivers a brilliant session – so this is one to watch out for (I will be there, possibly with a sore head, and definitely with a big cup of tea after the National Fundraising Awards on the evening on the Monday).
  • Another reason to get out of bed and get to Fundraising Convention for 9.15am on Tuesday 2 July will be to hear from Jon Jacques, Head of Legacies at Save the Children and Ian Boardman from Consider, two creative geniuses and top people in the sector who will have some great insight to share on developing stand out legacy campaigns. 
  • At 10.45am on Tuesday 2 July Ross Miller from Missing People and Malcolm Tyndall from Whizz Kidz will be talking about their experience of winning a seven figure grant from the People’s Postcode Lottery Dream Fund. As a new and proud Trustee of the Dream Fund I know I’ll find it very valuable to hear their learnings before the next funding round begins and my first Trustee meeting.
  • At 11.45am on Tuesday 2 July Paul McKenzie and Ellie Rocks from Depaul UK, will be talking about harnessing the power of volunteer boards and sharing their success with setting up a corporate fundraising board and delivering a corporate challenge event through using this approach. Two amazing fundraisers with amazing learnings to share from their time at Battersea.
  • At 10.45am on Wednesday 3 July the session ‘understanding power and privilege’ from Lucy Caldicott, Rebecca Olokun and Shaista Aziz, looks as if it will be incredibly insightful and an essential session for fundraisers at all levels, but particularly senior leaders as we try to build more diverse and inclusive teams.  
  • At 11.45am on Wednesday 3 July the session with Dani Hughes from the British Heart Foundation on what the sector has got to learn from start ups feels very timely. I’m really interested in lean start up methodology and agile ways of working, particularly as we are looking to embrace a new approach to innovation at Teenage Cancer Trust, so this one is firmly in my diary.  
  • And last but not least at 3.00 pm on Wednesday 3 July I’ll be there to hear from Maddy Eastwood from Battersea and Roger Lawson, talking about their approach to measuring and increasing donor satisfaction. A session close to my heart after having spent eight years at Battersea and working with the individual giving guru that is Maddy.  

This handful of sessions are all before three brilliant plenaries with Dame Kelly Holmes, Jonny Benjamin and Neil Laybourn (and one still to be announced next week), plenaries which will undoubtedly be thought provoking and provide a huge dose of inspiration, if those from recent years are anything to go by. I could go on, there’s so much more and at Fundraising Convention there’s something for everyone, every day and at every level. 

Book your ticket for you and your team before the prices increase on 17 June. Don’t miss out and I hope to see you at Fundraising Convention to share in an amazing few days together. 

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