Was this the summer of the U.K.? The Olympics were thrilling, a Brit won the Tour De France, Chelsea won the Champion’s League. Out of all this, is there a single moment that England will pick as its greatest highlight?
Yes: on August 27th I landed at Heathrow airport and EverTrue took Europe by storm in full superhero attire!
Although the Queen couldn’t make it and 007 was dropping out of a plane elsewhere, EverTrue did have a trip to remember.
We were fortunate enough to partner with the fantastic folks at CASE Europe – Carolee Summers-Sparks and Kate Hunter – to bring the CASE Europe 2012 annual conference a mobile networking platform. It was thrilling to put EverTrue in the hands of over 1,000 delegates from all around the world, from the Bahamas to Birmingham to Brussels. We were all united in our fight against inaccurate donor data, a key issue hindering European philanthropy.
By building on top of the LinkedIn platform, EverTrue offered CASE delegates the ability to connect based on geography, school or university. Over 40% of registered delegates utilized EverTrue during the conference!
Brent and I were joined by our friend and U.K.T.I Vice-Consul David Hughson. Our trip started out on a high note as we met with James North, an amazing volunteer University of St. Andrews. In the past several years, James has built an incredible alumni chapter in London and he’s gearing up for a 2,000 attendee alumni holiday gathering at St. Paul’s Cathedral. As alumni volunteers ourselves (Brown, Wesleyan, UConn respectively) we were blown away by the growing importance of volunteer alumni leadership in the UK.
We traveled from London to the city of Birmingham, host city of CASE Europe 2012. We spent the next four nights immersed in fundraising, social media, and relationship building.
Educational fundraising in the UK and Europe is nascent but rapidly growing. While alumni giving participation averages 1%-2% in Europe (versus 12% in the US), the entire sector is committed to leading the growth of philanthropy. There was a strong sense of optimism in the air at CASE Europe. The CASE Europe team ran a remarkable event for vendors and sponsors. The ICC conference center in Birmingham had by far the best Wifi experience that we have found at any of these conferences. The vendor hall was really well attended and the sessions we enjoyed were run efficiently and well-attended.
We saw old friends and made several new ones. Catching up with Chiara Ferrar, Lori Manders, Adrian Punaks, Liz Allen, the GG+A team and LinkedIn John were just some of the highlights. We also spent time learning from Robert Fleming, the new Director of Development at St. Andrews, Ben Plummer-Powell at Oxford, Tristan Alltimes at Newcastle University Business School and Marcus Green at Leeds. We met with many people and our conversations were fantastic- what a learning experience for us!
The week concluded with a Gala evening. If we had one suggestion for CASE USA following this conference, it would be to start throwing parties! At the end of the domestic CASE conferences we’ve attended, vendors and attendees alike tend to rush out the last day. That was NOT the case at CASE Europe.
Everyone came dressed to the nines. Brent and I wore our bow ties proudly despite Daisy from King’s College London and Carolyn from Brunel accusing us of wearing clip-ons (never!). The evening started with wine and a tremendous dinner and was followed by a Bollywood routine and the best “wedding dance” we’ve been to in a while.
What is it like to be in a room full of advancement professionals line dancing to Bollywood hits? Words can’t describe how much fun this conference was. I strongly suggest that this be adopted in the US CASE Conference circuit!
The U.K. has a long way to go with its fundraising in the educational sector but there are bright, passionate people working hard to change the culture. Many of the delegates were recent graduates working in development or alumni relations at their own alma mater. EverTrue is lucky to be a part of this movement and we look forward to creating and maintaining partnerships in Europe for years to come.