2019 Conference Sessions

We had more than thirty sessions!  Sessions in blue have a  downloadable handout.

Opening Keynote:
Twenty Lightbulbs in Sixty Minutes:
Some Favorite New Annual Giving Ideas of the Year

Bob Burdenski, Robert Burdenski Annual Giving and Moderator, FundList

Long-time Chicago resident and CASE Innovations in Annual Giving book series author Bob Burdenski returns with a new batch of his favorite annual giving examples, strategies and solutions from the past year. From New England to New Zealand, see the institutions that pushed the envelope (and the email, the phone call, social media, and every other channel) in getting their story told and inspiring their prospects to give. Whether they were filling their pipeline or pursuing participation, see a rapid-fire rundown of who had good ideas this year.

Annual Giving and Campaigns: Putting the Cart Before the Horse
Meredith R. Howell, University of Illinois at Chicago

Universities look to comprehensive campaigns to transform their campuses and create exciting philanthropic opportunities for donors. Annual giving should play a role in campaign planning, goal setting and communications. By including annual giving in campaign planning and execution, you can lay the groundwork for cultivating your next class of major gift donors (always thinking about that next campaign), prevent having your “after campaign” fundraising numbers take a hit and maintain your fundraising momentum.

Annual Giving Hacks: Thirty Things to Help You Do Your Job Faster, Easier, Cheaper and Smarter
Meg Weber, Colorado State University and Bob Burdenski  

Meg and Bob present their favorite shortcuts and solutions for today’s multi-channel and multi-challenged annual giving director.   See the services, sites, apps, tricks and tools that will save you time, money and sanity.

Blurring the Lines: Reimagining Advancement Services as an Annual Giving Fundraiser
Ron Eisenstein & Tim Anderson, The Solas Group

How many annual fund contributions did your advancement services team generate this year? In this presentation, we will explore the many ways that an advancement services team can leverage technology to become a key player on the annual fund team. Topics will include giving anniversary emails, event registrations, predictive modeling, visual analytics, and other ways that advancement services can contribute to annual fund acquisitions, renewals, and upgrades.

Breaking Through to New Audiences: Characteristics and Solutions
Felicity Meu, GiveCampus

The days when donors would send a check simply based on their institutional loyalty are fading. Today’s donors (millennials especially) want to know that their gift is making an impact and that they are part of a community helping to move the institution forward. Felicity Meu will share lessons learned serving as Stanford’s inaugural Director of Next Generation Giving against a backdrop of data drawn from the digital fundraising of 700+ schools (K-12 and higher ed) that use GiveCampus’ digital solutions.  She will summarize the insights and best practice engagement solutions laid out as co-author of the chapter “Engaging Generations” in the new book “Advancing Higher Education” and then together attendees will share challenges and network solutions related to engaging emerging donors at their own institutions.

Building a Donor-Centric Annual Giving Program in a Decentralized World
Peter Moes, University of Utah

In 2013 the University of Utah’s university-wide annual giving efforts consisted of two professionals and a phone program segmented by college affiliation. Today, the five person annual giving team oversees a donor-centric calling program, university-wide direct mail and email, annual giving stewardship, digital/online efforts, and a leadership annual giving society.  During this session we’ll explore how over the last six years the University of Utah annual giving team compromised, ruffled feathers, boiled frogs and lead with carrots (and sometimes sticks) to build a centralized annual giving program within an extremely decentralized university structure.

The Challenges (and Successes!) In Scaling for a Smaller Shop
Torey Calvert, Latin School of Chicago

We will take a deep dive into two case studies where a development team scaled phonathons and major gift/leadership gift management to fit within their means without having the resources of a mega-institution. By using an out-of-the-box CRM (Raiser’s Edge NXT), as well as a do-it-yourself database and a couple Tableau dashboards, we will go through the lessons learned, work arounds, stumbles, and ultimately the successes in scaling phonathons and MGO work for smaller programs or larger bifurcated programs.

Passing the Torch: Annual Giving and Major Gifts
Colin Hennessy, University of Chicago

Most alumni will begin their philanthropic relationship through contact with the annual giving office. When we do our work well, we develop their inclination and passion for philanthropy at our institutions. Through our work, we will help to build a pathway to move them along to more significant giving. In this session, we’ll talk about how to work with colleagues in major gifts-specifically how to promote continuous support of annual giving when donors elect to make a restricted gift. We will also discuss ways to keep major gift officers in the loop and knowledgeable when it comes to giving societies and donor recognition all while affirming the importance of collaboration and teamwork.

Creating a Culture of Engagement and Giving
Tessa Burke, iModules

Research shows that engagement leads to giving and helps to build your potential donor base. iModules has been reviewing online giving data for the same set of 200+ institutions over the last three years and have identified some common threads for success. In this session, we will look at the relationship between alumni engagement and giving while sharing examples of email marketing, events, and online giving campaigns. Come ready to share the successes and struggles your institution has faced related to your digital engagement efforts and uncover opportunities for giving and engagement growth.

Creative Approaches to Annual Giving
Kelly Brault CFRE, Oakland University

Data drives our annual giving decisions, but creativity can get us out of jams (no budget, no problem!) and takes our work to the next level.  This session will focus on the creative side of annual giving, focusing on “brain sparks” for multiple channels and with different audiences to create your own opportunities.  We’ll provide real-world applications for large and small shops, some tips on brainstorming for your unique issues and plenty of ideas to copy and steal.

Data – Does it have to be “the More, the Messier?”
Christina Pulawski, Art Institute of Chicago and Ron Eisenstein, The Solas Group

From alumni portals, internal interfaces and self-service ticketing applications to hosts of vendors offering biographical and contact information, it’s easier than ever to build out our constituent records… or get them horribly wrong.  We’ll review the basics of data hygiene and enhancement and delve into different approaches large and small shops use to import, append, and reconcile information with our existing records. We’ll discuss approaches to identifying and handling duplicates, enhancing what we already know, and making the most of what our constituents tell us.

Dig Deep to Elevate Your Message
(and Christina’s Guidebook from her session)
Christina Nichols, MCR (Marketing Communication Resource, Inc.)

In this highly interactive session, Christina will help you dig into your institution’s “why” to elevate the message you use to solicit support. Attendees will walk away with a useful tool for digging into the story(ies) they tell.

A Donor Wants to Give us What?  Accepting, or Not, the Weird or Bizarre
John Taylor

Increasingly donors are attempting to donate unique, and not always desired, forms of non-cash gifts.  This session will focus on establishment of protocol and policy to facilitate acceptance – or rejection – of these gifts.  We’ll look at gifts of securities, as well as the IRS concern regarding related versus unrelated gifts of property.  We’ll conclude with a lightning round covering a dozen or so other forms of non-standard gifts – including Bitcoins!

Ethics in Advancement:  Selected Topics
Vered Siegel, Blackbaud

Advancement offices are obligated to know and follow rules and laws that are in black-and-white. But what happens when we encounter shades of gray? This session will highlight several recent ethical dilemmas in advancement , as well as areas without well-developed ethical best practices. What are our ethical obligations to our donors, our colleagues, our organizations, and to our profession as a whole?

The Evolving Role of Advancement Services
John Taylor, John H. Taylor Consulting, LLC

Advancement Services professionals aren’t just keypunchers anymore! This session will look at the evolution of Advancement Services over its 30 years. We will explore many of the challenges facing the nonprofit community today, and why those issues make it more important for us to be ethics and accountability gatekeepers – and help our donors understand that we are! We will conclude with a crystal ball look into at what the advancement services future might hold.

The Goldfish Conundrum: Effective Multichannel Annual Giving
Meg Weber, Colorado State University

Our constituents’ attention spans are getting shorter and the competition for their attention is higher than ever. How do we keep our institutions at the forefront in a way that is manageable for our human and financial resources? Learn how to implement a scalable and effective multi-channel approach to solicitation and stewardship using all the tools in our annual-giving toolkit (the old and the new).

If You Can’t Reach ‘Em, Text ‘Em!
Ryan Lawrence, University of California, Berkeley
Emily Neigel, GetThru

In an era of information overload, you likely find yourself in constant competition for your alumni’s attention. In this session, UC Berkeley’s Associate Director of Digital Philanthropy, Ryan Lawrence, and Emily Neigel, Higher Ed Manager at GetThru will discuss how P2P texting can help you meet alumni where they are at– on their cell phones!

IRS Rules and Regulations – What You Don’t Know Might Hurt You!
John Taylor

This session will cover some of the new issues raised by Congress.  This will include an update on the latest tax bill, including the impact on charitable giving due to the increase in the standard deduction.  We will also explore what revocation of the 80/20 rule pertaining to seating priority means for athletics – and all other seating applications.  We will then look at such topics as quid pro quo, gift dates, donor-advised funds (including an obscure IRS Notice issued in December), and private (family) foundations.  There will be discussions on donor control, scholarships, common gift myths, auctions, sponsorships, and special events.  And we will conclude with an exciting discussion of IRS non-compliance penalties!

It’s All (Office) Politics: When Good Work Isn’t Enough
Christina Pulawski, Art Institute of Chicago

Do you prefer that your work be a head-down role, with minimal interactions with other departments or colleagues? Do you believe doing a good job, and accomplishing goals and objectives, are enough to secure and promote your career? Not anymore! One of the most important components of professional success is managing alliances and relationships. We’ll discuss the challenges of understanding the unwritten rules of your workplace and navigating hierarchical relationships. Learn how to exert some control over them and find out why “politics” doesn’t have to have a negative connotation.

A Leadership Annual Giving Forum
Mike Pope, University of Chicago and Mark James, Wheaton College

You’ve got a portfolio of gift prospects.  Now how do you secure appointments, set a meeting agenda, ask meaningful questions, learn about prospect interests, ask for a gift, say thank you (or not), remember everything you just learned, follow up and then do it all again?  An open forum about all things face-to-face fundraising and the annual giving fundraisers who are getting out of the office.

A Look In The Advancement Mirror:
Results From RNL’s Higher Education Survey

Brian Gawor, Ruffalo Noel Levitz

Ruffalo Noel Levitz surveyed over 1,000 fundraisers this past summer to ask new questions about annual giving best practices, digital engagement, and other advancement work to uncover the top trends for annual giving fundraisers. Who’s using new technologies? What are the key barriers for attracting new donors? And what are VPs planning to do with their budgets in coming years? We’ll also talk about the top trends in campaigns, from crowdfunding to giving day to comprehensive capital campaigns. A statistical report on the current pulse of our profession.

Managing Our Expectations toward Millennials
Jonathan Van Oss, Pledgemine 

We all face the problem of a shrinking and aging donor file and our bosses are telling us to do something about it by reaching out to younger donors.  But what should our expectations from these donors be?  Learn about a 2018 study to determine the giving habits of the various different generational groups (i.e. Millennials, Gen Xers, Baby Boomers, etc.) and what we should be expecting from our own donors.  Also learn how institutions are attracting young alumni through effective and proven direct marketing strategies.

Moving Your Annual Giving Program
From a Transactional Process to a Relational Experience

James Kopp , Cathedral Corporation

For many institutions of higher education, the annual program remains a transactional process between the institution and their constituents. Leading with a request for support that is framed within a well developed case that is positioned in a variety of channels, colleges and universities eagerly await a response from their alumni that will ensure that the annual goal is reached: an ask is made while all await a response. Instead of leading with “what we need”, institutions of higher education, like many of the leading commercial brands, may want to first consider “what we know’ about the donor and how the case for support can be nuanced, in both form, content and channel, to inspire the donor to enter into a long term relationship with the institution. In this program, James Kopp, vice president of the Cathedral Corporation will outline how many of the leading commercial brands inspire current and newly acquired customers to develop life long affiliations with brands and how these methods may be applied to enhance annual fund programs.

Huddle Up! A #GivingTuesday Planning Session
Alex Stern and Kevin Tellie, Community Funded

Ah! #GivingTuesday, a national, noisy day of giving. You may be asking yourself: should my institution participate? If so, to what extent? Will an email suffice? What should our donors give to? Community Funded will facilitate a working session so that you can find what GivingTuesday strategy best works for your institution. Explore different event structures and walk away with a game plan!

Parent and Family Giving – Success Stories From the College of Wooster
Amy Immel and Jean Roberts, the College of Wooster

Learn about The Parents Program at the College of Wooster and its opportunities for parent involvement, as well as the College’s newly-transformed fundraising program for parents and families.

A Phonathon Forum
Georgia Brandau, University of Minnesota

Bring all of your phonathon success stories, frustrations, ideas and inspirational thoughts, as we discuss all things calling.  Caller managing, hiring, training, coaching, rewarding, new uses for your “student philanthropy team,” contact rates, pledge fulfillment, and much more.

Podcasts in the Hall (No Handout)
Bob Burdenski, Robert Burdenski Annual Giving and Brian Gawor, RNL

Join Bob and Brian for a different conference experience as they enjoy some two-on-one chats with conference speakers, sponsors, and other attendees.  Learn about their annual giving programs, strategies, and solutions — and you’re welcome to join in!   Have a laugh and learn a few things too, in a relaxed atmosphere in the Meeting of the Minds exhibit hall.
(Schedule to be announced.)

Using Strategic Engagement & Stewardship to Boost Your Annual Fund
at Small Shops & Independent Schools

Connie Molzberger, Francis W. Parker School

With increasing goals and without the resources of a larger institution, it is important to use cost-effective engagement and stewardship to help you reach your goals. In this session, we will review how Francis W. Parker School targets demographics with engagement, track effects of engagement on annual giving, find cost-effective stewardship and solicitation strategies, and use recognition programs to improve donor retention. We will review specific examples from different constituencies including parents, grandparents, and trustees and will open up at the end for ideas from other schools as well.

“Right-Sizing” Your Phonathon
Ryan Robinet, Albion College
Julian Foster, Wilson-Bennett Technology, Inc.

Description: “With continuous changes in the way people communicate with each other, the alumni call center must also evolve its methods of reaching prospects. With so many tools to achieve these goals, a strategic plan for alumni engagement must be centered upon fitting the institution’s specific and unique needs. This session will discuss phonathon methods used at Albion College to produce better donor retention, longer and engaging phone conversations, and true donor acquisition. We will also discuss some tools in the market that will help your institution “right-size” your phonathon program!

Thankin’ Ain’t Easy
Jonathan Brooks, Western Carolina University

We spend countless hours training and educating volunteers, students, and employees on the art of the ask.  But, how much time do we invest in training those same people how to properly thank and steward donors? Based on experiences and research it isn’t enough.  Thanking donors is more than just a postcard or phone call and if people aren’t trained it can cause anxiety and leave a poor impression with your donors.  And, just like a muscle, if thanking isn’t exercised regularly it will become less effective.  We’ll discuss how to educate, train, and support your volunteers, students, and employees on how properly thank your donors.

What Next For Giving Days?  – A Forum
Joey Carillo, Illinois Institute of Technology
Peter Moes, University of Utah

An open forum for those contemplating their first giving day,  as well as those looking to grow their giving day into year two and beyond.  Pick a platform, or do it yourself?  24 hours, 36 hours, or more?  Or less?  Online vs. on-campus?  External communications and internal buy-in?  What are the success stories, the horror stories, and everything in between?  The giving day seems here to stay – how to we optimize it for success?

What’s On Your Mind?
Michael Halverson, Loyola University Chicago and Elizabeth Toman Taveres, North Park University

This will be an open advancement services forum, sharing, and discussing best practices on a variety of critical advancement services topics.  Topics will be supplemented with  suggested topics solicited from attendees by email in advance of the conference.

Closing Session:
A Look In The Annual Giving Crystal Ball  (No Handout)
(Panel Discussion with Colin Hennessey, University of Chicago, Meredith Howell, University of Illinois, Chicago, Brian Gawor, RNL, Lola Mauer, Ball State University, Moderated by Bob Burdenski)

What’s coming over the horizon for annual giving fundraising, and what do we need to be ready? Data privacy, digital opportunities, changing giving methods, the quest for major gifts, business intelligence, and changing skill sets are all impacting the annual giving office. What will the Meeting of the Minds Conference program agenda look like in three years? Join a panel discussion on what’s next in our profession.