July 30, 2015

Why I’ll Travel Across the Blue for the LCS

For this month’s Connect theme, we are highlighting some of the speakers, facilitators, keynotes, attendees, sponsors, and scholarship recipients of the 2015 Leading Change Summit in Washington, DC September 13-16.

Many of my friends and colleagues have asked why I would travel to the United States for a seminar. “There are lots of seminars held in Australia; what’s the attraction?”

I have to agree. The thought of sixteen hours on a plane to Dallas/Fort Worth Airport and then another flight to DC doesn’t fill me with joy.

The rewards, however, are boundless. Having attended NTEN Conferences for the past five years and always coming back to Sydney with lots of ideas and inspiration, I am really looking forward to the Leading Change Summit.

Americans, from my perspective, are overwhelmingly positive in outlook and expectation. When I was in the US during the financial crisis, I never once had the impression that the country wasn’t going to pull through. It was quite a contrast from much of the negative commentary in Australia, where we didn’t have a financial crisis. Our government actually gave us all $900 at that time to go out and spend on whatever we liked!

As for the LCS, I am really looking forward to pitching our new project, Gig Buddies Sydney, and getting as many new ideas, particularly in the area of fundraising—a whole new space for us!

I will be looking for innovative ideas and methods for our project to attract, engage, and retain donors, and I am sure I will discover loads of examples. The Idea Accelerator will be an ideal platform for me to test our programme.

We come from a nonprofit sector that has received block government funding without the worry about how to survive beyond each new financial year. However, Gig Buddies Sydney is not in this situation and will rely on fundraising and donations to be sustainable and to thrive.

So, we are going into the brave new world of philanthropy, and where better to get ideas than the country that leads the world in giving?

The United States has a much more developed and strong culture of donation and giving. I think it must be all those years of civics classes at school. I admire the concept that is fostered of no amount being too small and every dollar and donor being valued.

So, roll on September, DC in the fall, and an opportunity to join up with a whole group of people who work at a diversity of jobs, but with a common purpose: to make a difference because they care, they can, and they do.

Carol Smail