Breaking the internet with great fundraising ideas - I Wish I'd Thought Of That 2016

Added by
Sue Kershaw
December 05, 2016

Ken Burnett, founder of SOFII.

This year’s I Wish I’d Thought Of That (or #IWITOT as it’s known by the cool kids) was trending on Twitter in London on Wednesday 30th November! No easy feat for a small independent fundraising event.

The brilliant concept of IWITOT is that the presenters don’t talk about their own work, but instead focus on the fundraising of others. Cynicism is left at the door along with egos and we can all share our passion for the sector.

Rather ironically, we wish we'd thought of IWITOT as it's not our idea but came from the London event sponsors Open! The ethos of IWITOT is perfect for SOFII – the spreading of great fundraising ideas and the encouragement of young, fresh, untested talent. SOFII has also been running an audition process for three speakers places at IWITOT for the last few years called I Want To Talk At That (IWTTAT). It’s a great opportunity for tomorrow’s rising stars of fundraising to share a platform with today’s gurus.

It can get tiresome to see the same faces and the same case studies presented at fundraising conference after conference. IWITOT has tremendous variety every time. It’s modern, fun, sometimes emotional, very high on inspiration and is also very popular with younger social media savvy fundraisers leading to lots of online chatter and banter that adds to the excitement.

Some common themes emerged from this year’s IWITOT. The first was about using innovative technology to enable existing behaviour such as Blue Cross and their use of trained dogs wearing jackets with contactless payment devices sewn in (Tap Dogs); digitising the point-of-sale collection tin as with Pennies; and the use of virtual reality and immersive experiences by WWF UK with Thumbs Up For Tigers.

Another common theme was putting your donors and beneficiaries at the heart of your communications – sometimes the same individuals can be both – and not letting your organisation’s brand obscure the message. This was true of heart-breaking campaigns like Emmy & Jake’s Tandemonium for the Royal Marsden and Tommy’s #misCOURAGE.

Alfie Waldron, copywriter at Open, one of three audition winners and the winner of the audience vote.

And who could fail to fall in love with Jean Bishop ‘the Bee Lady’ who’s raised over £100k for Age UK? Audition winner Alfie Waldron of Open won the IWITOT audience vote for best fundraising idea by sharing Jean’s story.

Other examples of charities giving their donors the opportunity to tell their own story and exploit the power of social media included Knickers Model’s Own for Cancer Research (a daughter’s personal challenge in honour of her mother) and the Helen Titchener (nee Archer) Rescue Fund that leveraged the plight of a fictional BBC Radio 4 character to raise money for the charity Refuge.

Also included in IWITOT were: Bernie Sanders Barnstorming peer-to-peer, Innovista’s 2014 Annual Report,  NSPCC’s Legacy Mind Map, a chilly social experiment for Norway SOS Children’s Villages, Sightsavers See The Miracle campaign, American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, the Do It In A Dress challenge event from One Girl, and not forgetting Hoxton Street Monster Supplies shop where due to a rather inconvenient curse, all profits go to the Ministry of Stories, a creative writing and mentoring charity for young humans.  

And finally, Santa arrived at IWITOT riding a reindeer. Oh no he didn’t! Oh yes he did! NSPCC’s successful Letter to Santa campaign was brought to life by a speaker in full costume. A joyfully seasonal note to end an afternoon of fundraising inspiration.

Julia Ammon, trusts & statutory fundraising officer at the National Deaf Children's Society, won the best sign of the day.

We'll be producing case studies or write-ups of each of the IWITOT ideas and uploading them to these pages in the next few weeks so keep checking back to share more of the learning.

IWITOT London 2016 has been the seventh time that SOFII has run the format. We’ve also helped other fundraising associations run their own versions in Ireland, Sweden, France and Australia.

SOFII is a free service run by fundraisers for fundraisers. BUT it only works if it’s well-fed in terms of lots of material to share with other fundraisers on the website and gifts of money that our small team can stretch for a very long and effective way. We need you to share the best of your work.  Because if you share it with the rest of us fundraisers, we can all learn from your success and say ‘I Wish I’d Thought Of That!

Sue Kershaw, development director of SOFII 02/12/16

© SOFII 2016

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About the author: Sue Kershaw

There is a community that welcomes all fundraisers who want to learn from the best (and even a seasoned fundraiser can learn a new trick or two). Sue was delighted to discover that it is SOFII where sharing what you know can help the sector as a whole and a cornucopia of fundraising treasure is available for free. Sue's career in fundraising has included Oxfam, the Motor Neurone Disease Association, Barts Hospital, The Refugee Council and The Children's Society. Sue was part of the SOFII team from 2011 to 2019 and continues to be a supporter and fan.