Nonprofit Fundraising Education: Filling the Conference Void
It is my favorite event of the year. I love hearing some great keynote speakers, making the rounds in the exhibit hall, sitting in on some good educational sessions (though too often they are presented by my friends in consulting), perusing the book store—and most importantly connecting with friends, collaborators, resources, prospective clients and even competitors ... and making new friends. Last year I especially enjoyed meeting so many of the #AFPTweeps!
This is by far my favorite fundraising conference for a few reasons. One is the scope—it is so much larger. Another is that the exhibit hall is enormous, and I enjoy seeing what resources are out there. And the conference and attendees are from across the nonprofit and fundraising spectrum. It's not just about raising money in planned giving, for higher education, health care, a denomination or the Y, for example. So often I find that those "segment-focused" conferences don't help you think broader, encourage the same old things and are even worse about recycling the same consultants each year as presenters.
So now that I am going to miss my favorite conference because of client deadlines and the likelihood of a few new clients coming on board and needing immediate attention, what am I going to do to stay connected and up to speed?
- I am blocking the 2016 conference now on the calendar, as well as a note to pay early registration before year-end.
- I am downloading the call for presentations-while I present regularly, I have never been an AFP ICON presenter—and I potentially could be one of those fresh faces.
- I am going to visit the AFP website each day during the conference to see what is happening, and I am going to peruse the bookstore to see what we may need to add to our firm's resource center.
- I am going to stay connected to the conference be regularly following #AFPICON during that week. I'll learn and may even make some new social media friends.
- I am going to make a list of the folks I was really looking forward to seeing and make it a point to reach out to them before and then again after the conference.
- I am going to publicly commit here to finishing my book before the 2016 conference.
- I am going to look at other conferences to attend in the next six months—inside and outside of fundraising—to give me new knowledge and perspective.
If you are going to miss this year's AFP International Conference, what will you do to fill that void? If you are going to be in Baltimore, I'd appreciate your help in keeping me up to speed on what is being shared. I'll miss the knowledge; the time to step back and think strategically and creatively; and especially miss the opportunity to connect with so many friends and colleagues who remind me how proud I am to be associated with them, to be a member of AFP and to be a member of this noble profession.
Looking for Jeff? You'll find him either on the lake, laughing with good friends, or helping nonprofits develop to their full potential.
Jeff believes that successful fundraising is built on a bedrock of relevant, consistent messaging; sound practices; the nurturing of relationships; and impeccable stewardship. And that organizations that adhere to those standards serve as beacons to others that aspire to them. The Bedrocks & Beacons blog will provide strategic information to help nonprofits be both.
Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience and is a member of the NonProfit PRO Editorial Advisory Board.