Insider View at the Association of Fundraising Professionals Conference

Guest post by Ryan Crane, Director of Development at Primary Health Care, Inc.

RyanCrane.jpgGame-changing fundraisers, networking professionals, gifted writers and executive directors all presented insights and advice at the 2015 Mid America Conference on Fundraising May 4 & 5 at the Marriott in downtown Des Moines.

Nearly 100 Midwesterners who work in the Development field — representing almost as many nonprofits– descended on Des Moines to learn best practices and trade secrets. Breakout sessions on how to ask for major gifts and how to begin a planned giving program at your nonprofit were particularly well-attended, reflecting trends in Development that focus on both those areas.

Direct mail expert Tom Ahern also pointed out, though, that most donors are in their 60s or 70s, and direct mail is still an effective medium with which to reach them.

Between sessions and after each day, participants hustled to ask each other about pitfalls and frequent stumbling blocks, including how to engage millennials and how to create dynamic events.

AFPMonopoly.jpgMonday’s lunch keynote, Marcy Heim, empowered and encouraged participants to brag on themselves a little, and to take part in a form of self-help with a song called “People Love to Give Me Money.”

The closing keynote, Adam Carroll, is a native Iowan who gave a rousing course in crash-networking, demonstrating to the crowd that a person is rarely more than one or two degrees of social separation from achieving their goals and dreams. “Comfortably step outside your comfort zone,” he urged participants.

Overall, the quality of the conference was top-notch, and participants left buzzing with new ideas, lots of energy, and a catchy jingle about how people love to give them money.

As a result of attending this conference, I am re-examining our direct mail approach, tweaking our Community (annual) Report, applying some of the new insights I learned to one of our YP events, and I am doubling down on efforts to engage my board and my Leadership team in planned giving.

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