We are hot off the plane from IFC 2019, and it was another year of amazing sessions, masterclasses, workshops, networking and connecting with fundraisers from all over the world. A few of us were lucky enough to attend again this year and have brought back our top four lightbulb moments that really got us thinking.


William Kamkwamba (also known as The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind) was the opening plenary – and left everyone amazed and inspired. William is known for creating a windmill to power his family’s home in Malawi using a broken bicycle, blue gum trees and materials found in a scrap yard. He spoke about the power of change that one can have and the importance of heeding the call to action when it presents itself.

William’s windmill project earned him global attention and eventually led to a TED Talk that has been viewed more than 2.2 million times and recently became a Netflix film.

But something William said really struck a cord with all of us.

“Talent is universal, opportunity is not”.

The idea that there is no shortage of talent or ingenuity in the world, only a shortage of opportunity.

We couldn’t agree more.

When it comes to our day-to-day, if we could give more time for ingenuity, or let people express their true talents more, we would be surprised at what could be accomplished. Even just having the opportunity to attend a conference like IFC and spend time with, and learn from, so many incredibly inspiring fundraisers from around the world is an opportunity not to be taken for granted.


Next was a workshop by Saleem Tejani, Head of Digital Films at DTV Group. Saleem spoke about how the future of fundraising is in digital and the growing importance of video in fundraising. He provided some examples of different ways that charities can acquire donors through digital channels.

I am sure we all know and understand the importance of video in fundraising, but Saleem shared a staggering stat: 2019 will be the first year in history that social media ad spend will outperform print’ Zenith, Marketing Land 2019.

So, to put it bluntly, if we aren’t taking video seriously, and integrating it into our programs, we have already fallen behind.


Our own Kesheyl van Schilt felt privileged to sit on a panel we curated (Culture Club 2.0), and we had the pleasure of having Emily Au-Young, Founder and CEO of Reemi as one of our panelists.

Emily brought up a really strong point that, when you are in a leadership position, it is important to give power away and give permission to others in order to challenge them and run with things on their own. It is crucial that we remember this. Empowering others is necessary for effective leadership and success.

After all, true leadership involves helping others discover the sources of their own power – not suppressing it.


Our last key takeaway came from Madeline Stanionis, Principle & Creative Director, M&R during her session Creating Campaigns That Catch Fire: A Fun And Disciplined Creative Approach To Building Irresistible, Memorable, Shareable, And Wildly Successful Digital Fundraising Campaigns.

During her session, Madeline focused on three key things:

  1. The importance of ‘Knowing your audience and you get that from data’. We agree; that’s why we have an internal analytics team that drives everything we do – data is key to understanding what your donors want.
  2. Get Inspired – Find Heroes – She asked, ‘What are the moments you feel most inspired?’ and then told us to do that often. For some it’s taking a walk in nature, for others it’s visiting an Art Museum. Her team has a mandatory four hours a month to leave the office for inspiration, and she stressed the fact that it isn’t necessarily the same type of things we do to keep ourselves healthy. Now that’s inspiring.
  3. Brainstorm and brainstorm often – it is so important to keep flexing that creative muscle. Her team has one brainstorm every single day where team members can share ideas and every team member is required to participate in at least one a week – We love that!

Our week at #IFCHolland was one for the books, and we hope you found these lightbulb moments as thought-provoking as we did. We are already looking forward to IFC 2020!