Plan to Learn! Develop Yourself as a Better Fundraising Professional
I am excited to be going to Boston in a few weeks for the Association of Fundraising Professionals' (AFP) International Fundraising Conference.
While my first conference was more than 25 years ago, I still look forward to this event because of its size and scope. You will find fundraising and nonprofit professionals from nearly every segment—versus a conference focused on a single sector—and I find this very enriching.
I’m always recommending this conference. If you are looking for educational opportunities, you will find the courses offered by Jerry Panas and his Institute for Charitable Giving to be of the highest quality, as are the academic-backed programs at The Fundraising School. There also is stellar content to be found at regional conferences, like the Florida AFP Planet Philanthropy.
Today you can almost drown in content, much of it quite good, through blogs, podcasts, webinars and other technology-based platforms. The biggest benefits, however, of a conference are:
- The ability to learn from other professionals
- The opportunity to mentor other professionals
- The opportunity to meet new people
- The opportunity to get away, reenergize and strategize–you think differently out of your home environment (I have filled many a napkin and notebook with plans and ideas on flights home)
If you are attending a conference, like the one AFP hosts, you will have the opportunity to choose from many topics and many presenters. I’d encourage you, more often than not, to try listening to new presenters as well as presenters working at a nonprofit (yes, a consultant said this). Map out your plans in advance so that you can then focus more time at the event visiting with colleagues.
And speaking of visiting with colleagues, think of those whom you know, and reach out to schedule a meetup. Then think of other attendees whom you might like to meet. Don’t be timid to reach out and ask for a visit over a beer or a cup of coffee.
Be strategic about your educational plans—the conferences you attend, the presentations you select and the people with whom you connect. You are investing in your greatest resource—yourself!
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.