Summit 2024 - Key Insights from our Member-Led Sessions

Posted on
10 Jun 2024
An Image of Emily Burke, Advocacy & Campaigns Manager of The Wheel presenting the Key Insights from the Member-Led Sessions at Summit 2024

With 12 Member-Led Parallel sessions at Summit 2024 in Croke Park this year, our members worked together to produce some valuable nuggets of insight, inspiration, and wisdom. A member of The Wheel Staff was in attendance at each of these sessions to allow us to gather together some of the most noteworthy takeaways which were later distilled and presented from the podium by our Advocacy & Campaigns Manager, Dr. Emily Bourke. We wanted to be sure to share these learnings as widely as possible so, below, you'll find a rundown of what our members came together to produce over these brief but brilliant sessions. 


Realising the True Potential of Board level fundraisers - Hosted by Boardmatch and The HX Consultancy 

The panel of experts discussed the importance of recruiting and using fundraisers to charity boards, as they can bring new perspectives to strategic fundraising plans for their organisations.  

Three main points to take away: 

  1. As an organisation, you need to understand your needs and what you want to do through fundraising, and to be clear about it! You need to think more strategically about the role of the board and of trustees with specific fundraising experience to ensure a long-term and sustainable fundraising plan for your organisation. 

  2. It is essential to create and maintain a strong connection with the fundraiser on your board, use them as they bring a different perspective. It’s important to keep supporting them, don’t leave them with the entire responsibility. If you don’t have a fundraiser on your board, you need to create a connection with your fundraiser executive. 

  3. If you are a board member with fundraising experience, use your network and trust your expertise. 


Delivering Real-Life Integration Benefits Both Local and New Communities across Ireland - Hosted by Sanctuary Runners

The Sanctuary Runners are a nationwide initiative founded on the need for social outlets for new community members, which began in Fermoy and grew from there. They offer members continuous inspiration and the opportunity to make connections with both new and existing communities. They are open to runners and walkers of all abilities, the idea being to provide a level playing field for all members.  

Three main points to take away: 

  1. Integration doesn’t happen without proactivity. A presence in a community doesn’t lead to positive engagement; you must make it happen through deliberate contact. This type of action results in improving attitudes. As an example, the Poppintree group run a bus service from Balseskin Reception Centre to collect residents and take them to a parkrun every single Saturday. Running/walking is the hook used to integrate new communities into their new local community.  

  2. Doing one small action has a huge impact in your community; it causes a ripple effect. You may be the foundation stone, or you may be a building block, but together we can create a colourful building.  

  3. Taking the time to personally welcome someone into your community allows people to feel seen and valued.  


Broadening your Volunteer Base by Embracing New Trends - Hosted by Volunteer Ireland

It has become a profession to look after volunteers but lots of organisations are struggling to fill volunteer roles post-pandemic so we need to look at new and more flexible ways to engage volunteers. 

Three main points to take away: 

  1. There is a huge diversity of people who are volunteering, regardless of gender, age, economic background, religion, nationality. Over-65s are not the highest percentage of volunteers, contrary to popular belief; embrace this diversity. We need to make sure people from migrant backgrounds can get involved with volunteering to establish roots and become part of their communities.  

  2. Key to inclusion is flexibility: organisations that can be flexible around roles are more likely to recruit and retain volunteers. Examples include initiatives like flexible timetables, offering roles that don’t require advanced English language levels, and allowing volunteers to move around between roles in the organisation over time. 

  3. Change in mindset towards flexible volunteering is the biggest step for organisations to take. This can result in lots of exciting new volunteer roles and uptake. The most important part of filling any role is developing a role description, the more defined the role is, the more likely someone is to sign up for it. 


Accessing Justice - How Pro Bono Legal Support can Help - Hosted by Arthur Cox LLP 

Law firms offer pro-bono services to vulnerable or marginalised people and nonprofit organisations who don’t have resources to access justice by traditional means. There is a community of lawyers within the legal sector who share knowledge as well as signpost and refer queries to do their best to support nonprofit organisations. Pro-bono support creates a shared relationship between the law firm and the individual that’s on a deeper level than the typical client relationship. Its a collaboration across the sector. 

Three main points to take away: 

  1. For nonprofits, governance matters can be problematic as law firms need to be mindful of the particular legal needs of a charity. A pro-bono programme ensures access to lawyers with charity-related legal knowledge who have this understanding and can provide the support needed. The growth in pro-bono hours across the law sector by, for example 400% in one organisation, in the past four years shows the level of demand within the community, but also the resources that are available to you 

  2. The Public Interest Law Alliance (PILA) are a division of FLAC and a great resource for nonprofits with a legal need. They can help you understand the legal nature of your query and put you in contact with their legal panel for assistance. 

  3. The most important takeaway from the session was "Just ask". If you need support, just ask. A law firm will do their best to support you, but they need you to come forward with the questions. There is support out there for you. 


Legacy Gifts are the Future - Hosted by My Legacy

This session explored the value of legacy programmes and aimed to provide participants with the confidence to discuss legacies with trustees and colleagues. It explored the attractiveness of leaving a legacy gift in the context of the new National Philanthropy Policy. The session showcased BelongTo’s legacy programme as a case study. 

Three main points to take away: 

  1. Now is the time for organisations to think about legacies; it's important to align legacy giving with your mission and values. Legacies are sustainable shock-proof pipeline-fundraising into the future 

  2. Importance of the question "would you like to leave a charitable gift in your will?" being prompted at the point of an individual writing a will. 

  3. Start with the tools and resources you have, e.g. make a legacy video, don’t need a big budget to get started. Also, your annual report is a very powerful tool, and an opportunity for story-telling: use your annual report so that donors know you have legacies coming in and where the money was used. This is a really strong incentive for donors. 


Climate Immersion: A Creative Approach to Climate Action - Hosted by Déanta Studio

This session asked, "How do we bring culture and imagination into our climate action?" We heard from Déanta about their Creative Ireland-funded creative climate action project, designed for creatives using immersive technologies as well as climate and biodiversity experts working with creatives who are “Fellows” on a fellowship programme. These creatives are learning and collaborating on the role of cultural activities and especially story telling in new ways learning from and with the Fellows, including data gathering and analysis of the fellowship itself. 

Three main points to take away: 

  1. Creative practices are a way to bring new perspectives on climate action and climate science. 

  2. A lot of climate communication has been top-down and a changing arts sector can integrate community and engagement practice to support bottom up needs and agency in a more climate-justice-focused way. 

  3. The climate crisis cuts across all existing silos and creatives have a role in contributing to anti-fragmentation.  


Sustaining Your Funding Model - Hosted by 2into3

Representatives from 2into3 and board member of The Wheel/CEO of COPE Galway Michael Smyth discuss strategic, sustainable, and diverse funding models for the sector.  

Three main points to take away: 

  1. Doing good is good for business! We’ve moved on from tokenistic CSR towards real collaboration between businesses and the sector to effect positive change. More developed, supported communities make better customers. 

  2. The professionalization of the sector; in terms of funding, what used to be “mostly local, small-scale, and unstrategic” is now a professionalised sector worth 18 billion a year. 

  3. Keeping organisational mission, beneficiaries, and social impact at the heart of what we do when it comes to funding. Too often people are focused on what funds they need instead of the social impact that funding will have. Funders want to know about the social impact! 


Exploring Family Resource Centres as a Model for Place-Based Systems Change - Hosted by The National Forum of Family Resource Centres

This session, run by several of the team from the National Forum of Family Resource Centres, discussed the history of the Family Resource Centre Forum and it’s role in bringing together communities, organisations, and stakeholders.  

Three main points to take away: 

  1. Importance of placed-based systems in terms of a collaborative approach 

  2. Need for stronger dialogue between the sector and government through collaborative improvement and redesign, centering on needs and strengths of individuals, families, and communities 

  3. The FRCNF envision reintegrating the community, voluntary, charity, and social enterprise sectors with government efforts, empowering communities to be active agents of change and support. The upshot of this afternoons’ session was the sincere willingness of our community and voluntary sector partners to engage in a more collaborative approach to address current challenges, from the ground up to a national level, in order to bring about this change. 


Towards a Model Regulatory Environment: A Civil Society Vision for the Next Government - Hosted by The Irish Council for Civil Liberties

This session, hosted by ICCL, began a process of “co-designing” a vision for a better integrated and more “user-friendly” system of regulation for the sector which should reduce burden for hard-pressed organisations while retaining critical controls on fiduciary responsibility and governance. 

Three main points to take away: 

  1. The sector needs enforceable statutory guidelines on freedom of expression for civil society organisations providing state services.  

  2. We need statutory guidelines across state departments and agencies for stakeholder engagement. 

  3. Governance is crucial – we need to bring together statutory bodies and community organisations to engage meaningfully on regulation. There must be a willingness to change how business is done to see real progress. It can be done! 


Co-creating a Literacy-Friendly Community and Voluntary Sector - Hosted by The National Adult Literacy Agency

Hosted by the National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA) this session focused on why it’s important that we in the community and voluntary sector take a literacy-friendly approach to our work, and what practical steps we can take to bring that about. Participants in the group were interested in family and community literacy and intergenerational effects of literacy issues, alongside advocacy to make changes to how public services are delivered and made more literacy friendly.  

Three main points to take away:                                      

  1. We heard from literacy ambassador Michael Duffy about the transformative power of literacy supports - Michael is an active board member of a number of charities in his local area, demonstrating the ripple effect on communities of supporting people with literacy, numeracy and digital literacy needs.  

  2. We heard from Aoife Crawford, Research and Policy Officer with NALA on the results of exploratory research that The Wheel and NALA carried out in 2023 into literacy, numeracy and digital literacy needs amongst staff and volunteers in our sector.  

  3. Derv Ryan, literacy development and outreach worker with NALA, gave us examples of how organisations in our sector can take a literacy friendly approach, from making sure you have a phone number that people can call for information to using Plain English in our written materials. 


What Does the Public Really Think of Charities? - Hosted by We Act

This session presented research conducted by the We Act campaign on public perception of charities and community groups, and discussed practical ways to use this information in our organisations and when working with client’s, supporters, and the wider community. 

Three main points to take away: 

  1. 72% say they trust charities and community groups, and charities and community groups poll just after Schools and the Garda and before the Civil Service. 

  2. There is a big appetite for storytelling as a form of media. It generates very positive engagement from people, and it is a great way for a charity to build trust with the public. 

  3. Overall perception of the sector is better than we might think, but there is still a lack of awareness on the expanse of the sector and the personal value in being a part of it.  Only 15% of people say they have personally benefitted from charities, and 52% think that in an ideal world we would not have volunteers. 


Developing and Realising the Potential of Social Enterprise in Ireland - Hosted by The Department of Rural and Community Development

In December 2023, the Department of Rural and Community Development launched a public consultation for the second national social enterprise policy. This session highlighted the role and importance of social enterprise in Ireland today and provided an update on the second National Social Enterprise Policy, focusing on the five thematic objectives addressed. 

Three main points to take away: 

  1. Last year did baseline data collection exercise | will be repeated  | very diverse sector from orgs that will always need gov support to orgs that purely live off their own earned income | all have profit for purpose in common 

  2. Young people to get involved of social enterprise as a career – how do we incentivise this? Look at models where some profit can be withdrawn 

  3. How critical are LAs and LEOs?– particularly LEOs are critical; they see themselves as focusing more on international potential and profit-driven | now making good headway with Department of Enterprise – there remains challenge of where economic activity starts and finishes – need to keep chipping away