2020 Conference Sessions

Opening Plenary Session:
Be Mindful:  All The Sessions You Don’t Want To Miss…
Welcome, Introductions and Conference Highlights
Bob Burdenski and John Taylor, Conference co-Chairs

Well-known Crystal Apple teachers, CASE authors, listserv moderators, and fundraising curmudgeons Bob Burdenski and John Taylor will launch the 2020 Meeting of the Minds Conference with a festive welcome and a rapid-fire rundown of their favorite advancement services and annual giving conference sessions and speakers to follow. Often in sync, lovingly in conflict,  and always working in support of philanthropic goals, annual giving and advancement services offices play a critical role in advancement success.  Join Bob and John as they provide a preview of the great conference sessions to come.

Closing Plenary Session:
Where We Go From Here – A Pandemic Panel Discussion
Bob Burdenski, John Taylor, Colin Hennessey (University of Chicago), John Templeman (Case Western Reserve University) and Panel TBA

This year’s conference – and a whole lot more – has been turned upside down by the COVID-19. As our now-online conference ends, where does fundraising go from here?  The pandemic has impacted one’s health family, job, investments, feelings of security and expectations about the future.   It’s a whole new fundraising world — at least for now.  What does it mean for your fundraising, your institution, your job, and more?  A closing session with some thoughts and ideas for the months ahead.

Advancement Services and Annual Giving – Partners in Data-Inspired Strategies
Lola Mauer, Ball State University

Pandemic or not, our relationships with alumni, friends, parents, and donors are critical to our fundraising and engagement success. What does this new reality look like for our ever-important outreach to these constituents? How do we wisely use reduced budget dollars on the right audiences? How do we ensure we are on the same page with our colleagues? To answer this, and more, look no further than the critical importance of the partnership between advancement services and annual giving.  With tightening budgets and an ever-increasing need to stay connected, what goes into the planning, decision-making and coordination of an academic year’s worth of communication and fundraising? What makes a great partnership? What can’t we skip? How do we continue to talk to our constituents based on their relationship with us whether that be one of leadership donor, first-time donor, lapsed donor, the new grad and beyond? What happens when the messages and audiences must be shifted? How do these two powerhouse teams coordinate and complement one another? We will discuss this and cover your questions as we prepare for an incredibly unique, and possibly challenging, FY21.

The Best of the Bunch (BOB):
Favorite Annual Giving Ideas and Strategies From the Past Year
Bob Burdenski

Awesome appeals, terrific technologies, dynamic discoveries and marvelous messages. It was a great year of pushing the envelope in direct mail, digital and beyond. Come and see CASE Innovations in Annual Giving author Bob Burdenski dump out his bag of BOB awards for some of the clever fundraising ideas of the year.

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 addition, iModules launched a nationwide alumni survey, exploring what constituents really want when it comes to your digital communications campaigns and the impact email can have on your organization’s engagement strategy. 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.

The Digital Engagement Officer – A Brief History and a Look Ahead
Bob Burdenski with Heather Allen, Cornell University

OK boomer, you’ve got too many rated prospects in far-flung places, too many phonathon student callers with not enough to do, 5G internet and Zoom sitting on your desk, and not enough mid-level prospects for your next capital campaign. Is the digital engagement officer your savior? They’re popping up in advancement offices as students, staff, and volunteers and equipped with video conferencing capability, personalized mailed proposals, artificial intelligence, prospect scoring and more. 

And believe it or not, the idea has been around for more than a decade.  In the summer of 2014, an idea first conceived by Charlie Phlegar during his time as VP of Alumni Affairs and Development for Cornell University, was realized through the piloting of a redesigned Leadership Gifts Program composed entirely of “Digital Gifts Officers” in fundraising roles. The program, meant to explore and analyze the outcomes of engaging with constituents exclusively through technology by comparison to traditional approaches such as in-person visits, cemented itself as a program in the organization its first successful year, continuing to achieve success each year since.

Join Bob and Cornell University’s Heather Allen – one of the first “Digital Gifts Officers” at Cornell more than ten years ago – for a chat about her experience, her advice and lessons learned, and her predictions on where the digital giving officer goes from here.   Is digital fundraising here for good? If you’re wondering, come and learn. If you’re a “digital engagement officer,” come and tell us your story.

Direct Mail: It’s Not Dead!
Paul Barry, Cape Cod Mail Group

Implementing successful direct mail strategies is a challenge in a multi-channel world. Dwindling budgets and staff limitations require us to think differently but we often make choices based on what our organizations have traditionally done. Even worse, we create pieces based on what we think a recipient may respond to. If this sounds familiar, we hope you’ll enjoy this informative look at what we mail and why.  We’ll review the requirements for direct marketing success; discuss messaging and packaging, look at inexpensive ways to test while challenging the perception of what constitutes good or bad direct mail. We’ll share a simple template for effective, compelling letter writing and invite you to share your own stories of successful (or unsuccessful) appeals.

Does Your Data Spark Joy?: A Data Cleaning & Reporting Journey
Torey Calvert, The Chicago Latin School

Taking inspiration from Nadine Francis of Pomona College’s “Perfect, Clean & Immaculate Data” presentation at the 2019 aasp conference, Latin embarked on their own Perfect, Clean & Immaculate Data journey. Come along with us from the tedious task of defining, setting, and stating standards of all CRM database fields to new data health reports to identify errors and inconsistencies. See how to 1) prioritize alongside regular workflow; 2) get buy-in from managers to do this important work; and 3) bring colleagues along so it actually works. Get ready for some database clean-up twists and turns along the way!  Included in presentation materials will be portions of the Latin School of Chicago Raiser’s Edge Data Definitions & Standards Handbook to begin your own data journey.

Email Marketing Workshop
Beth Hatcher, Beth Interactive

How can you take your email campaigns to the next level?  In this interactive workshop, we’ll share email marketing best practices and evaluate participants’ email campaigns in real time—providing guidance on copy, design and coding best practices to maximize impact.

Engagement and Philanthropy: Trends, Measurement, Good Practice
Ann E. Kaplan and Jenny Cooke Smith, CASE

What do we know about giving to education institutions in times of economic contraction? Since engagement precedes philanthropy, how do we measure alumni engagement? What do experienced practitioners have to say about navigating financial uncertainty?

Ann and Jenny will summarize historical giving trends and introduce CASE’s new alumni engagement metrics study. They will also present excerpts from Interviews with practitioners at member institutions to glean insight into principles of good practice.

Ethics in Advancement – A Panel Discussion
John Taylor, Moderator, With Torey Calvert and Vered Siegel

John will facilitate a discussion regarding actual ethical dilemmas that confront our profession.  You many anonymously submit your questions and issues in advance if you wish!  Topics might include: Fudging alumni participation rates; Misusing DAF gifts; Releasing donor information; Disclosing administrative fees.

Topic TBA
Georgia Brandau, University of Minnesota

Topic TBA
Colin Hennessey, University of Chicago

The Game of Donor LIFE
Christina Nichols, MCR

The donor journey can feel like the game of LIFE with unexpected highs and lows. In this interactive session, we’ll work through the “life” of our donors and present direct mail and related solutions to opportunities that impact the donor experience. Attendees will receive an “instruction manual” for the Game of (Donor) LIFE.

Go Home, Stay There, Operate “Normally”:
Virtual Advancement Services on Short Notice

Vered Siegel, Blackbaud

Did you always dream of working from home, just not like this? We’ll go over a few case studies from organizations who have gone 100% remote, highlighting what’s been working well and what has not been working well at all. Key areas of discussion will include gift processing, moves management, the transformation of pre-planned solicitations, and the role of leadership.

Intentional Steps to Creating a Career Path
Kent Stanley, Minnesota State University, Mankato

It’s your career. Is it progressing the way you’d like it to? Are you investing time learning the tools and strategies to help you get to where you want to be. Join us for a look at real-world steps on moving your advancement career forward.It’s your career. Is it progressing the way you’d like it to? Are you investing time learning the tools and strategies to help you get to where you want to be. Join us for a look at real-world steps on moving your advancement career forward.

Leading from Behind – Lessons from a Small Shop,
and What Large Shops Can Learn from Them
Elizabeth Taveres, North Park University

How do you get buy-in for change when there is a leadership gap? And when there is no clear leader, what does your own leadership look like? Can asking for forgiveness, rather than permission, be effective more than once? How can you use a culture of micromanagement to your advantage? Join me as I share what I learned working at a small institution without a Vice President and how it allowed for flipping some of our office’s working structures on their head.

Road Trips, Brains, and Grandmas:
What We’ve Learned in 5+ Years of Crowdfunding
Taylor Stayton, UCLA

Join UCLA’s Taylor Stayton as she shares some of the top takeaways and lessons learned over five years of crowdfunding and more than 331 projects. Learn how to effectively develop a comprehensive crowdfunding strategy, beginning with goal-setting and ending with post-campaign reporting. The art and science of crowdfunding will be explored through data, analytics, case studies, stories, and strategies that can immediately be put into action at your institution.

Social Media Annual Giving Hacks –
The Shortcuts and Solutions They Don’t Want You To Know 

Bob Burdenski

Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Instagram, You Tube and more.  They all offer specific value to an annual giving program – Especially if you know the smartest ways to use them.  It’s nice to push out content on social media, but how do you identify the right audiences, tailor and adapt the best multimedia messages (including video tips and tricks), organize and synchronize your delivery, and track and retain the results so you’re smarter the next time.   Join Bob for a rundown of the smart ways to fine-tune your social media, including Google analytics, LinkedIn resources for educational institutions, Facebook advertising, customized lists and fundraisers, Instagram stories, YouTube functionality, and other great social media tools used by other annual giving programs. 

Student Engagement and Education on Your Giving Day
Bekki Babineau, University of Minnesota, Duluth

You’ve successfully mastered the art of engaging your alumni and friends on your giving day, but what about your students? In this session, insights into leveraging strategic student partnerships to engage the student population on your giving day will be shared. At the University of Minnesota Duluth, we focus our giving day with three goals: Give, Celebrate and Educate. By partnering with our Student Association, we are able to rally students around two of those goals: Celebrate and Educate. We engage and educate students through a strategic partnership with the Student Association and other pillar student organizations on campus who help to plan and implement interactive activities on our giving day. Since the partnership with the Student Association, student participation in our giving day events has tripled in three years. Session will share tips on engaging students on your giving day, specifically celebrating the impact of philanthropy and donors with messages of thanks from students, and at the same time, educating students both passively and actively about the importance of philanthropy to the University and that it’s not just in the form of scholarships.

Transforming Telephone Campaign ROI
Rachel Spencer, VanillaSoft

Many organizations face a significant challenge of yielding a healthy ROI in the very particular context of telephone fundraising campaigns. With this ‘key performance indicator’ (KPI) increasingly being used to benchmark the success and effectiveness of a given campaign, what steps can campaign managers take to drive this all-important figure upwards? During the course of the session, we will look at: reducing spend; increasing income; boosting contact and conversion rates; diversification of approach; software; and much more. Session attendees will be invited to think creatively and innovatively about their calling efforts, and will leave with a clear plan of action in order to maximise their campaign ROI.

Using Data to Promote the Value of Our Work
Jon Thorsen, Washington State University

Demonstrating the value proposition of Advancement Services is always a good idea but becomes even more important during difficult periods where budget cuts are likely. In this session, we will discuss ways to attach our work to end results.

What Have I Gotten Myself Into? The Legal Ins & Outs of Donor-Advised Funds, Etc.
John Taylor

This session will look at issues pertaining to giving through donor-advised funds, and the related issues for gifts from private (family) foundations. We will analyze the curious IRS Notice 2017-73 applying to DAFs, and dive deeper into the broader issue of pledges (enforceable, conditional, unenforceable – whatever!) being satisfied through DAFs and private foundations. Coupled with this, we will discuss donor benefits associate with gifts through these mechanisms and overall issues pertaining to quid pro quos.