I’m just back from a trip to Europe where I was part of the opening plenary at this year’s International Fundraising Congress outside of Amsterdam. (I also keynoted the NGO track at the Internet Festival in Pisa, Italy (more about that in separate post later). The IFC is amazing global community of fundraising professionals, representing nonprofits working in every continent of the globe. The conference had 1,000 delegates and offers high quality production values and advanced content sessions as well as incredible networking opportunities.
I was honored to be invited to be one of the speakers during the opening plenary along with Keith Jenkins from National Geographic and Ben Rattray from Change.org. The theme was “Inspire, Connect, and Transform.” The production values were high – we did several run of show rehearsals. The stage had a 22 meter screen with side screens that had a camera on the speaker and full tech team at the back of the house. The Plenary content was a creative jigsaw puzzle, a creative collaboration curated by Derek Humphries and hosted by Marcelo Iniarra, from Argentina.
IFC also commissioned a brief film and song, “The Moment,” sung live by an amazing singer, Chris Griffin and composed by Auroris. Marcelo expertly wove in audience interaction – which was quite impressive given that there were over 1,000 people in the room.
The plenary opened with a montage of a few dozen quotes collected from fundraisers around the world about what inspires them before Marcelo, the plenary host welcomed the audience and framed the first theme of “inspiration” by talking about it as a inhalation, taking in breaths. The beautiful film about what inspires fundraisers and song came next. It delighted and surprised the audience because the singer, Chris Griffin, entered from the rear of the room and it wasn’t until the spotlight landed on him that we realized it was live.
Marcelo asked the audience to reflect on what inspires them and to write it down on a card that was placed on their seats. (These cards were later put on the walls of a hallway so everyone could see). He excited the stage while people reflected on their personal inspiration from their work.
To share what inspires him, Marcelo road a bike into the large plenary room from the back and right on the stage. This wasn’t just a gimmick. It set up his story about how he keeps his inspiration as a fundraiser — it is called “Bikestorming” where he rides bikes with him team, visits the people who are supported by his agency, and takes field trips. I love the idea of “bikestorming” and I recommend that you listen to Marcelo’s Tedx talk. The first speaker was Keith Jenkins who is the digital manager for National Geographic. He shared an amazing story of how his institution has adapted to online networks and digital photography, but the even more inspiring were the many photos and the stories of social change behind those photos.
The next segment was “Connect” and Marcelo set this up by talking about how the world is now a global coffee house and showing how the news of the Nobel Peace Prize travelled around the world on Twitter. He then used two tin cups connected by string to call me up on stage to do my talk about the power of connecting with donors online and that fundraisers need to embrace charity slacktivists. A good summary of my talk can be found in this blog post from Civil Society Fundraising and this summary.
To set up the next segment with the theme of transform, we saw a clip from a recent Unicef Campaign – see above. Then there was interactive active segment that was brilliant. Marcelo projected the screen of a game called “Scream and Run” a Zoombie game where you scream and it nukes the zoombies. He did the game alone on the stage and then had everyone in the audience do again. The idea is that it is hard to get the crowd to speak with one voice, but the next speaker, Ben Rattray, Change.Org has done that. Ben gave an amazing talk about some of the success stories from Change.Org where anyone can start a micro movement to galvanise support and change real-world policy. Change.org has more than 75 million users with 20,000 new petitions created every month – and he is seeing organizations work with activists at both the local, national, and international level. All in all one of the most amazing experiences I ever had. I also did a big room session the following day where I talked about how nonprofits can have all staff and leaders leverage networks in service of the organization’s mission. You can find the storify here.
All in all this was one of the most inspirational and professional rewarding speaking and teaching I’ve done in a long time. Thank you #IFC!