2024 Conference Sessions

Here are the confirmed sessions to-date for this year’s 2024 MMOTM conference – check back for the latest session announcements.  We will have more than thirty sessions! More information to follow about exact days and times for each session.


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

We’ll launch the 2024 “Meeting of the Minds” Conference with a festive welcome and a rapid-fire rundown of the 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 us as we provide a preview of the great conference sessions to come, and hear a special welcome from our sponsors.

The Commotion of a Capital Campaign
Kelly Lawrie, Ed.D., Ohio Northern University

Planning and implementing a comprehensive campaign is a significant undertaking for any organization – especially a smaller one with a limited budget and limited staff bandwidth. This interactive session will explore questions to consider before you even enter the campaign preparation phase and what your advancement team can be doing now to prepare. This session will also dedicate time to developing strategic relationships with colleagues who may be in the same stage of campaign planning, so that you have a network of individuals to contact during your campaign journey.
In this session, participants will:
✔ Consider questions to explore before entering campaign;
✔ Understand the basic tenants of campaign preparation;
✔ Engage in discussion about timely campaign topics and challenges you’re facing in your role;
✔ Learn from peers and exchange ideas, strategies, and contact information;

Developing a Prospect Score & Other Prospecting Tips
John McBride, School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Andrew Gutierrez, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Are you in a small shop and need a way to figure out which people in your database are most likely engaged with your organization? Are you in a big shop with a lot of resources but want to customize some of your prospecting pulls? If so, then please join us to discuss ways to create easy-to-use and easy-to-make “prospect scores” that will help you quickly identify which prospects have been engaging with you the most. Looking at data points that are most important to your organization and linking them with relative values can give you a custom score that you can use to prospect fast and efficiently.

A Digital Fundraising Forum
Megan Karwacki, Loyola University Chicago, Sarah Tews, DePaul University, Ramona Maza, University of Illinois Chicago

More session information to follow.

Direct Mail: Going Beyond the Envelope to Optimize Results
Sara Pond and Matt Sulzer, MCR

Is it time to spice up your approach? Direct mail is fundamental to building the donor pipeline, but with new channels in the mix it may be time to revisit your mail strategy. Join this conversation to discuss printing hallmarks that target the right people, grab donor attention, calendar the project, and integrate storytelling to optimize results. Attendees will receive free samples from other institutions and gain insights on:
✔ Audiences – segmenting, engagement, personalization
✔ Calendaring – channel integration, production, timing
✔ Design – photos, layout, color
✔ Packaging – envelopes, paper stocks, inserts

A DIY Engagement Center Forum
Jenn Freienmuth, Lawrence University

As the fundraising landscape in higher education shifts it may be time to reimagine traditional approaches to fundraising and donor engagement. This session will explore how to transform a traditional phonathon program into an engagement center with minimal cost. Together, we will explore the successes and lessons learned as Lawrence University turned their phonathon program into a Philanthropy Engagement Center. Bring your curiosity and your questions!

The Donor Lifecycle: How To Best Use Data & Analytics To Retain & Grow Your Donor Database
Chad Carpenter, Teuteberg, Inc.

This will be a deep-dive into the trends and best practices of how to use data to build successful Annual Giving Campaigns. With a focus on using segmentation, propensity scoring, and analytics, this session will highlight ways to “follow the data” in order to enhance your donor development efforts.

A Donor Relations & Stewardship Roundtable
Mary Weingartner, UNICEF USA and Melissa Mares Stambor, Catholic Charities Chicago

Donor Relations is evolving at a dizzying and exciting pace. This facilitated roundtable will provide the opportunity to discuss trends and explore special topics. Attendees are encouraged to bring questions, ideas, challenges, and triumphs. All levels of participation are welcome.

Email Fundraising + Digital Analytics Bootcamp
Beth Hatcher, Beth Interactive

You’ve overcome the “send sweats,” and your email is in inboxes! So what happens next? All about email fundraising, this interactive workshop will cover strategies to take your email communications to the next level—and how to leverage post-campaign engagement data to drive greater giving. We’ll walk you through the latest email fundraising best practices, advanced analytics and A/B testing. We’ll also present case studies on how emails can build a donor pipeline through acquisition and engagement. Finally, we’ll provide practical tools like an email send checklist and library of samples, so that you can begin implementing your new ideas right away. Participants can even get live feedback on their email campaigns, with guidance on copy, design and fundraising strategy! Just send your sample in advance to beth@bethinteractive.com. Join us for this instructive bootcamp—and walk away full of actionable and practical next steps to see real results with your next email campaign.

Favorites From the 25th Annual Giving Appeal and Idea Exchange
Bob Burdenski

For 25 years, Bob Burdenski has hosted an annual exchange where hundreds of institutions share thousands of annual giving innovations, ideas and success stories. 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 3-time CASE Innovations in Annual Giving author Bob Burdenski dump out his bag of BOB (Best of the Bunch) favorites for some of the clever fundraising ideas of the year.

Filling the Funnel: Engagement Centers and DXO Strategies
Emily Etzkorn, VanillaSoft

From unaware to loyal giver, your constituents travel a journey to becoming a donor. It’s your role to make sure they land in a place that can answer their questions, support their connection to your institution, and nurture that relationship. Join VanillaSoft Fundraising Evangelist Emily Etzkorn for this session, and dive into the idea that your Engagement Center can and should be playing a crucial role in not just finding one-time donors, but also filling your DXO funnel and helping each and every donor land in the correct place at your organization. Discuss donor loyalty and pipeline development, strategies for leveraging your Engagement Center alongside your DXO program, and more!

Getting (it) Out Of Your System:  Lessons Learned in Systems Selection
Christina Pulawski, Zuri Group

With technology ecosystems becoming more complex, it’s important to have the right ingredients in place – and it seems every day, there’s a new tool introduced in the marketplace. You could be selecting or replacing the CRM at the core, doing a “bake-off” between two possible communications tools to integrate, or branching out into a whole new line of business: there is no “best” tool in any category, it’s what’s “best for you,” considering your needs, culture and users. In this session, we’ll share the elements of a disciplined approach, and how they’ve been applied at different organizations.

Gift Administration When There Is No Gift Administration
Elizabeth Tavares and Kristine Buggenhagen, Loyola University of Chicago

Picture this: a donor wants to give your institution a major gift. But there is no gift agreement template. There’s no formal review process with General Counsel. Development Officers have no guidelines they are trained to follow. What do you do? Or perhaps, you run a report and learn that there is money just itching to be used but there are inappropriate restrictions placed on the gift. How do you honor donor intent and serve the institution? Join us as we share how Loyola has taken steps to improve historical models while still dreaming of a dedicated gift administration team.

Gift Processing 101 A Panel Discussion
Jess Channell-Iler (Moderator), Katherine Buggenhagen, Loyola University of Chicago, Melissa Mares Stambor, Catholic Charities Chicago and John Taylor

This “audience participation” session will attempt to answer fundamental gift processing and entry questions that have raised concerns for decades! We will begin by asking the audience to list the gift processing issues rearing their ugly heads in day-to-day gift processing. The panel will try to suggest solutions to those conundrums and reflect on national best practices. The panel will also come prepared to discuss various topics, including gift dates, receipt requirements, gift processing metrics, copying/scanning requirements, and recurring giving issues, among others. You are encouraged to email your discussion topics ahead of time if you prefer to be anonymous!

A Giving Days Forum: Extended Days, Additional Days, Giving Tuesdays, Google Analytics, Multichannel Metrics, Dean Diplomacy and More
Alison Harper, Missouri State University, and Miyoko Grine-Fisher, Lawrence University

Many giving day fundraising programs are now ten years old or more – and the timing, the duration, the metrics, the purposes, methods and more have all changed and evolved over that time. Join us for a giving day check-in: How do you (continue to) define success? What about Giving Tuesday? How do you achieve campus cooperation? What if we did this more than once a year? And for more than 24 hours? Join us for a giving day forum.

A Healthcare Annual Giving Forum (In Two Parts)
Patients, Physicians, Providers, Policies, and Pipelines
Meredith Howell, University of Chicago, Victoria Gajc, Northwestern Medicine, Alex Kwak, CommonSpirit Health Philanthropy, Andrew Gutierrez, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Healthcare institutions offer their own challenges (HIPAA) and opportunities (grateful patients, healthcare professionals, companies and the community) for annual giving fundraising. Join us for a special annual giving forum all about healthcare. Join us for a two-part forum that will share group information and discuss topics including:
✔ What does the prospect journey look like: from acquisition to renewal to major giving prospect?
✔ Using digital options to the fullest: emails, unique web landing page, ongoing impact updates;
✔ Tribute and 3rd-party giving-making the process easy and meaningful;
✔ What’s new in stewardship;
✔ Valuable vendors – Who are you using? Email vendors? Print? Business Associate Agreements?
✔ Giving initiatives: Doctor’s Day, Giving Day, Nurses Week? Do these help?

How NOT to Do a CRM Conversion
Chris Amherst, University of Chicago

In the best of circumstances, digital transformation projects like CRM conversions are challenging. Depending on who you ask, 20% to 70% of these projects will fail (and CIOs/VPs will have different definitions of failure). They start with the best of intentions, wanting to elevate our organization’s ability to reach its goals. However, several cardinal sins may lead your project astray to failure or result in a steep cost to success. Bring your questions and join us for a lively discussion on “How NOT to do a CRM Conversion”!

Institutionalizing Data
John Taylor, John H. Taylor Consulting

We would not have our jobs if it were not for data. However, collecting data is not even the hard part. Collecting the right data can be elusive, especially when those data are the responsibility of another department. The departments external to the Advancement program may not see the value in the data nor care about its condition. And even if you win those other departments over, there are data standards, maintenance, integrity, and protection details. In this session, we will emphasize the importance of data. More importantly, we will discuss what constitutes essential data and what advancement services can do independently to collect and maintain that data. However, we cannot succeed in capturing critical data alone; therefore, we will focus on fostering an institutional approach to data improvement, including the use of a Data Governance structure and the establishment of institutional data standards. Finally, we will look at key components of a viable Data Acquisition and Use Policy.

A Leadership (and Digital) Gift Officer Forum
Heather Uzowolu, Carroll University, and Meredith Howell, University of Chicago School of Medicine

More session information to follow.

Leadership Annual Giving Prospect Management and Engagement
Lindsey Pearsey, Indiana University

More session information to follow.

Leveling Up Your Online Analytics
Joe Hallissey, Zuri Group

Your fundraising is missing important data if you’re not collecting information online. Whether you’ve already set up Google Analytics 4 on your website or are just wondering what Google Analytics is, what do you do now? In this session, we’ll explore a variety of insights that can be gained from that platform and beyond, all in plain language! At the end of the day, you’ll get a better understanding of Google Analytics 4 concepts, how to find reports for key metrics, and learn ways to take your data to the next level. Come with questions an interactive discussion after the presentation.

Perk Up Your Annual Appeals with Personalization Strategies
Theresa Aide, and Kate Cominsky, Suttle-Straus

Data can be used to personalize your appeal campaigns using many variables. Let’s explore how you can use personalization to improve your fundraising results. Get 11 examples of personalized mail in this session!

Public Broadcasting’s Sustainer Giving Secrets
Alison Warren, Michigan Public Radio/Michigan State University

More session information to follow.

Records Management 101 – A Panel Discussion
Kristine Petroshius & John Taylor (Moderators), Chris Amherst, and John McBride

Please join our group of industry experts prepared to discuss your records management concerns and conundrums! We will encourage audience participation as you are the experts, too! We will come prepared to discuss topics including data governance, deceasing best practices, common data entry errors, when – and when not – to create a spousal/partner record, matching gift company management, daily and weekly data integrity edits, and whether you really need to create a new record when you receive a gift from an existing donor’s estate. While we will be happy to discuss these topics with you, we also want to review what is most important to you! We will add your suggestions to our list at the session’s opening.

Teaching Giving on Giving Day – Inside Loyola’s Student Philanthropy Scavenger Hunt
Megan Karwacki, Loyola University Chicago

More session information to follow.

Using Data to Create a Snazzy Acknowledgment Program
Mary Weingartner, UNICEF

When we acknowledge gifts from our donors, we have a huge opportunity to make an enduring first impression — and a brief window of time. Data shows prompt and meaningful gift acknowledgement plays a significant role in donor retention, but it can be challenging to pull off. This session will explore case studies from a variety of organizations with innovative data-informed programs. Attendees should expect to leave with a set of best practices and tangible ideas to elevate their own approaches.

What’s In and What’s Out 2.0: Trend Forecasters Liz and Adam Return with More Annual Giving Trends
Adam Niermann, U. of Chicago Booth School and Liz Sullivan, Northwestern U.

Our popular prognosticators from the 2022 MOTM conference return! With over 20+ years of experience between them Liz and Adam have seen many Annual Giving fads come and go. Hear their thoughts and see the data on what really works and why.

What’s the Big Deal? Key Differences Between a Call Center & an Engagement Center
Jeff Pacini, David Wishart and Kindra Samons, Legends

The future of the student call center continues to be a hot topic across the industry. The term “Engagement Center” has become a buzz word, but what does that really mean? How is it different from the traditional call center? During this session we dispel the myths, share insights, explore data and inspire your institution to evolve your call center from a “channel” to a coordinated “strategy.”

Why Data is the 4-Letter Word Savvy Fundraisers Swear By
Felicity Meu, GiveCampus

To fully flex your fundraising muscle you need buy-in from both the annual giving and advancement services sides of the house. How do you achieve the alignment necessary to drive meaningful results? The devil is in the data. GiveCampus analyzed aggregate data from 4,532 campaigns and 4,973 giving forms to identify what’s moving the proverbial needle in fundraising and what’s not. Find out from fellow fundraisers how they’re leveraging that data to drive decisions at key stages of the philanthropic lifecycle, and how they got everybody—including advancement services—to back their biggest bets. Upon completion, participants will understand how to:
• Maximize the results of their own fundraising efforts based on aggregate data
• Convince key stakeholders at their institution to take a chance on change
• Get more creative and launch bold initiatives that drive better outcomes