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Keep up-to-date on SOFII as we confirm more speakers. Be the first to book tickets for next year’s IWITOT. You don’t want to miss out after last year’s sold out event!


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IWITOT is SOFII’s hugely successful annual flagship event in London. 

In a single afternoon, eighteen hand-picked speakers chosen from the spectrum of fundraising specialists will present a single inspiring fundraising idea that they wish they’d thought of – an innovative, replicable idea that we can all learn from. But the caveat is the idea cannot be their own and must be someone else’s.


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The date: Thursday 18th January 2018

The time: 13:30 – 17.00 pm (followed by a drinks reception)


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The venue: The Auditorium, Human Rights Action Centre, Amnesty International UK, 25 New Inn Yard, London EC2A 3EA 

The audience: 250 (or so) eager fundraisers

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Click on the lightbulb to buy a ticket.

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Mark Astarita

Mark Astarita is widely known in both the UK and internationally, often utilising his experience through his involvement in a variety of charities and public bodies. Over 14 years as Director of Fundraising he trebled the income of the British Red Cross and over his career has led teams raising over £1.5bn for humanitarian causes. Before he joined the Red Cross, Mark held posts as the deputy chief executive and director of fundraising at the National Deaf Children’s Society, including a period of time as acting chief executive. 

A former Chair of the Institute of Fundraising and regularly voted the most influential fundraiser in the UK, Mark is a truly inspiring non profit leader. Mark has held trusteeships at St Joseph’s Hospice in Hackney and at Voluntary Service Overseas. In 2015 Mark was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in recognition of his services to fundraising.

Serena Castiglione

Serena Castiglione has 20 years of experience in sales management and relationship management in the corporate and charity sectors. She started her career in the pharmaceutical industry where she led business development teams at global companies Abbvie and Novartis. In 2013 she moved to the charity sector where she specialised in corporate partnerships. She is currently Head of New Markets at the International HIV/AIDS Alliance where she leads on major giving fundraising.

Serena is one of the audition winners for I Want To Talk At That #IWTTAT and is being mentored by Julie Weston, ‎Director of Global Fundraising Hub at ‎Save the Children International.

Emily Collins-Ellis

Emily Collins-Ellis is a Fundraising & Philanthropy Advisor at I.G. Advisors, helping charities towards more effective fundraising, and donors towards more effective giving. Her experience centres on foundation and major donor fundraising, and her career has spanned the mental health, LGBT, Higher Education, youth and human rights sectors. 

Emily's twitter handle is @emmielouli. I.G.'s is @IG_Advisors.

Michael Dent

As Director of Fundraising, Michael oversees the Alzheimer’s Society’s fundraising strategy for voluntary and commercial income. He joined the Society in March 2016 from Macmillan where he spent 6 years as Director of Mass Market Fundraising. During this time he was responsible for substantially increasing the profile and income of Macmillan’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning and introduced a range of new product launches including Sober October, Brave the Shave and Good Night In.

Michael is also a trustee for International Development Enterprise where he has provided governance and strategic support for the rapid expansion fundraising securing support from the EU, DIFID, Comic Relief, innocent, Coutts Bank and several philanthropic donors.  He has a Business Studies degree and an MA in marketing from the University of Portsmouth. In 2008 Michael was named Fundraiser of the Year by the Institute of Fundraising.

Rob Gethen Smith

Rob Joined Blackbaud in June 2016 in a new role to help Charity customers make the most of their technology investments, as well as to advise on best practices, data and technology strategy, and trends in the sector. Prior to Blackbaud, Rob has worked as CIO at Anthony Nolan, Southbank Centre, Tate and Macmillan to deliver joined up business and technology strategies and lead change programmes. Before this, his first role in the non-profit sector was as Head of Fundraising Services at WWF-UK. An aeronautical engineer by background, both in the British Army and also the private sector, Rob takes a keen interest in how technology can enable organisations with a strong social purpose improve how they work. An MBA from London Business School underpins his technical approach with sound understanding of business strategy and commerce

John Grain

With nearly 30 years experience of direct fundraising, John has held senior posts in within Oxfam and Practical Action, and was Director of Fundraising for Western Europe for Habitat for Humanity International. He founded John Grain Associates (JGA) in 2004 since when he has worked with clients large and small to develop innovative, sustainable and long-term individual giving programmes. He is a passionate advocate of permission based, ethical fundraising with an emphasis on understanding our donors and how best to deliver an inspiring and motivating experience for them with every interaction they have with charities. He led the recent Commission on the Donor Experience’s project into Thanking and Welcoming and last year launched the Secret Giver, the sector’s most comprehensive mystery shopping and competitor benchmarking programme.

Catherine Harris

Catherine is a Corporate Fundraiser for Above & Beyond, the charity for Bristol’s Central Hospitals. Her fundraising career has included working in higher education consultancy and volunteering at Hope and Homes for Children. Prior to starting her career in fundraising Catherine was an airhostess at British Airways and spends all of her spare time doing up her new house which is taking longer than first thought!

Catherine is one of the audition winners for I Want To Talk At That #IWTTAT and is being mentored by Lucy Caldicott, CEO of UpRising.

Leesa Harwood

Leesa began her career in the charity sector in the USA with the March of Dimes and then the American Cancer Society.  Returning to the UK at Business in the Community she brokered relationships between the corporate and community sectors.  Following a period as Head of Community Fundraising at Save the Children and then Head of Fundraising at the Dartington Hall Trust she joined the RNLI in 2009 as Head of Engagement.  Now, as Director of Lifesaving and Fundraising she leads the lifeboat, lifeguard, drowning prevention, education and flood rescue teams across the UK and Ireland as well as accountability for all fundraising activity.

Leesa lives in Dorset with her husband and their rescue dog from Kabul, Afghanistan, Moosh.  She is a keen but slow runner aiming to complete her third and fourth half marathons in 2018.

Kathryn Holloway

Kathryn started out in the charity sector processing donations at the BUAV in 2005, then became responsible for supporter care, database management and direct marketing activity. She joined Friends of the Earth in 2010 and now heads up the Individual Giving team, responsible for leading the team’s efforts to maximise income through engaging fundraising methods.

Damian O’Broin

Damian leads Ask Direct, a fundraising and direct marketing agency based in Dublin. He helps charities understand, inspire and connect with their donors so that they can raise more money to do more great work. He’s passionate about doing fundraising better, treating donors better all with the goal of making the world better. 

He is a regular speaker at conferences, probably spends too much time tweeting and occasionally finds time to write the odd blog… sometimes even about fundraising. 

Harry Owens

Harry has recently joined the UK Sepsis Trust fundraising team, and has been organising Challenge Fundraising events since his days at University. He believes strongly that the future of fundraising comes from offering donors first class care regardless of how they choose to support your charity.

Harry is one of the audition winners for I Want To Talk At That #IWTTAT and is being mentored by Lucy Edwards, COO of Open.

Daryl Upsall

Based in Madrid, Daryl has 35 years working with over 230 non-profits in 62 countries. Known for his leadership & innovation he pioneered digital fundraising and is a co-creator of what is known as face to face fundraising during the 1990s when leading Greenpeace International fundraising worldwide.

He is the CEO of Daryl Upsall & Associates SL and Daryl Upsall Consulting International SL and the founder and co-owner of Spain's leading telephone fundraising agency, The Fundraising Company SL and the face to face fundraising agency International Fundraising SL. In 2016, he and colleagues launched the integrated digital fundraising agency dgtl fundraising SL.

Daryl has spoken at fundraising conferences in over 20 countries and writes regularly for the leading non-profit sector journals. He is a Fellow of the UK Institute of Fundraising, former Chair of EUConsult, and former Vice-Chair, Center for Fundraising Innovation at the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Ali Walker-Davies

Ali has a geeky fascination for all things digital, having been Head of Digital Fundraising at Shelter and joining Open from Blue State Digital. She’s worked for clients like Google, the Labour Party and WaterAid and, at Open, is creating campaigns that deliver real results and bring about change. If you have an email journey, she’s on it.

Owen Watkins

I accidentally became a Fundraiser in 2000, and since then, I have worked for both non-profits and the agencies that serve them.  Up until the end of 2017, I was the Chief, Fundraising Services for UNICEF in Geneva.  This role leads on Individual Giving, Digital Fundraising and Engagement, Emergency Fundraising and Fundraising content and assets for UNICEF, globally. This role was the culmination of a tremendously rewarding nine-year journey with UNICEF.

Before life in the non-profit sector, I was a buyer and negotiator for a global mining corporation, working in such varied countries as Angola, Belgium, Russia and the UK. 

My three sons are large, and keen rugby players, so I am often bruised and/or limping.


Sarah Wilson

Sarah is a Consultant with leading international consultancy THINK Consulting Solutions; a long-term supporter of SOFII and a champion for creativity and innovation in the sector. Before joining THINK, Sarah enjoyed over 15 years working in fundraising, strategy development and events including setting up the events and community fundraising programme and team at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home and being part of the fundraising teams at Breakthrough Breast Cancer and Shelter.