2021 Conference Sessions

Here are the sessions from last year’s 2021 MMOTM conference – check back for the latest 2022 session announcements. 

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 Session
Your Favorite Fountain-Side Fundraising Questions Answered
Live from Chicago’s Buckingham Fountain, (weather permitting) join us 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 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.

Alleviating Pain and Inaccuracies with Automation and Reporting
Christina Pulawski with Jordan Megna, Art Institute of Chicago
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.

Annual Giving Stewardship:  Where Sensitivity Meets Scale
Eliza McNulty, Stanford University
Miles Stevenson, UK Fundraising Consultant

and Bob Burdenski
It’s always been an annual giving goal to help donors feel appreciated, but only in recent years have we been able to show them lots of love in new time- and cost-efficient ways.  Join past ADRP president and Stanford director of donor relations Eliza McNulty, and a donor relationship-building fundraising storyteller from the UK – Miles Stevenson – as they discuss the importance of stewardship, annual giving’s growing role in relationship building and review a collection of Bob annual giving samples — all with the theme of donor appreciation and stewardship.  It’s stories, strategies, samples and scalable stewardship ideas in one far-flung chat.

A Data Security Forum
Michael Halverson, Loyola University Chicago (Moderator); Julia Dimick, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago Foundation, Teresa Goddard, DePauw University & Elizabeth Tavares. North Park University
As we learned in our early session, data privacy laws and responsibilities are in a constant state of flux. But at least we have laws and regulations designed to protect our constituents’ data. And while these rules may make our lives a bit difficult, they are for the better. Unfortunately, however, none of these rules have much to do with securing our data. We can FERPA and HIPAA our data all we want. But none of that is any good if someone can hack into our systems and steal our data. Or worse, hack into a vendor system to whom we have “lent” our data for appending or screening. Or worse yet, they locked us out of accessing our data, holding us hostage until we pay a ransom. This panel of experts (and bystanders) will explore this topic and ask audience members, “What have you done to secure your data lately?”

Direct Mail Recipes – Add Spice to All Your Channels
Christina Brandel, CFRE, Marketing Communication Resource, Inc.
Stuck in an appeal rut? Want to spice things up but can’t seem to find the right recipe that pulls in all your favorite channels? Join in a conversation about how to use your favorite “ingredients” to spice up all your appeals.

Donor Privacy – GDPR, Transparency and Other Lessons From Europe 
Jennie Moule, Alveo Consulting (UK)
Michael Halverson, Loyola University Chicago
John Taylor, Moderator
Jennie Moule has been bang in the middle of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) discussions for the past ten years in her advancement services work in London with UK and EU educational institutions.  John Taylor and Loyola’s Michael Halverson join her for a discussion about her experience, similarities with changing donor privacy laws in the US (including the Supreme Court’s recent ruling upholding California donor confidentiality), the likely arrival of new requirements for transparency and solicitation opt-outs, and the implications for fundraising – particularly annual giving.   What you should know now. 

Drumroll Please… Favorites From the 22nd 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.

Five Ways to Maximize Your Donor Outreach
Dr. Chad Warren, DPP, RNL
It’s about engagement. Our alumni are more than walking ATMs, and making advancement about a collaborative, lifetime relationship is key. We’ll share five key shifts that fundraisers are making to maximize this relationship, boost ROI, and long term results. The secret: it’s about more than asking. Join this session to hear how focusing on annual giving as a major gift pipeline investment, expanding communications to active engagement beyond solicitation, focusing on ease of giving, and what you provide alumni and supporters over a lifetime can make a difference. And new strategies, like P2P texting, personalized video messages, and AI personalization can help you do it. Hear about new tech and strategies that challenge the norm, and head back to your shop with new ideas to take the giving relationship beyond a transaction.

Growing Giving Frequency and Donor Value in an Alumni Participation World
Megan Karwacki, Loyola University Chicago
Education instructions lag behind their other not-for-profit counterparts in annual donor gift frequency and donor value, party because we retain a US News-like focus on annual alumni giving participation.  “Give once, and we won’t ask you again this year.”  While its participation goals remain an important metric, Loyola University has adopted a strategy of leaving donors “in the appeal bucket” in an effort to engage them in additional giving opportunities and to identify additional donor affinities.   And it’s succeeding.  Join Megan for a briefing on what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. 

Honoring Donor Intent – You Got the Gift. Now What?
Mary Weingartner, University of Chicago & Lea Ann Gross, University of Illinois
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.

How to Plan For, Strategize, and Survive Staffing Changes
Torey Calvert, Latin School of Chicago
Everyone has dealt with many changes over the past year and a half, both professionally and personally. According to Axios, surveys show anywhere from 25% to 40% of workers are thinking about quitting their jobs. When faced with staffing changes, it is incumbent on us to prepare for, facilitate, positively survive and endure after change. Join us in this session for a discussion about managing changes to be the change we want! And bring your own stories, good and bad, so we can learn together.

An Independent School Fundraising Forum
Amanda Zopp, Wayland Academy (WI)
Hannah Keller, Lake Forest Academy (IL)
Kevin Capp, The Principia (MO)
Join a trio of independent school fundraising professionals from around the Midwest for a discussion forum all about schools and the particular audiences, messages, channels and culture surrounding school fundraising. 

The Secret to Making Everyone Happy:
Tracking the ROI of Annual Giving Appeals 
Kevin Capp, The Principia (MO)
Before implementing Return on Investment (ROI) analysis of our Annual Giving appeals, many of our stakeholders were grumpy and frustrated. Specifically, the Marketing department felt like Annual Giving asked for too much and spent too much on expensive appeals. Other stakeholders like the Chief Advancement Officer, campus heads, and gift services felt the Annual Giving team didn’t have a solid strategy for continual improvement. Revenue and participation rates didn’t help answer the lingering question of whether our expensive appeals were worth the effort and cost. In 2018, Annual Giving implemented return on investment analysis and it has made all the difference. Join Director of Development Programs and Annual Giving for Principia to learn how they calculate and report on ROI with minimal effort so everyone is happy (with the Annual Giving appeal strategy.)

A Session of Sessions – Favorite Clips of Wisdom From a Year’s Worth of Zoom Conferences 
Bob Burdenski, Robert Burdenski Annual Giving
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?  

The New CASE Standards: What Was Fixed, and What Was Not
John Taylor
There are no rules or even laws that tell us what counts, what doesn’t count, and why what doesn’t count doesn’t count. However, CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education) released the latest edition of its renowned counting guidelines. These standards have existed in various forms for forty years! Our session will explore the many counting changes that clear up confusion from past versions, including counting bequest expectancies and sponsored research. In addition, we will discuss some new areas of confusion and some gray areas in counting as well as that which is cut and dried – well, possibly cut and dried from a CASE perspective but not always followed!

The On-Site and Online Giving Day – Rubbing Your Tummy While Patting Your Head
Erin Glidden, Heidi Hopewell, and Jenn McCloud, South Dakota State University
South Dakota State University has successfully conducted five giving days, including 2020’s One Day For STATE, where 4,888 donors came together to raise a total of $1,617,648 for our students, faculty, and programs.  One Day For STATE is a combination of digital fundraising as well as in-person (although pandemically-challenged in 2020) events involving the whole town of Brookings, SD.  Hear the stories behind their five-year success, and particular advice on managing two seemingly-diverging sets of on-site vs. online activities.

Opening a Donor Portal to A New Dimension (While Avoiding Black Holes)
Mary Weingartner w/Keelin Schneider, University of Chicago
Dare we let donors know our secrets? Even if they are donor secrets? Hear about how the University of Chicago has created a donor portal through which donors can see, live and in person, their own giving records – and do so without being confused!

A Reunion and Class Giving Forum
Tanya Hickson, University of Chicago
Emily Luten Maltby, Washington University in St. Louis
Hannah Keller, Lake Forest Academy
If class affinity is a strength at your institution (or you wish it were) join this trio of reunion and class giving professionals for a special forum on the subject.  Whether you have a whole reunion team (like Tanya at the University of Chicago), or a one-person shop (like Heather at Lake Forest Academy), or you’re somewhere in-between (like Emily at Wash U. ) hear how they’ve coped with pandemics (and virtual reunions), engage volunteers, set goals, integrate digital tools and social networks (including giving days and crowdfunding), keep an eye on major gift opportunities, fundraise with classes in non-reunion years, and engage alumni in addition to their giving. 

The Rise and (Pit)Falls of Incentives
Colin Hennessy and Megan Rajski, University of Chicago, Julie Knight, Carnegie Millon University
The use of “give a gift, get a gift” has been used world-wide to attract donors. Through acquisition, renewal or re-hooking the long lapsed, these tools are often talked about in small circles. Whether it be socks, a calendar, PJ pants or a re-usable straw – these carrots have a point of activation for our donors who are both philanthropic in nature and those who perhaps like rewards for that behavior. But when is the best time to use them? What are some potential wins and risks in offering them to your donor base? How do you fulfill those and how successful are they YOY? This panel of development professionals who have used them in varying degrees want to share their secrets and experience – and hear yours! – in this facilitated discussion.

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

Key Ingredients to a Comprehensive Giving Day Communications Plan
Sarah Byrd, Knox College
Feel like you’re guessing on what the right amount of communications is for your giving day? Not sure where to even begin with segmentation? Struggle with mobilizing alumni volunteers? Let’s talk about some easy wins you can incorporate into your giving day communication strategy.

Session TBA

Everything Has Changed: A Revolutionary New Approach to Advancement
Scott Williams and Colleen Cook, Vinyl Marketing
What if you woke up one day and discovered that your home was sitting on an oil well large enough that, once tapped, would provide for you and your family for generations. Would you drill?  Of course you would. It would be unthinkable not to.  Your institution is currently sitting on a wealth of data. It’s just sitting there, unused, untapped, collecting dust. And we want to invite you to learn how to drill into this resource that will change the trajectory of your institution, no matter its size.

The Centralized Annual Giving Program: He Said, She Said
Meredith Howell and Maurice Willis, University of Illinois Chicago
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.  

The “Service” Piece of Advancement Services: Building a Collaborative and Service-Oriented AS Program
Jennifer Dykes, University of Findlay
Sometimes we forget what the “service” part of Advancement Services is all about. At the University of Findlay, Advancement Services has spent eight years building not just a spirit of but true collaboration and cooperation throughout Advancement and the entire University population with areas who either depend on us or we on them. This session will focus on the steps needed to foster a sense of service with everything we touch and how those actions have improved processes, systems, and relationships.

Setting Student Fundraisers up for Success
Rachel Spencer, Vanilla Soft
Your student fundraising team carries the lion’s share of the responsibility when it comes to converting and engaging your alumni and donors. It is largely up to them to deliver a positive experience for potential donors and, ultimately, inspire them to make a financial contribution. Despite this, oftentimes insufficient investment is made in recruiting and developing the best team for the task. This session will look at topics such as; student recruitment, training, development, motivation, incentives, retention and team-building. Your students are taking on what is arguably the toughest job in the development team and placing themselves on the very front line of your institution’s fundraising efforts. With this in mind, this entirely student-focussed session will ensure that you and your team are set up for maximum success.

Ten Years of Giving Days – What’s Next?
Danielle Mason, Saint Mary’s College
Saint Mary’s College is marking its tenth year of giving days in 2021, with its 24-hour 2020 Belles Give Back campaign raising more than $1.2 million from 4,800+ donors.   How has their program grown and evolved, and where will they continue to grow from here?   As giving days have become an established vehicle for acquiring donors and mobilizing your constituents (including volunteers),  how does an established program build on its foundation?  Hear the Saint Mary’s College story, and bring your own ideas for what the next generation of giving days will look like. 

Turn Off the TV – What to Do With All These Channels
Jonathan Van Oss, Pledgemine 
Stormie Kirby Harless, Ball State University Foundation
Watch a preview of this session!

Most of us struggle with just trying to reach our donors with one channel. Now there is “multichannel” and even “omnichannel” fundraising. It doesn’t need to be as intimidating as it seems, no matter how small or large your institution is. Learn how you can reach your donors in the most effective way possible by “listening” to what they tell you through their own giving behavior. 

What is Your Prospect’s “Real” Score? Marrying Vendor Data with Real-Life Data
Bob Rickards, St. Norbert College with Teresa Goddard, DePauw University
So, you have that vendor scoring information, but how do we make it work with your data? In this session, we will show you how to take your vendor data and mix it with your data to produce an affinity propensity score that will help identify new prospective donors, spot potentially unproductive assignments, make portfolios become visual, and will update dynamically when changes are made. You will be able to find donors with high propensity and low affinity, and then develop plans to engage them to increase the chances of securing a gift. In other words, you will be able to peer into the past to predict the future!

Coming Home: Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Texting for the Return of In-Person Events
Christian Perry and Rachel Cleary, GetThru
Watch a Video Preview of This Session!
As we enter into what’s hopefully the tail end of the pandemic, colleges and universities are gearing up for students and alumni to return to campuses. This is a unique moment in time that requires a thoughtful communications strategy.  While peer-to-peer (P2P) texting proved to be an effective channel during COVID, it will continue to engage hard-to-reach contacts during the transition back to in-person events. P2P may be especially useful for this year’s homecoming season, as people reunite for tradition’s sake—but also to celebrate the recent challenges we’ve overcome.  This presentation will include a brief recap of the past year and a half and cover best practices for post-peak-pandemic communication. Lastly, we’ll offer a primer on texting for in-person events, case studies on past homecoming texting done by current GetThru clients, and a guide to accommodating each donor and event attendee, regardless of whether they’ll be visiting campus or staying engaged from their homes this fall.

Who is Counting What – and Why?
Elizabeth Tavares, North Park University
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 Megan 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.

Writing for Annual Giving – A Forum
Carol Flanigan, Loyola University Chicago
Shannon Dale, Grand Valley State University
Two Midwestern wordsmiths will lead a forum discussion on the annual giving writing process. What themes resonate? What voices do you use – including the voice of your institution’s leadership? What considerations do you make for different audiences? How do you use humor? Urgency? Guilt? Peer pressure? When do you write with brevity, when do you write an extended proposal, and when do you write for “however long it takes to tell the story?” Join us for some direction and some discussion on ways to approach your annual giving writing objectives.