‘As fundraisers we are resilient and innovative’


Rebecca Mansell, Trusts and Foundations Manager at Sense International, talks about the resilience and innovation of fundraisers, and says that fundraisers need to reflect the communities they serve. Ahead of Fundraising Convention Online she talks about the importance of both accessibility and showcasing diversity with visibility.

It seems like such a long time ago since we last heard Sir Lenny Henry's amazing opening plenary at the Chartered Institute of Fundraising's 2020 online Fundraising Convention. I came out of the convention with a huge sense of pride, inspiration and drive when Sir Lenny said, “A big shout out to everybody in the fundraising sector because you rock, you rock like a rocky monster!"

That is absolutely true. Sir Lenny touched the spot and reignited my fire when we needed it most. For many of us, one year ago, we were probably at our lowest point in our careers when COVID-19 made our jobs as fundraisers very difficult. But as fundraisers, we have this special skillset amongst us – we are resilient and we are incredibly innovative, finding unique ways to navigate our way out of the viral storm to produce results and ultimately making a difference to the causes we work for.

The whole of Fundraising Convention over the next two days was packed full of inspiring speakers and presentations. I was in awe of how the Chartered Institute managed to turn the incredibly popular in-person convention into a successful online event – accessible all from the comfort of my sofa!Fundraising-Convention-interprator-(Rebecca-Mansell).jpg

When the world switched to online events, I had to think outside the box on how to access them as a deaf participant. Usually I had the privilege of watching British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters interpreting on stage next to an array of speakers, in the full gaze of the audience. The Chartered Institute was amazing, arranging for the interpreters to access the convention on one screen whilst interpreting for me on another screen. This worked really well, although nothing beats the opportunity to showcase diversity with visibility.

I loved how Sir Lenny said, “Look at who works with you and the community you’re serving and try and match that, so that your team reflects what’s happening beyond your doors. It’s a matter of reaching out to your community, looking at the people who are there and asking how can we serve you and include you in what we do?”

On that note, I am really excited that this year's convention includes a session on disability, which will be delivered by Julia Ammon from Blesma, The Limbless Veterans – ‘What disabled fundraisers bring to the party?’ I don't think any of us will want to miss that – see you there!

Rebecca Mansell is Trusts and Foundations Manager at Sense International and a Trustee of the Chartered Institute of Fundraising.