First Friday Fundraisers

What happens in a service industry if you give your core service away for free? Logically you would rapidly go bankrupt, yet many organisations are discovering that other possibilities begin to take shape as you help people, give things away and even allow people to share your company. In today’s blog,International Fundraising Consultancy’s CEO, John Baguley talks about doing just that…

Much of this is set out in a fascinating book What’s Mine is Yours by Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers in 2011 based on thoughts about the effectiveness of ‘collaborative consumption’ and ‘direct reciprocity’, which is really all about how we can help each other rather than compete. In the same way there is so much more many organisations can do to become closer to their clients, something I am experiencing through our free First Friday programme.

In 2008, I was visiting The Impact Hub Kings Cross with the co-owner of the International Fundraising Consultancy (IFC), Jasvir Kaur, some months before it officially opened. Deeply impressed with this stunning new concept of a workspace, I felt that we should be a part of it and its social enterprise ethos. Then I remembered the many ideas and articles that gave rise to the collaborative working concept and thought let’s try to give a physical expression to those ideas and see where it takes us.

Today it has taken us to many countries around the world and helped us develop a sustainable business model with a pro-social collaborative ethos at its heart. IFC has nine Country Directors and runs First Fridays in London, Milan, Geneva and Amsterdam.

If you haven’t heard of First Fridays (FF) or visited its Facebook page at First Friday Fundraisers you may not know that IFC runs a free fundraising consultancy meeting at The Impact Hub Kings Cross in London from 2.00pm to 5.00pm on the first Friday of every month. Anyone who works for a non-profit organisation, and who is interested in fundraising, can attend and ask questions about any problem they may have in their fundraising work.

First Fridays vary a little around the world. In Canada there are two sessions, with the experienced fundraisers or heads of fundraising departments attending the first hour and the less experienced people attending the second session. In The Netherlands, people pay a small amount to attend, and in Geneva the day of the month may change to accommodate various holidays. Most FFs invite speakers to attend and they are sometimes given just 10 minutes to set out their ideas, especially if they are suppliers to the industry with a new idea. Speakers can then meet participants at the coffee break or after the session ends.

We have found that many fundraisers really value the experience, the chance to discuss ideas and the opportunity to talk informally to a consultant. Financially we more or less break-even but we have gained some great clients from giving our ideas away and made a lot of friends. Our consultants and directors are motivated by the experience, but also learn a lot about the real situation of fundraisers around the world and they share many exciting ideas that grew from First Friday sessions.

What next for FF – well why don’t you come along and experience it for yourself, you might just lead us in a whole new direction.