The final countdown begins now: One week until AFP’s International Fundraising Conference! Every year we leave the conference brimming with inspiring ideas and connections, but this year we’re even more excited than ever by AFP’s renewed commitment to focus the conference on you—the passionate, hardworking professionals that power the philanthropic sector day-in and day-out. Every single one of their sessions promises to be informative (not to mention all of the awesome networking events and general session speakers), but here are the 11 top sessions that we have starred on our can’t-miss list:

SUNDAY, MARCH 29

  1. The Future of Fundraising: npEXPERTS Panel
    • Frank Barry, Shanon Doolittle, Steve MacLaughlin, Donna Wilkins
    • Think about it: donors are ordinary people utilizing innovative services like Netflix, Amazon, and Apple every day. They’ve become accustomed to highly-tailored, smart content in the rest of their life. What if philanthropy could provide them the same personalized, seamless experience? Each of these panelists is at the forefront of fundraising in different ways, so their discussion should unearth some exciting trends and ideas that anyone can put to use.
  2. Under the Radar…How to Unleash Young Donor’s Philanthropy
    • Penelope Burk
    • As a “young donor” myself, I’m always interested to hear what speakers have to say about reaching the next generation of supporters. Penelope Burk’s session promises to cover some interesting facets of the issue—are younger donors giving less than they’re able? How can fundraisers tailor their messaging to reach young supporters who are generally optimistic about the future?
  3. 45 Fascinating Nonprofit Statistics in 45 Minutes
    • Steve MacLaughlin
    • Data geeks will love this rapid-fire session covering nonprofit statistics from all areas of the sector, including fundraising, online giving, social media, donor retention, direct mail, and so much more. Steve MacLaughlin is always great at getting at the story behind the numbers, so this session should be educational even for those who tend to shy away from head-swimming data.
  4. Advanced Level Storytelling: How to Combine Your People Stories and Your Money Story
    • Lori Jacobwith
    • By now, most fundraisers (hopefully!) have heard about the importance of storytelling. That’s why Lori Jacobwith’s advanced level storytelling session is so compelling: she’ll share tips for not just sharing the story of your organization’s impact, but for connecting that to the donations you need to make the impact possible.

MONDAY, MARCH 30

  1. I Wish I’d Thought of That: AFP & SOFII
    • 18 hand-picked speakers from the fundraising sector have just seven minutes each to present a killer fundraising idea that they admire or envy. The catch? The idea has to be from an organization other than their own. This session will be a cool opportunity to hear the straight-talk from experts on the most creative ideas being implemented in the sector now.
  2. Love Your Job, Love Your Life: 10 Rules for a Thriving Fundraising Career
    • Shanon Doolittle, Beth Ann Locke
    • Fundraising conferences can be awesome sources of exciting, pie-in-the-sky ideas, but I love that Shanon Doolittle and Beth Ann Locke’s session on staying energized in your career promises to get real about the challenges fundraising professionals face every day. This conversation is such an important one to have if we want to keep people excited about purpose-focused work, so I’m glad to see them bringing it to a bigger stage.
  3. How to Create Inspiring and Successful Millennial Peer Fundraising Programs
    • Derrick Feldmann
    • Peer-to-peer fundraising is still an emerging tool, but it’s gaining tons of traction with the younger audience that fundraisers sometimes struggle to reach. In classic fashion, Derrick Feldmann’s session on how to approach peer-to-peer campaigns will have a great mix of benchmarking data and conceptual information on how to make the most of this trendy fundraising tactic.
  4. Analytics: A Journey of Change
    • Dennis McCarthy, Gilman Sullivan
    • Analytics can be a daunting topic, even for organizations that are already using the data to steer fundraising strategies. Dennis McCarthy and Gilman Sullivan, a high-energy duo of analytics-experts, will cover an introductory primer on what the heck “analytics” really means. They’ll also share important tips on the organizational changes and attitudes that are necessary to really make the most of an analytics program. Helpful information for all levels, from the DBAs working with data day-to-day to the leaders pushing for a data-centric approach.

TUESDAY, MARCH 31

  1. The Changing Landscape of Philanthropy: Examining Diversity in Giving
    • Dennis McCarthy, Pam Loeb, Mariel Molina
    • America is in the midst of a powerful cultural moment, and this session raises the important question: is philanthropy prepared to evolve alongside the diverse donor pool? Sharing findings from the first-ever Diversity in Giving Study, these three experts will share why nonprofits must adapt their approach to the diverse pool of available supporters—and how those that are unwilling to evolve will find themselves unable to meet the needs of tomorrow’s donors.
  2. The Donor Experience
    • Rachel Muir
    • To really improve our outreach and retention strategies, it’s important to take a hard look at why donors aren’t giving. Rachel Muir really gets the donor mindset, so her insights on how fundraisers can improve their “customer service” to retain donors are sure to be educational and, best of all, realistic strategies that we can all implement.
  3. Massive Fundraising
    • Adrian Sargeant
    • Sometimes the best way to achieve your goals is to model your work after the strategies that bring your peers success. This session will share characteristics, actions, and plans of nonprofit leaders whose organizations successfully doubled, tripled, or quadrupled their fundraising. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so don’t be afraid to make their strategies your own after this enlightening session!

And don’t forget to be a Giveolutionary!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Erin Duff, Senior Marketing Associate at Blackbaud, is passionate about empowering social innovators to change the world. She manages editorial production and content marketing for the company’s thought leadership initiatives. Erin joined Blackbaud after serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA at an antipoverty nonprofit in Austin, TX. When she’s not wading through inspiring research and writing, she teaches an adult ESL class and brushes up on Titanic trivia.

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