30 fundraising memories in 30 fundraising years

30th-BirthdayThe institute of Fundraising is celebrating its 30th birthday at its annual Convention. It’s an opportunity to reflect and celebrate how far we have come in british fundraising. But equally its a time to step up and shape the next 30 years.

A lot has changed since 1983 as the BBC reflected as it celebrated 30 years of Breakfast TV. The march of technology, the growth in wealth & living standards, the flourishing of enterprise and choice all can’t hide the urgency and need that exists around our world. Fundraising has organised, learnt, innovated, raised standards, learnt new skills, attracted new people, reached new audiences and over that time has transformed the world. The donor, the fundraiser and the beneficiary. It continues to do so.

It’s good to know we belong to something that transforms. As we look back on our achievements and the hills we have climbed together, its sometimes good to remember through the small steps, the single personal memories, the inconsequential, the quirky. When we look back at our life events we often see them through a soundtrack, a joke, a funny story, a tear, a photo. They provide a window on the roundness of our achievements, our failures, our regrets. The whole can sometimes be seen through the small – and when joined up, shows the richness we may have forgotten.

I became a fundraiser on June 2nd 1983. So it’s 30 years for me too. I joined the IOF that very same year, thrilled at the prospect of belonging and making better, of learning. If there was one big influence on me, it was the institute, the annual convention, the sharing. As I look back over that time, I thought about an overwhelming treasure chest of memories, the good and bad, the success and the failure, the donors, the colleagues, the people who needed us, achievement, regret, fun and heart touching moments of overwhelming inspiration, passion, love and joy. So, for my 30 year reflection, as the Institute celebrates 30 years, here are my 30 memories from 1983 to now. There are millions more than this of course, but its a list that shows that it’s the mix that makes the magic for me. Big and small, sad and happy, funny and moving. Here goes….

  1. Watching Live Aid and being overwhelmed by the video with the Cars soundtrack- then watching Bob Geldof shout at us to give
  2. Collecting a reel of film in a cardboard box at a talk at Luton Ladies Circle because I forgot the other reel – pre video….I know…(your age may make this memory pointless)
  3. Starting a Friday Fax to share success in the week – cutting edge (do you remember when you first saw a fax come through?…again, your age may make this memory pointless)
  4. Watching Giles Pegram speak at a staff conference and swelling with pride – really getting what fundraising was about and for, and never ever forgetting his clarity, passion, determination and courage
  5. Collecting a cheque for a million pounds – and for much less of course
  6. Spraying corporate sponsors at a reception with a rampant bottle of champagne I had opened wrongly and had then inexplicably placed my fingers over the top….slow motion playback…I hit most of them as well
  7. Blisters on my fingers blowing up white balloons for a national balloon race, only to have the balloons bounce across a field and in to the woods
  8. Being told off by the Duke of York at a Regional Appeal Board meeting during the Full Stop Appeal
  9. Laying down on a road after the party with the UNICEF team at the convention in Warwick University campus
  10. My first IOF presentation on Regional Fundraising done with slides on a carousel
  11. Speaking at a branch meeting in Devon where I got locked in the loo just before I spoke and in 90 degrees of heat….sauna in a suit…
  12. Seeing growing babies being weighed on a set of scales bought by UNICEF in a clinic full of beautiful children and smiling mothers in a village in Indonesia
  13. Being secretly tape recorded by angry volunteers in Northern Ireland when I tried to close a shop that was losing money (they sent the tape to the UN….) Also had a petition sent to the Queen once but that’s another story….
  14. Celebrating an IPA Effectiveness award for Remember a Charity – and watching our first humour led TV ad appear live on TV
  15. My leaving party with the Legacy team at the NSPCC….best send off in my life and the most love in a room ever
  16. Sitting in a cafe pouring a little confidence into a fundraising talent that had lost their way – a lot of the best work was done in cafe’s in one to ones, just talking, dreaming, deciding
  17. Hearing the phrase from an upset volunteer “you come up here in your Saville row suit”…Marks & Spencer’s actually…it was a head office thing that was all,
  18. Picking up coins and cash in my car in post offices in rural Cambridgeshire from the annual house to house collection, listening to the radio – with no mobile phones either
  19. Taking the last beer out of the last vending machine at 4.30am at IFC and being with the last few left before breakfast
  20. Hearing Marion Wright Edelman at my first AFP in San Diego talking about children – profoundly moving
  21. Walking in Southwold, looking at the inspiring plaques on the rail on the pier and suddenly getting the magic of legacies and what I could do about it – a big turning point
  22. Being told by Henry Drucker in a lift after a solicitation meeting, that I wasnt mad, to stick to my guns and to believe in myself
  23. Finding and hiring some amazing people (and sadly having to lose some but hopefully always with kindness)
  24. Seeing a donor tell a board of very high value people about her abuse as a child
  25. Sitting at the kitchen table, having a cup of tea at Maggie’s in Edinburgh on my first week and listening to Angus tell me about getting cancer and why his life was transformed by visiting Maggie’s
  26. Doing a TV interview about Jade Goody at the London Marathon in the rain in a hastily found but far too small branded sweatshirt – looked like a telly tubby in a pond
  27. Discovering that you can illustrate every plan, strategy and approach using a triangle
  28. Experiencing a ghost in an office late one evening while completing a mailing, and running out the door without locking up
  29. Convention bars and dance floors….obviously best not to go there really, but always a life affirming joy
  30. Watching an AGM erupt with emotion when they voted to change the name of The Spastics Society to Scope

I have many more. So do you. Don’t forget them.

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2 comments
  1. What a fantastic list Stephen, and I’m very happy to be a small part of some of those! Here’s to another 30…40…50…

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