Our Top 5 Learnings from IFC Holland 2017

In October 2017, the international fundraising and social impact community gathered together for 4 days outside Amsterdam to spark conversations that would collectively change the course of the fundraising world. IFC Holland 2017: A New Conversation was attended by over 1000 delegates from 60 countries, eager to share their social impact knowledge and experience with each other, because it is only by working together that we can overcome the challenges that face our world.

Through deep-dive Masterclasses, interactive Workshops, inspiring Plenaries, and even over coffee, industry experts presented invaluable insights from both their successes and their failures in sectors ranging from Fundraising and Philanthropy to Leadership and Communications and Digital Innovations.

While what we learned from the conference could certainly fill a book, our Top 5 Learnings from IFC Holland 2017 were:

1 . Rethinking the Value of Volunteers

Delegates were urged to specifically rethink their attitudes towards volunteers as not just “free labor,” but instead as key team players. Volunteers are the backbone of our industry. Without them, we would not be able to effect the change our organisations are striving to achieve. IFC Holland taught us that by empowering our volunteer networks to be more active and engaged with staff, together we can achieve our missions!

2. Showing Some Donor Love

“Donor Fatigue” is plaguing the sector. The conundrum is that the more desperately we try to reach our donors for support, the less likely they are to give. Speakers at IFC Holland 2017 challenged us to rethink how we engage with our donor base by deepening these relationships. This can be achieved by opening the lines of communication, encouraging collaborations, and generally showing our donors some much needed LOVE!

3. Overcoming Barriers to New Innovations

In our digitally driven world, innovation is king. In the nonprofit world, “the Bottom Line” is what takes precedence, often leaving many small to mid-sized organizations vulnerable to being left behind because of bandwidth, finances, and fear of failure. IFC 2017 sessions focused on giving us the tools to recognize and overcome barriers to innovation, specifically how to operate in a climate that encourages risk and allows for failure, thus creating outcomes the might never have otherwise realized.

4. Marketing to Millennials

The future of fundraising is the Millennial Market – but how do we reach this digitally-obsessed, short-attention-spanned market that demands transparency, results, and above all “realness?” IFC 2017 delegates learned how young people can be cultivated from “awareness to activism to giving.” This youth demographic requires new ways of thinking, non-conventional outreach, and revolutionary campaigning, long before they even have the capacity to give. One thing is for sure: Millenials are definitely worth the investment from our industry.

5. Beyond Fundraising

One of the most common themes running through IFC Holland 2017 was that social impact depends on more than just fundraising. For sustainable growth and long-term success, we must begin to explore innovative financing and partnership opportunities. Because of the temperamental nature of fundraising, our very survival depends upon being open to new ideas – even including sharing our success secrets with each other… which is exactly what IFC is all about!

After all the sessions, networking opportunities, and plenaries, we could all agree that conversation and collaboration are vitally necessary to invigorate and sustain our social impact work. Building on the learnings of 2017, this year’s IFC will focus on the theme of “Together We Can.” We hope that you can join the conversation from 16-18 October, 2018 in Holland where together we can change the world!