Fundraising Convention - The experience of being a speaker

06/12/2022 | by Lorraine Lewis


In 2016, my husband Lee and I set up The Lewis Foundation due to the personal experience of my mother-in-law being diagnosed with cancer and noticing the isolation, loneliness, boredom, and restricted income following a cancer diagnosis for adults.

Our charity, which provides patients with a choice of gift for free when attending appointments, treatment, or hospital stays, has grown from supporting 1 hospital to partnering with 17 hospitals across the Midlands, providing 2000 gifts a month to the hospitals we support.

There are 29 different gifts to pick from such as an overnight pack with toiletries and underwear, a puzzle book to pass the time or a blanket to keep you warm. We also spend time with people. We have a team of 50 volunteers ranging from school children to those who have retired. In addition, we have won 25 awards for our work locally, regionally, and nationally, including Hello! Magazine Inspiration Award, Prime Ministers Point of Light Award and Great British Entrepreneur Award.

Speaking at the Fundraising Convention

This year, I was given an incredible opportunity to speak as part of the plenary masterclass on Mental Health & Fundraisers at the Chartered Institute’s 2022 Fundraising Convention. Having founded a charity from scratch and starting with a donation of £30, I have first-hand knowledge of how hard it is to scale and grow a charity. This includes raising the necessary funds to deliver your services, including through times of uncertainty like the pandemic and the cost of living rising. It is hard, but I wanted to use my voice to reassure people that they are not alone, the importance of looking after yourself to enable you to do good and to celebrate and recognise the amazing things people are doing to make a difference in the world. It was clear having an opportunity to speak to others and share how they were feeling, something we don't often get to do was valuable and important. I was proud to be a part of this.

"The opportunity to speak at the Barbican has led me to other paid speaking opportunities to share my story to motivate and inspire staff members."

Enabling to raise awareness to amplify our platform. Since the event, I have won the University of Northampton Black History Month Award and The Great British Entrepreneur Award - Entrepreneur For Good. I have featured in the media such as GB News talking about the impact of the cost of living crisis on charities. In addition to securing a new charity ambassador Dr Nighat Arif who is the resident doctor on This Morning and BBC Breakfast. We have also been a Charity Partner at the National Women in Business Awards at Wembley.

How speaking at the Fundraising Convention helped me

As a small charity it was great to learn from other high profile, established charities in the sector. Since the Convention we have launched a page about Legacy giving on our website and communicated this through our social media channels/newsletter. We have revamped our online shop and launched an Ebay Store, which has built an additional income stream for our charity. We have really focused on building our corporate relationships and partners who are either donating surplus stock, funding our packs, or donating a % of sales from goods. It has really helped us to think outside the box and away from the traditional methods of getting money such as donations, grants, and fundraising. It has also led to paid speaking opportunities because the fact I was asked to be speak led to people seeing me as an expert in the field of charities, a leader and someone to follow. I have also built contacts with other charities and businesses, creating additional support networks.

Why should you become a Fundraising Convention Speaker?

Being a speaker is a fantastic opportunity to share your story and your voice about who you are and what you do. People get to know you and understand you - more than what you will ever get from a social media post or a written article. Having the opportunity to share who I am, what I have done, the struggles and achievements has opened up more doors for me and the charity. I see this as a key part of our strategy in amplifying our voice and getting support for the work we do.