Friday Schedule and Session Signup

Joining us in person on Friday in Chicago?  Please complete a Zoom signup for each session and check the box that says “I’m attending this session in person in Chicago.”    Keep your Zoom confirmation email link as a backup.  

All times are Central Time.  If you’re a member of an institution that’s registered for the Midwest Meeting of the Minds Conference, use this page to RSVP for the sessions you’d like to attend.  You must use your personal institution email address to be approved and checked in.   Session signup will be closed the night before a session is scheduled – please do not wait to signup for the sessions you want to attend.  Do not register yourself for more than one session scheduled at the same time.  You’ll receive an email confirmation with joining instructions for each session.  Note that video recordings will be available for several weeks after the conference for any sessions that you miss and still want to watch.


8:30-9:45 a.m.

DEI and Your Prospect Audiences: Building Trust Through Awareness
Rebecca Clendenen, DePaul University
with Bob Burdenski

RSVP for this session.
How’s your cultural intelligence, and where does social science intersect with fundraising?  DePaul annual giving fundraiser Rebecca Clendenen is currently a PhD candidate with an academic focus on local civil society organizations and engagement, including interest groups, social movements, and non-profits. Rebecca and Bob will talk about some of the built-in impediments to cross-cultural relationship building at our institutions, and offer some ideas on engagement strategies for new populations.  Understanding cultural identities, differences, values and behaviors is essential to building trust with our diverse audiences.   Join them for some new examples and ideas.

Honoring Donor Intent – You Got the Gift. Now What?
Mary Weingartner, University of Chicago & Lea Ann Gross, University of Illinois
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Often development staff will meet with a donor, get them to commit to a nice big gift, make promises regarding how the donation will be spent, and then dump everything in our laps to “make it so.” While this is not a session to complain about over-promising, it is a session designed to help us better understand and develop processes to ensure what we promise we can deliver. This can require integrating advancement services into processes for creating new funds and gift agreements before they are shared with donors to sign. We will also discuss steps we can take in educating benefiting units and departments regarding donor intent and that units’ responsibilities regarding stewardship deliverables.


10:00-11:15 a.m.

The Centralized Annual Giving Program: He Said, She Said
Meredith Howell and Maurice Willis, University of Illinois Chicago
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One year ago, the University of Illinois, Chicago created a centralized annual giving program, where the central office co-ordinates services, appeals and annual giving resources for the schools of the University.  We check in with Meredith (who’s the Executive Director of Participation and heads up the central giving team) and Maurice (who’s Associate Director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving for the UIC College of Engineering) to see how that relationship is going.  

Alleviating Pain and Inaccuracies with Automation and Reporting
Christina Pulawski with Jordan Megna, Art Institute of Chicago
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Databases are great, and being able to extract lists from them is even better… except for all the time and work and cat-herding to ensure the data is accurately recorded. In this session, we will review a couple common situations (the donor wall name review and leadership annual giving proposals) where automated processes, or some advanced logic in reporting saved mountains of time across numerous teams, and improved accuracy as well. Then together we will share or brainstorm ideas for other potential applications of these approaches for shops in the room.


11:30-12:45 p.m.

Who is Counting What – and Why?
Elizabeth Tavares, North Park University
Adam Niermann, UChicago Booth School
Watch a Video Preview of This Session!
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Advancement Services and Annual Giving professionals often have independent ideas about what counts – and how – when it comes to annual giving (or is it the annual fund?) productivity. So, once and for all, we hope to clear this question up in this session featuring representatives from both professions! First, we will hear from Adam on annual giving best practices when it comes to counting methodology. Next, Elizabeth will do the same, but from an advancement services perspective. And then we will discuss how both views work in harmony to achieve a common goal.

A Session of Sessions – Favorite Clips of Wisdom From a Year’s Worth of Zoom Conferences 
Bob Burdenski, Robert Burdenski Annual Giving
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CASE Laureate and three-time Innovations in Annual Giving book author Bob Burdenski has chaired Zoom conferences, moderated Zoom forums, seen a lot of shared samples and generally had a front-row seat to see who pushed the virtual envelope this past year.  Join Bob for a video clip celebration of his favorite words of wisdom and smart ideas from the practitioners themselves.  What are the success metrics for “digital experience officers?”  Are QR codes now a thing?  Who’s really succeeding with regular giving?  Did LinkedIn Sales Navigator just become the leadership annual giving officer’s best resource?  Are we all really returning to the office?  How do we build trust in spite of our cultural differences with would-be donors?  How do you grow a digital fundraising culture in your office?  How did we pivot in-person engagement to virtual engagement – and come out better in some ways?   And how have we liberated video itself as a channel? 


12:45-2:00 p.m.

Lunch break on your own.  In-person conference continues at 2:00 p.m. at Buckingham Fountain.  Sessions also livestreamed on Zoom.


2:00-4:00 p.m.(-ish)

Your Favorite Fountain-Side Fundraising Questions Answered
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Live from Chicago’s Buckingham Fountain (weather permitting), join your fundraising Friends in-person or live on Zoom to hear a collection of champagne-sipping Chicago annual giving and advancement services fundraisers tell us the inside story:  What’s it like to receive a check from Mackenzie Scott (UIC)?  Will it affect your annual giving case for support messaging?  If community college tuition becomes government funded, how will that impact community and junior college fundraising (Joliet Junior College)?  Does having a winning NCAA basketball team (Loyola) actually help with fundraising?  Does sending socks and LEGOs really attract and retain donors (U of Chicago)?   Are we all really heading back to the office (everyone)?  Ask questions in the chat, and we’ll yell them out loud.  And join us for a toast wherever you are.  It’s a fun and free-flowing hybrid finale to the 2021 Midwest Meeting of the Minds.