2020 Conference Sessions

Here’s the program from last year – we’ll have a set of new sessions for 2021.  Stay tuned!

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), Meredith Howell (University of Illinois, Chicago), and Emily Berry (Miami University) 

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.

Virtual Opening Reception:   
Never Have I Ever – Advancement Edition!

Join us for some group therapy and an Ellen-style quiz where you can use your “Thumbs Up” button in Zoom to admit what advancement challenges you’ve faced in your career.  The mismatched mail merge?  Been there.   The angry donor who says they’re not giving any more, and they haven’t given everDone that.   Share some stories and some laughs with your fundraising peers, and get to know some of the fun folks (virtually) in attendance.  (BYOB – Recommended, but Optional)

Morning ZoomTables – Bring Your Questions and Answers
Moderators and… You!

Join us first-thing on Thursday and Friday mornings for some open chat about annual giving and advancement services topics.  It’s make-your-own breakfast roundtables!  We have some set topics, or come to a conversation that’s open-topic!
Thursday Topics: 
1) Parent Giving in a Pandemic,
2) Remote Advancement Services and
3) Bring-Your-Own Topic;
Friday Topics: 
Your Case For Support in a Pandemic,
2) IRS Deep Dive, and
3) Bring-Your-Own Topic;

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 Great Appeal Reveal:  Favorite Annual Giving Ideas From the 21st Annual Giving Appeal and Idea Exchange
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 – both pre-virus and post-virus.

An Australian Annual Giving Show and Tell
Lea Walker, Neil McWhannel, Lara Pickering, Educate Plus
Pre-Recorded Video On Demand

Join your annual giving friends from Down Under!  This Zoom meeting was recorded just a few weeks ago in Queensland, Australia by Educate Plus, and they’re generously sharing it with MMOTM attendees.   We’ve added a special introduction to the recording, and some of their members may be joining us live for conference sessions.  Watch for them, and G’Day to our friends joining us from the Southern Hemisphere!

Building Philanthropy Through Digital Marketing
Amanda Holmquist and Stormie Kirby, Ball State University Foundation

As we strive to engage our constituents while they’re on campus and once they leave, we often find it’s a challenging task. Across higher education, campus leaders are being asked to raise more money for their departments and programs. With budget cuts and limited staff, how do we tackle this challenge utilizing the resources we already have? Philanthropy has supported the longevity of universities for centuries and in this new environment will become more significant than ever. We will share the digital strategies and tactics that had people talking about philanthropy at Ball State University for the first time.

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.

Breaking Through:  How Peer to Peer Engagement Can Increase Alumni Participation
Dan Ettinger, Give Campus 

Peer to Peer Engagement… Giving Days… Crowdfunding… Social Media Advocates … Words that were foreign to most of us five years ago are now central components of advancement teams’ strategic plans. Why? More than ever, donors want to feel their gift is making an impact and they want the experience to be easy and engaging. The key to reaching new audiences is to engage donors where they’re spending their time and in a way they enjoy. Attendees will leave this session with actionable strategies that they can begin implementing immediately regardless of school size, budget, or technology.

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

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 Best Practices + Other Nerdy Secrets
Beth Hatcher, Beth Interactive

How can you take your email campaigns to the next level?  And what does that next level look like for you?  In this interactive workshop, we’ll cover both the high-level strategies and the little details that make a good email great.  We’ll take you through basic email marketing best practices, as well as advanced analytics and optimization.  We’ll also discuss new email trends in the COVID-19 world and demonstrate ways to improve performance for real results.

Participants can even get live feedback on their email campaigns, with guidance on copy, design and coding best practices!  Just email your sample in advance to beth@bethinteractive.com.

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 and adapting virtual programming and engagement opportunities during the pandemic?

Ann and Jenny will summarize historical giving trends and introduce CASE’s new alumni engagement metrics study, along with global results from CASE members as they shifted all events and volunteer engagement to digital. 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.

The Ever-Pivoting Day of Giving
John Templeman, Case Western Reserve University and Scott Williams, Vinyl Marketing

John Templeman and Scott Williams will share their experiences with CWRU’s 2020 ALL IN Together Day of Giving and discuss the strategy and marketing behind it.  The second half of the session will be an open discussion giving participants the opportunity to share how their Day of Giving went this year if it was scheduled after the quarantine order.

A Phonathon Forum – Student Philanthropy Team and Covid-19 Edition!
Georgia Brandau, University of Minnesota and Rachel Spencer, VanillaSoft

Squeezing more productivity out of your phonathon program is a very hot topic, and we’ll look at the quickly-growing job description for the students in your calling room. Bring your best tips and your biggest frustrations to this open discussion about what’s working in the phone room. Get some new strategies for improving your contact rates, pledge rates, credit card rates, recurring gifts, pledge fulfillment and more.

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.

Integrating Alumni Relations Programming Into Annual Giving Plans
Colin Hennessy, University of Chicago

Today there’s a great need for efficiency in our engagement.  How do you achieve synergy between and among all your alumni relations and annual giving activities?   Perennially-popular “Minds” speaker Colin Hennessy will talk about how the University of Chicago raises multiple boats and achieves multiple goals through its integrated engagement efforts.

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.

A Leadership Annual Giving Forum
Mike Pope, VEGA Partners

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.

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.

Prospect Management: When Less is More
Christina Pulawski, The Art Institute of Chicago

Just because you can track a lot of things does not mean you should! Maintaining just a handful of data points provides myriad opportunities for insights and views into your institution’s portfolio of prospects and donors. Whether your primary goal is prospect management or performance management, we will show the tremendous potential of fewer but more accurate data points, and address any of your other prospect management questions or issues.

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.

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.

Student Outreach to Alumni Remotely (SOAR)
Julian Foster, Wilson-Bennett Technology, Inc.

Join WBT as we discuss some clever tools and procedures that can be implemented for your students engagement officers to fundraise from their homes or dorm rooms. WBT has been utilizing this method since March 2020 as a response to the pandemic. We are very excited to share with you the results from our “remote” calling and also the procedures that helped us succeed.

Text Your Way to a Strong Calendar Year-End
Rachel Cleary, Get Thru

2020 has been quite a year, to say the least. Now more than ever, a strong showing at calendar year-end is critical to ensuring our ability to meet fundraising goals. But what if you need a little extra lift to get there?  Peer to peer texting is an essential tool for annual giving and alumni relations year-round, and can provide an extra-effective boost during calendar year-end. From Giving Tuesday to pledge fulfillment, donor stewardship to augmenting phonathon and more, there’s plenty of ways to seamlessly integrate texting into your year-end plans.  Join us to chat about what peer to peer texting it, how it works, and to take away a texting plan (with script ideas!) We’ll also share real-life use cases and best practices from annual giving and alumni relations shops using texting to great success.

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.

Virtual Engagement Events for Boomers
Don Philabaum, TalentMarks

The vast majority of your boomers are asking themselves the same question they asked when they arrived on your campus four decades ago, “What am I going to do with the rest of my life!” As boomers approach retirement, few of them have thought about the emotional, spiritual, physical, psychological, and entrepreneurial things they need to be thinking about prior to retiring. In this session we will examine how you can deliver a virtual lecture series led by top retirement authors who will offer advice, strategies, and examples on how your boomers can live the retirement they deserve.  Helping your alumni become more confident about their retirement will make them more confident about supporting your giving programs.

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

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.

Bonus Sessions

We value and love our sponsors, especially this year!   We’ve added some Zoom sessions that feature their products and services.  You’ll find details about how to join these sessions on the Bonus Sessions Signup Page.  Give them a look!

Vanilla Soft Product Demonstration hosted by Rachel Spencer

Get Thru Product Demonstration hosted by Rachel Cleary

Give Campus Product Demonstration 

Vinyl Marketing Product Demonstration hosted by Scott Williams