This is the main question I kept being asked by Directors of Development in Universities.

For a sector that is normally very open and discursive, and has strong personal relationships, I was struck by how much of a barrier Covid has been in promoting wider understanding of what is going on in fundraising. Certainly, the lack of in-person conferences has led to a shortage of opportunities for fundraisers to come together and share stories.

As fundraisers we love news, and the new. We love to hear what is happening, but tough lockdowns and the need to plough on has stopped our ability to take a breath and look up.

So we put together a couple of online roundtables to get a group of fundraising professionals together to chat about what they were seeing, what was happening, and to get a chance to learn from others’ experiences.

New People!

Some of the delight in doing this was simply seeing a whole group of new faces – even, major shocker, some people you may not have met before!

As always with these conversations, I was struck by how much we have in common as fundraisers, however old and grand, or new and disruptive your institution is.

Live Art

We thought it might be fun to produce a piece of artwork to summarise the discussions, so here they are – I encourage you to take a look.

Our issues?

If you look at both of the sketch notes, all the issues from the last year are there, from furlough to Black Lives Matter, budget cuts to fundraising successes, the joys and sorrows of homeworking, and the need to keep the good from the last year, as well as moving on.

“All we have to do, is keep talking”

This famous encouragement from Stephen Hawking has never been more relevant. I hope you enjoy the sketch notes, I hope they provoke some conversations, and I look forward to even seeing some of you in person by the end of spring. Here’s hoping!

Shaun Horan is Joint CEO of Halpin, the home of experts in higher education fundraising.