Chartered Institute of Fundraising’s Insight in Fundraising Conference 2020

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Earlier this week, Wood For Trees’ Managing Director, Jon Kelly, attended and chaired the Insight In Fundraising Conference 2020; a conference that Wood For Trees are very proud to have sponsored. Jon has shared his thoughts on the event below.

What a great day, with some fascinating talks and insight. Throughout the day, the engagement and interaction was very good – certainly on the sessions that I attended. It definitely wasn’t quite the same as the physical, in-person events that we are used to, but it most definitely exceeded my expectations and it was thoroughly enjoyable.

The organisation was first class – and almost without a hitch! – and I’d like to thank the volunteers and the central CIOF staff for ensuring such a successful and record breaking day. It was the largest conference we have ever put on!

There were talks from a large variety of speakers, charities and topics, covering areas such as segmentation, supporter engagement, email journeys, creative research, dashboarding and much more. It was really pleasing to see how people have adapted and learned through a hugely challenging year. Even more so,  how the use of new technologies has supported and enhanced the way the sector is able to drive and deliver insight.

This was highlighted by the talk from Lizzie Harris, Head of Customer & Loyalty Analytics at Sainsbury’s. Lizzie talked us through the agile way that Sainsbury’s reacted to the first lockdown, using their vast arrays of data to ensure they were delivering to customer needs at a time of immense uncertainty. Whilst charities certainly don’t have the level of data that retailers do, we still heard about how they have used the data that they have to better understand their audiences and their changing motivations, and to adapt and innovate with new products. We heard about new ways of communicating and new ways of analysing and measuring success.

I am particularly proud of the fact we had a good number of smaller charities speaking about what can be done with limited budgets and resources, as this is something we have tried to push this year. In fact, many of the talks highlighted the need to go back to basics and start with solid foundations which then enable you to build and optimise.

We covered:

  • How a state of the nation report showed Kew Gardens that they had core audiences beyond the over 60s age group they had previously focused on, and how they adapted their membership offering to a younger, family orientated audience in response
  • How Cats Protection unlocked the potential of all their supporter by combining data sources and unleashing insights across all their stakeholders
  • How Josie Fowler moved mountains at St Ann’s Hospice with the aid of just two spreadsheets and a large amount of good sense and sound judgement
  • The different approaches that British Red Cross and the Children’s Society took towards understanding and measuring supporter engagement
  • How RNID used Power BI dashboards to put data and insights into the hands of fundraising across the organisation
  • How Prostrate UK used creative research to pivot quickly when results weren’t as positive they were expecting
  • How social listening techniques were used by British Red Cross to get to sensitive or taboo topics by observing what people say to each other, rather than what they say to researchers

We also heard many stories of brilliant donors, and how by adapting and doing things differently organisations have continued to be able to tap into the generosity of the UK public.

I think I will leave the last word to Claire Rowney, Director of Fundraising, Marketing and Communications at Macmillan who urged us not to be paralysed by the need for more data and more insight. Insight is only as good as the actions it drives; going with your gut combined with some initial data evidence will often result in some of the best decisions. I couldn’t agree more! But the evidence from the conference showed me that the sector is getting better and better at providing the information required to support those gut decisions.

Again, thanks to all who participated in an inspiring day, and I look forward to more next year.