Institute of Fundraising National Convention write up

General points:

It is really difficult to put together this one, as I have been involved in the Convention on so many levels, yet I think it is important to make a note of few points. On the way back from London I recorded few quick points to remember them when it comes to writing (apologies for the quality of the recording, iPadio is really bad but I had no stable wifi on the train). So just to repeat: I am really happy that quite a few people contributed to the social media coverage of the event. Our bloggers did a great job at the event: @PhilCampbell, @PCMCreative, @MartynSibley, @SteveBridger, @HowardLake, Jo Johnson. It is not easy to find time during such an intense series of sessions.I am really impressed with the work of IoF team – Ruth, Sarah, David, Paul, Adam, Clair, Ed, Emma, Katie, Ollie, Shayan, Shane. Each of them committed a little piece of their time but most of all pushed their own boundaries, took an active part in social media training and found their favourite tools. Some of them used it actively during the event, others used newly gained an understanding of social media to incorporate it in organisation and promotion of the event, others understood the importance of free Internet access and bloggers area. Without their openness and supportiveness, we would be still struggling to post single tweets! @NickinOxford and Goeff (@thephoneroom) were great in teaching people to tweet and solving other social media related issues. I have met so many interesting people, I have even joined the IoF! @LucyInnovation, @ALO365 and @keanearrow were the people I really wanted to meet personally for quite a while now. It’s always a good, warm feeling to chat to someone and realise that 1. they are genuine in their online presences, 2. meeting off-line is so much better!:) It’s a real privilege to know them. In my above podcast I made a personal note about @MelissaLeon and @AJLeon, so you can hear it there. A really inspiring couple of geeks!

My own blogging:

As for my own blogging, I like to use @colinemercer’s approach – “the good, the bad and the ugly” analysis:

The good: I managed to balance three identities – @natconvention, @nfpvoice and @presleysylwia. It means that now I have plenty to blog about in all venues, but it is achievable. As for Twitter – I think it’s a question of smart balance. On the first day we all needed to ensure that bloggers have all they need to post and access info so I was primarily focussing on Convention work. On Tuesday attendees increasingly needed support on Twitter and social media strategy, so I had to put on my Voice hat more often. On Wednesday, when both Convention and Voice presences were established, I could spend more time with people as Sylwia, the blogger. You might think it is crazy, but in every event, we work on, we do need a smart approach as all our identities need to benefit from each other but most of all – benefit the organisers and attendees.

The bad: I have small technical issues and I find it hard to forgive myself that I did not bring a tripod and did not check the battery life of my secondary video camera! Foolish, but lesson learned.

I did not network enough on the first day, which I regret. OK, I managed to meet all the bloggers and people I knew from Twitter, but as I look back now, I could have done more of it.

I did not think of engaging attendees who were there for their first time – something to consider in a strategy for every event!

The ugly: After 3 hrs of work on Storify the service crashed so I lost all the aggregated tweets and a great deal of precious at events time! I was using as a backup but since Posterous does not like Flash, I could do nothing with the curated tweets! Which means I had to do it all over again and rearrange my work on the night. Well, lesson learned, save often and save it all! I am still glad that my rule of two backup tools proved useful, as I had all tweets curated, ready to be posted on Storify if needs are.

Vodafone. Well, this one deserves a separate post (and so there is one on the way) but shortly – I did not realise that Vodafone is ACTUALLY blocking my personal domain ( so I could not post in the evenings from my remote Vodafone wifi and really could not purchase a new dongle or MiFi. I do it now, but I do not like to leave live blogging on my personal site out. Voice blog came to the rescue, still, I could have had a better, more personal take on all days.

Feedback on IoF National Convention

Social Media. For the last few days, I have been asking many people for their opinions about the event. When it comes to the social media coverage I posted it on Voice blog, but I will repeat it here – we need more of it. We need more people involved, ready to tweet before they even register. We need everyone to embrace the potential to be able to make the most of the new channels – but only where we find them useful, not to overdo it. I do dream of twitter wall in each session room, free wifi and virtual interaction (just as we did in @AJLeon’s session, where we were able to ask questions coming from Twitter), but I know that it is all a slow process and can only hope that this year managed to speed it up a bit.

Organisation. The issue with overcrowded sessions is something that needs a solution and I am sure it will be addressed. I worry more about the newcomers. I think this year I really made the most of what IoF had to offer. Last year (my first Convention) I felt lost (if I put @SteveBridger’s and @HowardLake’s mentoring aside of course). There were few tweets on the topic and I think there are simple ways to make the newcomers prepared for the nature of the event.

The content of sessions. I was happy to see social media as almost a natural element of discussions – as opposed to last year when I managed to fall into the trap of “digital” and create the assumption that I work in e-mail marketing. So from what I see the general awareness of social media is better, we still associate it with particular silos (marketing, comm’s) and particular types of activities (paid FB ads for promotion). I think we need to grow wiser and start to embrace the real potential of social media by talking about content, relationships, trust, transparency, supporter loyalty, KPI’s and strategy (I know, the current dialogue in the UK seems to oppose that, I disagree, but lets at least discuss it based on good case studies), even social media for recruitment! All those topics are connected and we will need to see more specific case studies. I was happy to see commercial entities (Microsoft, Google) presenting, but I would like to see more practice than theory – at the end of the day we can really find all manuals to tools online, what we want to know is whether they work and how to optimise them for our own organisational purposes wisely. I want to see Microsoft and Intel present the strategy, process and results of their blogger engagement conducted when launching new products. I would also like to see more examples from local non-profits! I cannot believe we are not talking about ActionAidUK engaging bloggers and travelling with them to Brazil! We did not even mention Greenpeace and their supporter recruitment process (AirPlot campaign, Nestle, Barbie or recent Start Wars) – may be strictly not relevant to our fundraising arena but containing so many valuable insights, which would prevent us from reinventing the wheel. We need to also start talking about community management and social media for fundraising events – huge areas with quite a few good case studies already.

So yes, I am really looking forward to the next one and I hope to see more of everything: geeks, space in sessions, case studies and…geeks;)


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