Is Fundraising Convention just for fundraisers?

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Fundraising Convention, the Institute of Fundraising’s annual conference, is just for fundraisers because – well, the clue is in the name… but you’d be wrong.

This year marks my fourth Fundraising Convention and yet, I’m not a fundraiser. So why do I go?

I have four reasons:

  • To improve my fundraising knowledge
  • To challenge my own thinking
  • To network
  • To leave inspired by passionate speakers and amazing campaigns

Most fundraisers don’t work in silos. They work together with the communications and digital teams to ensure that their fundraising campaigns have inspiring copy, compelling images, reach the right people and are easy for people to donate or get involved. Whilst we all have our own specialisms, it’s important to build knowledge and skills in other disciplines so that we can work together more effectively and efficiently.  That’s why I attend Convention – so that I can improve and build on my knowledge and understanding of fundraising.

At last year’s Convention there was a brilliant Women Leaders in Fundraising panel discussion, which gave me lots of food for thought. This year one of the key themes is Diversity (and rightly so) and I’m looking forward to the BAME fundraisers in the UK – what’s race got to do with it? session as well as Pride in fundraising. I want to challenge my own assumptions and my own thinking.

Convention offers so many opportunities to network, which as a trustee of Small Charities Coalition, a Third Sector columnist and a freelancer is fantastic. There’s the delegate drinks on the Tuesday evening, for one, which is always an excellent opportunity to meet your peers. And don’t forget the lunch and coffee breaks! And if you need some tips on how to network, read this fab article on CharityComms.

Last year I spent most of my time in the Digital Stream sessions – another reason why non-fundraisers should attend Convention – and I left feeling inspired by the amazing speakers.

This year, I’ve picked out these sessions that I’m really excited about:

And here’s a whole bunch of other comms sessions, hand picked by CharityComms and the IoF. Also, if you’re interested in learning more about being a young trustee, come along to my session with Leon Ward and the Charity Commission.

I’ll once again be blogging the highlights. If you want to see what my highlights were from last year, you’ll find them here.

So if I’ve managed to convince you that Fundraising Convention is not just for fundraisers, book your ticket here.

The importance of personal branding in a digital age

We all have a digital footprint, whether we like it or not. Back in 2013, I presented on How to build a successful personal brand at 300 Seconds. These days, no matter what sector you work in, having a professional social media presence is vital. When applying for jobs, many recruiters will check your digital footprint to see how you present yourself on LinkedIn, Twitter and even Facebook.

Having a strong personal brand not only helps you to climb the career ladder but it can also open up a host of new opportunities, such as presenting at conferences, invites to events or even writing opportunities.

Photographer Charlotte Knee, who has worked with Masterchef’s Greg Wallace and Monica Galetti, Architect and TV presenter George Clarke and the Yammer team, interviewed me on the importance on personal branding and having a professional headshot. 

Professional-Headshot-Social-Media-Kirsty-Marrins-copyright-Charlotte-Knee-Photography_0001

If you’re interested in having professional headshots, Charlotte is offering a 10% discount with the code CKPHS15. Email her at info@charlotteknee.com

My 300 Seconds Presentation on How to Build a Successful Personal Brand

Image I was delighted to present at the latest 300 Seconds event, which took place on Wednesday 11 September at The Guardian, on the topic of How to Build a Successful Personal Brand.

If you are not familiar with the concept of 300 Seconds, they are a series of talks by and for the digital community. They are about ‘hearing from the brilliance of the many, not the few’ and you can read more about the concept here.

I was the first speaker up and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit nervous but the audience were warm and there were some friendly faces in the sea of people who gave me lots of encouragement. I won’t go into too much detail about my presentation but here are the main points:

  • We all have a digital footprint. Whether you like it or not.
  • Many of you are already building your personal brand, you just don’t realise it yet.
  • Building a personal brand is not always easy. It takes time, effort and dedication and you may have to do things that take you out of your comfort zone (like public speaking).

So what is a Personal Brand? It’s essentially a way of marketing yourself and what you represent. But what do you represent? You need to find your sound bite. Can you describe yourself in a word or two? For example, Nigella Lawson is known as a Domestic Goddess, Kate Moss is a Catwalk Queen.

Once you have figured out your sound bite you need to decide which area you want to be know in. Is it the sector you currently work in or a sector you want to move into? Do you have a particular specialism you want to be known for such as PR, Digital, Tech?

Now that you have this figured out, like all brands you need to build your network and earn your reputation. So how can you do this?

  • Follow relevant people in your social media circles
  • Join in conversations and add value
  • Attend events and network
  • Find guest blogging opportunities in your sector or specialism
  • Put yourself forward to speak at events

As I mentioned, building a personal brand doesn’t happen overnight but it is well worth the effort. Just remember that once you have built a successful brand you need to maintain it. Don’t let all your hard work go to waste once you land your dream job or work gets too busy. You need to find ways to integrate your online presence into your everyday life.