"How are we changing the world?" (Engl.)
Neelam Makhijani is Chief Executive of the Resource Alliance and organizes the International Fundraising Congress, one of the biggest Fundraising Conferences in Europe. In an interview with our author Paul Stadelhofer she explains why Fundraising is more than a transaction and where small organisations can learn from global players.
What is new at this years IFC?
We have diversified the speakers and the knowledge we deliver. We do fundraising really well in the UK, in North America and in central Europe. But there is even more innovation in other countries or in small organisations that usually are not recognized as beeing innovative.
I think we can learn a lot from each other and that is also the shift in the IFC. This year we even have a session called "Around the world in 60 minutes", where we show different countries and best-practice examples from very different contexts. Also very new is the concept of our opening plenary. Our motto this year is: "How are we changing the world?" The thought behind it is, that the money we raise has to serve at the end of the day to certain needs. So we brought in several beneficiaries - even though I don't like the word - to the stage who shared their story and who explain how the work of fundraisers has enhanced their lives.
You also said in a previous article (German) that it is time to be human again. What did you mean by that?
We have to use for example a language that reflects our mindset. It is also about what we have done in the philanthropy field. Our biggest challenge is to understand each person's motivation and to bridge a gap. It is not useful to think that there are people who only have the money and people who only need it. The framework of our sector looks different. We have to understand the motivation of each one of us and the egos. That goes back to a multi-stakeholder concept and I think we can bridge that gap in our thinking by understanding our motivation. So the question is: How can we make fundraising actually not only a transaction. How can we make humans understand that we are all in this together and that we are working all together for a better world.
That leads us to the new intitiatives within the Ressource Alliance. What are you working on recently and what are your projects for the next months?
We realized that a lot of future leaders can need support in their professional career and we started to work with them in the future leaders program. The idea of it is that the Resource Alliance and our key stakeholders should be part of the career of future managers. We had 23 delegates from 20 countries on that program and it was an amazing experience. That is unique because as far as I know it is not done by anyone else on an international level.
You also created a new knowledge hub. What is the idea behind that?
We do a lot of events, but not everyone can attend them. Travelling is restricted in many countries and a lot of people can not affort to join our events. So we also wanted to share knowledge with those people as well. The interesting thing about it is that it is absolutely for free. There are almost 300 materials online already. Every organisation can now use these resources and see what works well in other countries.
Are there also any news from this years IFC which you would like to share?
There are also a few new topics this year. It is the first time we had a masterclass for future leaders and we also had for the first time an online storytelling session. But to be honest: it is the panel that realizes this event. So I am sure that there are a lot of aha moments that we can not see. One beautiful example is from a woman from Denmark we were chatting to. She came the other year and learned for the first time about virtual gifts. Oxfam was running a campaign where you could buy goats and send it to people in need. She transferred the concept to Demark and made a succesful campaign from it for her organisation.
You also created a new programm called "Emerge". What is it about?
Through this program we will work with very small organizations and with grantees of big organzsations to help them become financially sustainable and less dependent on foreign aid. So, it very much fits in with the mission of the Resource Alliance - that is to strenthen civil society globally. We are delighted to announce here at the IFC that we have partnered with the Oak Foundation to assist four of their grantees through "Emerge".