Tips for first-time delegates at Fundraising Convention

18/03/2024 | by Martyn Colebrook, Convention Board member

From the perspective of someone who has had the pleasure of attending many different types of conferences in different industries and professions, I would say that as a first-time delegate you should be more than willing to indulge your own intellectual curiosity and attend panels which interest you rather than those which might correlate directly with your work or career development. The reasons being that a broader willingness to engage in knowledge acquisition may well unearth transferrable skills or information to which you would otherwise not have had access.  

As a basic premise be prepared to look beyond the seniority or ‘profile’ of the speaker and consider the abstract first and foremost. Try to avoid restricting yourself to the same track and engage with the breadth of speakers and topics. It’s worth remembering that however daunting or technical a topic may appear, it is highly likely that there will be insights and opportunities to examine the ideas being presented and then consider how you can scale or adopt them into your own work. Just because a large charity is being represented, there is no reason why the project under discussion cannot be moderated or adopted into your own working environment – there is often innovation to be found in failure.

On a practical level, unless accessibility requirements dictate, avoid trying to take copious notes or photographs of the slides. It will distract from listening to delivered content which should be much more in depth and you’ll have access to the slides after Convention ends. Too often ideas which are broader than the bullet points are missed through a fixation on Powerpoint. Similarly, check for overlaps between presenters and exhibitors – you may be able to ask questions or elicit the same information they’re presenting about from speaking to them in between sessions.

Prepare questions prompted by the session abstracts beforehand and then you have a basis on which to vary these or modify them accordingly as the presentations are completed. As a point of etiquette aim to keep questions succinct, avoiding repetition from others and relevant – there’s only a finite amount of time available and the Chair will be keen to involve as many people as possible.