The Scottish Fundraising Conference returned last week to Glasgow for a two-day in-person event, for the first time since 2019 due to the pandemic.
The event attracted its highest ever attendance, beating that of 2019, with over 440 delegates attending on the first day. It promised “an opportunity to immerse yourself in the latest best practice, insights and successes of your fellow fundraisers”.
The event is, as always, produced by a large team of volunteers, who created, curated and marketed the conference.
Support of 13 sponsors
It was supported once again by its long-term lead sponsor, Johnston Mailing, and by 11 other sponsors and exhibitors, both existing and new.
The support of JustRunning.com for example provided bursaries for 15 fundraisers who were otherwise unable to attend.
The event was also supported by a team of volunteers to help ensure everything went well:
In return for supporting the event, volunteers received free entry to both days of the Conference, one night’s accommodation, networking opportunities and a free ticket to the Gala Awards dinner.
Not surprisingly the in-person nature of the event was the topic of many conversations. For some fundraisers, it was their first in-person conference or work event in more than two years.
Michelle Chambers of THINK Consulting mentioned this in her one-minute interview at the conference:
The impact of the pandemic could also be seen in the ticket sales pattern. The tendency to leave it to the last minute to book for online training and conference events seems to have been maintained for this in-person event. Around half of the tickets were booked in the final two weeks before the conference.
Equally the past two or more years have seen new expectations of events and conferences, how they are delivered, who delivers them, on what terms, and who can genuinely access them.
Six topic streams
The Conference’s content was presented in six streams:
- management and strategy
- individual giving and legacies
- community and events
- marketing, communications and digital
- personal development
There were also Ask the Experts sessions.
Given the failures to protect all delegates at past CIoF events, and the Chartered Institute’s slow response to address and redress these and other failings, this year’s Scottish Fundraising Conference operated under the Institute’s revised safety policy.
It sets out the safeguarding measures in place, its “zero tolerance policy to abusive or inappropriate behaviour” (including what constitutes such behaviour), and explains that all delegates, exhibitors and speakers are required to make a declaration that they will abide by the Code of Behaviour for Training and Events.
Nevertheless, the event took place shortly after the resignation of two of its Fellows and one member charity over these failings.
As in previous years, the first night of the Scottish Conference saw the Scottish Fundraising Awards Gala Dinner.
Attendance at the Scottish Fundraising Conference has demonstrated that in-person conferences, curated and supported by fundraisers as volunteers, have returned to the profession and been welcomed. The debate about hybrid formats for these and other events continues.
Katie Docherty, CEO of the CIoF, published an open letter on the first day of the Scottish Conference. She responded to the resignations and the organisation’s choice to offer members an in-person and then an online event, a Fundraising Festival, by outlining its progress on safeguarding, and providing an update on developments with the independent review – which she reiterated was her “top priority”.
In addition to an in-person forum by the Institute of Fundraising Northern Ireland this week on 16 June, the next major event from the Chartered Institute of Fundraising is its Fundraising Convention 2022 at The Barbican in London, from 4-6 July.