Institute of Fundraising North Internet & Social Media Conference

Yesterday, we were rather chuffed to be invited up to York to speak at the IOF North conference that focussed on Internet, Email and Social Media use. One of the reasons why we were so happy to speak at it (and the Royal We here is me and the Digital Marketing Manager, Jacqui) is that it was all resolutely anti-jargon.

This was – somewhat like the Social Media Exchange we ran a masterclass at – a very practical conference. Of course there was some theory-based stuff, but we were invited to present a case study precisely because the entire point was to show charities how these things work in reality rather than just waffle about digital space and all that malarkey. Not that all that isn’t important; it’s just that very often by the time people have got to the conference stage they’re past that and just want to use the tools. The theory is great when you have time to concentrate on it, but people actually working in charities with limited funds, resources and time haven’t always got the luxury of that. Yes, they need to know why they’re on Twitter, but it’s hugely more important to encourage them to be brave, get on there quickly, talk honestly and see the results in action.

IOF North’s conference, expertly organised by Graham Richards, looked at exactly that, and it was a real pleasure to be involved. Jacqui, despite her nerves, gave a great presentation, and we re-created our double-act for the Q&A. It was also great to finally meet John of Bullying UK, who is brilliantly passionate about what he does, and the crew at Haworth Cat Rescue who really want to embrace new technology and were clearly grateful for the straightforward, practical advice. Best of all – for me – was Chris Garrett, who was new to non-profits but was exactly what charities need: an approachable, knowledgeable and very funny spokesman for blogging who’s used to getting financial results for companies. Even Beth Kanter rose at the insanely early 6am to talk live, over Skype, from San Francisco about how she actually went about raising $215,000 or Cambodian orphans through social networks.

This is what we need. Fewer consultants and more people who are used to the everyday mechanics of using these sites. Demystification, honesty, results. Case studies, practical advice and the death of technophobia. Well done, Graham – you achieved this yesterday. Long may it last.

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