Reflections from Convention: taking fundraising forward together

06/07/2022 | by Katie Docherty

When I became Chief Executive back in October last year I heard how important it was for our members and fundraising community to be able to come together – both through events in person, or online. That feeling of being part of something, a togetherness of purpose, and shared values and commitment to our profession is what I was most looking forward to when taking on this role and the conversations, sessions, and learning that I have been able to be part of this week absolutely blew me away. 

On day 1 of Convention, Monday, there was a hugely important conversation with our Chair, Nadine Campbell, and Dr Julia Shaw, the founder of Talk to Spot, our new reporting system for any inappropriate behaviour. Working to make the fundraising profession safe is my top priority, and I would like to thank anyone who has shared their experience, both in the past and in the future, so that change can happen. 

This is a journey, both for us as an organisation, and for the sector as a whole, and on that journey we will learn, sometimes make mistakes, but always learn and improve where we can. And where we make mistakes we will own them. This week we made a mistake by not ensuring all session titles were appropriately worded. I’m sorry this happened and we acted to change this.

My background is fundraising and it’s an absolute honour to work for you, and for the Chartered Institute. I knew I needed to start my journey with you by listening to you, through our member roundtables, survey, and many many conversations with members and colleagues. I have heard you, and have been making the changes you want to see. 

In a couple of months, at our AGM in September, I will be sharing our new organisational strategy, shaped around values: honesty, transparency, delivering on your priorities, being respectful, and proud and ambitious of you and your work. Our new strategy will focus our work on championing you and the fundraising profession, amplify your voice, represent your values, support members with events and resource, as well as advocate for and advance equality, diversity and inclusion across the sector and as an employer. 

Our future work must be accessible to all across our community, small or large charitable fundraising, wherever you are across the UK. We will deliver work in a mix of formats, both in-person and online. And even though Fundraising Convention is only just done, I’m already looking forward to our brand new online Festival of Fundraising which will take place on 1 December.  

While our new strategy officially starts for 2023 – there’s no reason for us to wait on getting to grips with the issues of the day and the challenges you face. I’ve been really pleased over the last few months to join with fellow CEOs and colleagues across Civil Society to combine the voice of fundraisers with CEOs, finance professionals, comms professionals, and others. The cost of living crisis and the big challenges ahead are ones that no one organisation, or part of our sector can solve on its own, and I firmly believe collaboration and bringing the voice of fundraising to the table is a fundamental part of my role to best represent you. 

A pressing issue I’ve heard recurrently from conversations with members is the recruitment crisis in fundraising. We need to attract new talent, broaden our pool of fundraising professionals, and look at how we can improve retention within our sector. I’m delighted that we will be bringing a new workforce together, chaired by Harpreet Kondel, take forward a programme of work in this area.   

There is a lot to do. My journey with you has only just started, and I can’t wait to work with more of you as we, together, to take forward our wonderful profession and make an even bigger difference for the causes we care about. Thank you for being proud fundraisers.