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For the Love of Fundraising: I Wish I’d Thought of That in the Time of Coronavirus

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If 2020 showed us anything, it’s that fundraising isn’t easy. Raising money for a non-profit can be stressful at the best of times, but lately, it’s been even more challenging.

When coronavirus arrived, an unwelcome visitor on all our shores, lockdowns quickly followed. We were all afraid for ourselves and our families. And as the virus took hold around the world, it wreaked havoc on organizations’ ability to fundraise and connect with their donors. Unsurprisingly, passionate and committed fundraisers like you worried about your supporters and your beneficiaries too.

But perhaps we need not have been so scared? 

At home offices in every corner of the globe, fundraisers turned up to do what you do best. You see, if fundraisers have one quality, it’s resilience. And a sense of solidarity. Okay, you got me, that’s two qualities. Of course, there are many more, but it’s your resilience that has impressed SOFII (the Showcase of Fundraising Innovation and Inspiration) the most. For example:

  • In the UK a group of furloughed fundraisers acted fast to set up a community chat where they could offer each other support while out of work.
  • In Italy, a group of fundraisers formed a task force to provide pro bono fundraising for the country’s beleaguered hospitals.
  • And in New Zealand, the national fundraising association, FINZ, launched a campaign asking fundraisers to help save it from bankruptcy – the donations and support flooded in.

I’m sure you can think of countless examples of how you and your peers have pivoted and achieved great things during this pandemic. We have heard from many non-profit organizations around the world who took the brave step to keep campaigns going or launch new ones. And here at SOFII we are proud and delighted to have shared these inspirational stories and the love of fundraising with the community.

Fundraisers have responded amazingly, with solidarity and innovation, to the coronavirus pandemic.

Getting by with a little help from your friends and a love of fundraising

Happy, knowledgeable fundraisers can achieve amazing things and at SOFII our job is to make sure you feel valued, inspired, and supported. So, if 2021 is still getting you down, we want to help.

SOFII was founded over ten years ago with the purpose to celebrate and support fundraisers. Our unofficial motto is that “no fundraiser should ever feel alone.” And right now, that sentiment seems more relevant than ever. Yet like many small charities, the current crisis means we have needed to find new ways to reach the people who rely on us – fundraisers like you.

So SOFII made our own big, slightly scary pivot! In April 2020 we hosted the first virtual edition of our flagship event I Wish I’d Thought of That, aka IWITOT.

Since 2012, we’ve been running live IWITOT events in London and at conferences around the world. The principle is simple: a group of smart fundraisers is given seven minutes each to talk about a fundraising idea they wished they’d thought of. Then the audience votes for their favorite, X Factor-style, at the end. Oh, and the idea cannot be one that the presenting fundraiser was involved with themselves. We really do ban egos for the day! It’s a fun, light-hearted way of sharing ideas and spreading the love of fundraising.

There was some trepidation in taking IWITOT online (not least from me, I co-hosted our first attempt). Would it still be engaging? Would people tune in from their homes? As it turns out over 700 people from around the world joined our first virtual fundraising event. It was met with rave reviews from fundraisers – with many saying that IWITOT is still their favorite fundraising event of the year. Phew!

Now it’s your chance to be inspired too. You deserve it!

SOFII is thrilled to be bringing the virtual IWITOT experience to all our friends across the pond for IWITOT: The Americas on Tuesday, January 26, 2021. Featuring ten speakers from the US, Canada, South America, and Mexico, your peers are ready and waiting to help motivate you when you need it most.

There isn’t much time until the next IWITOT event, so get your ticket to IWITOT: The Americas before it’s too late. We know you will come away inspired and uplifted – but don’t take our word for it, check out this example of how one fundraiser turned an IWITOT idea into a money-spinner for their organization.

IWITOT always aims to inspire. And it does.

At the first virtual IWITOT one of our presenters, Joshua Leigh, sang the praises of a little zoo in California that, having closed due to COVID-19, started offering donors the chance to beef up their Zoom meetings with a guest goat joining the call. Brilliant, right?

A smart, enthusiastic fundraiser from cancer charity Marie Curie in the UK was in attendance at IWITOT and promptly devised a plan to offer virtual dates for donors with… alpacas instead! The results have been spectacular, which doesn’t just show that IWITOT is a superb event (though it is). It shows what we have all known for ages – that fundraisers sharing ideas really can make the world a better place.

The pandemic continues to shine a spotlight on the fact that the world needs fundraisers: it needs your passion, your stories, your enthusiasm, and your resilience. I’m certain that if you join us at IWITOT: The Americas, you will come away as inspired and uplifted as the plucky Marie Curie fundraiser I’ve mentioned above. Thank you for being part of our amazing fundraising community.

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