I Wish I’d Thought of That!

24h October 2022 by Jo Hastie

Published on



It’s less than three weeks until a unique event and great opportunity to share fundraising ideas – ‘I Wish I’d Thought of That (IWITOT)’ – takes place at AAW base Holborn Studios. This year AAW are proud to sponsor the event as Open Creates and the Showcase of Fundraising Innovation and Inspiration (SOFII) celebrate its 10th anniversary. Below we talk to Joanna Culling, development manager at SOFII, about what makes IWITOT so special.

SOFII logo

Can you explain the concept of I Wish I’d Thought of That?

As fundraisers, we are always looking at campaigns run by other charities. But we rarely get to share the campaigns that stick with us, or champion what other organisations have done and how it inspired us. We tend to present our own work when it comes to sector events.

I Wish I’d Thought of That (affectionately known as IWITOT), is a chance to celebrate the innovative campaigns that fundraisers wish they had thought of – while also highlighting the great fundraising that underpins them. But this event does it with a twist. Each speaker has just seven minutes to share why they love the campaign they’ve chosen and give a few tips or insights to help the audience incorporate elements of this idea into their own work. 

It isn’t a conference where you sit down and listen to long speeches, it’s a punchy way of presenting stories like an advert you saw whilst waiting on a train platform. You might share what made you stop right there, read the whole thing and rush to donate. And then you might take the audience on a trip through the supporter journey you went on after that first gift. At a recent event, Julia Worthington presented a partnership between Network Rail and Samaritans that she loved. Her re-telling of this campaign and associated video touched us all. It had the audience in tears and it was clear why Julia was so inspired by it. But we’ve also had the fun campaigns too. Josh Leigh presented a campaign where donors could bring a goat to a Zoom meeting. And another charity actually saw this at IWITOT, went back to their office and did a similar thing quite successfully! So it really can be a place to get an idea that you can use in your own fundraising.

How did the event come about?

The event is run by the charity The SOFII Foundation, with our partner, Open Creates.

James Briggs and Tim Longfoot at Open Creates were the brains behind this concept, and they kindly dreamt it up to help SOFII raise funds and allow fundraisers to share what is great about our sector. IWITOT is SOFII’s biggest fundraising event of the year – and it’s gone from strength to strength since 2012. We are so grateful to Open Creates for the concept and we can’t wait to celebrate our 10th anniversary!

Plus, IWITOT builds on what SOFII is all about, really.

The SOFII website was started by Ken Burnett and his late-wife Marie. It offers a free, always available repository for fundraising’s past and present, where fundraisers can come to borrow ideas rather than reinventing the wheel. It’s backed up by the idea that we are all fundraisers for the same reason: to create a better world. And the more we share what works, the more we can help raise money for the good causes that matter to us. So, if you are having a bad day, need to write a letter or annual report, or need help with a particular campaign – you can check our website. SOFII has loads of great past appeals, often written by the fundraisers who created the campaigns, and with results to show what worked. 

What kind of speakers can people expect to hear from at IWITOT?

We love to have a mix of speakers, fundraisers from both charities and agencies, with new faces in the sector and some names you might recognise too.

For our new speakers we offer mentors who help them to develop their presentation. Luckily these presentations are only seven minutes, which is a less daunting prospect for many. For lots of past IWITOT speakers this was first time they ever spoke at a conference, and it really set them on a journey of having the confidence to go and speak at other events. That has been important to us, because we love hearing the feedback that IWITOT has helped fundraisers in their careers.

How has the event developed over the years?

The first IWITOT took place in 2012 and it was always in-person. Until the pandemic!  As a result, we had to offer our recent events online only, but that has helped us grow our audience. We know that many fundraisers were interested in IWITOT before but didn’t have the chance to get to London for an afternoon. Now, they can join in and we’re thrilled to be hybrid for the first time this year!

Over the years we’ve expanded to global events, and even helped fundraisers in South America put on our first Spanish language IWITOT. There is a huge appetite for the concept, and we hope we can reach even more fundraisers in years to come.

The next in-person event is here in London (and online!) on Thursday, 10th November 2022 and marks our 10th anniversary; the fact that we are still going strong after ten years is testament to the fact that fundraisers still really enjoy the variety of content at IWITOT. It is a fantastic opportunity to hear lots about different fundraising and spark ideas you can take back to your desk.

If you want to laugh, cry and feel inspired by stories from the sector join us! For more information and to buy tickets, click here – if you use the promo code AAWONLINE you’ll get 20% off your ticket price, and if you want to join in-person use code AAWINPERSON for 10% off.