Making affluence history, fulfilling dreams of the future through fundraising, and an exciting announcement about IFC Asia were just some of the highlights of the 2016 International Fundraising Congress.
Delegates from 60 countries, international speakers from across the globe, best-practice fundraising being show-cased across all methodologies… this is just a taste of the excitement the 2016 International Fundraising Congress delivered.
As the New Zealand / Australia Ambassador, it was great to have 34 fellow delegates come from Down Under and The Land of The Long White Cloud to attend the IFC in the land of windmills, tulips and canals. Not that we saw too much of each other, as we were so busy mingling with and hearing the new perspectives of fellow fundraisers from every other corner of the globe! For me, that is one of the most refreshing and rewarding experiences of the four days of conferencing and social events.
The conference was kicked off with a bang, as the inimitable Amanda Palmer took to the stage, bringing us her own experiences with fundraising as an artist (“don’t you dare not ask for the things we need!”) and a song!
Speakers this year tackled the theme, “Asking the right questions” and what thought-provoking questions were asked! At every session I attended (there are so many the choice can be tricky) the speakers asked critical questions that made us stop, and really think.
For me, the ultimate thought-provoking questions came from the brilliant closing plenary by Anshu Gupta, the founder of the Delhi-based humanitarian aid and community development NGO Goonj. “Want to change the world?” he asked, “Why not improve it?”
Anshu had us contemplate “non-issues” – those that don’t make agendas and are often over-looked as priorities, for example, basic necessities like clothes. This was exemplified in the story of an Indian man, whose job it is to collect unclaimed dead bodies from slums, whose daughter Anshu quoted, “sometimes I hug the dead bodies at night to keep me warm.”
Goonj addresses the “nonissue” of lack of warm clothing, through its recycling of discarded clothes and household goods into useful products such as sanitary napkins. Clothes and material are provided to rural communities in exchange for labouring work on local infrastructure and development projects like repairing roads and well-digging. Goonj collects and delivers 1,000 tons of material every year through a network of 500 volunteers and 250 partners.
Other key messages Anshu emphasised, were that “these problems are not exclusive to India,” and my favourite, “Let’s make affluence history.”
Another brilliant session, titled “Futurology”, presented us with five of the most smart and inspiring women, each sharing their perspective on the dream they hope to fulfil through their fundraising. Facilitated by fabulous fundraising icon Kay Sprinkle-Grace, we heard powerful stories from Serbia – fundraising for democracy, Zimbabwe – fundraising for self-sufficiency. From the Netherlands we heard from an upcoming young star who challenged us to fundraise for collaboration, not competition, urging us to use the power we can harness when we work together.
Kay summed up the session beautifully with these powerful words, “Dreams are the power of our sector. To realise our dreams, we need courage, commitment, creativity, confidence and belief. We are all dream makers. Dream. Dare. Do.”
This is just a very small taste of the calibre of presenters, presentations and issues that you will hear at IFC, which is the flagship event of the Resource Alliance. Yes, it is a significant hike and cost to attend, but here’s good news! The inaugural IFC Asia will be held in Bangkok from 25th to 28th June 2017! Much closer for us!
After all these thought-provoking questions, I want to leave you with my own: “Do you need fresh, global, best-practice perspectives to re-energise yourself and your organisation’s fundraising?” If the answer is yes, let me know and I will ensure you are added to the mailing list for all the info on the 2017 IFC Europe and Asia events.