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Highlights from 2020 Virtual AFP International Conference

Updated: Apr 21, 2020

As our chapter's Chamberlain Scholar this year, Leslie Coleman was able to attend AFP's virtual international conference (ICON) March 29-31, 2020, on scholarship. She had this to say about her experience:

"I was absolutely thrilled to represent AFP of NE Wisconsin at AFP ICON Virtual in March. The virtual presentations were seamless, and all of the content was adapted to address the current times (i.e. COVID-19). I am so thankful for the wealth of information I was given and would be happy to be a resource for anyone who would like to learn more about what was discussed."

As a thank you for the opportunity, she has shared her notes with all of us below. If you have questions about any of the sessions, please feel free to reach out to Leslie.

2020 AFP ICON Virtual – Tools & Takeaways

*How Do We Speak and Interact at a Distance With Our Supporters During This Worldwide Crisis?

Presenter: Laura Fredricks, J.D.

1. Your Plan

a. It is imperative that everyone have a plan that include the following:

i. Your budget as you originally planned

ii. Where you are to date:

1. What revenue you brought in and from what sources

2. What you expected to bring in and from what sources

3. What did you not receive to date and what you predict you will not receive

4. What is your gap until the end of the FY?

b. People will give when they see the real gap and the real need.

2. Individual Giving

a. “While it is not ideal to be asking you many times throughout the year for support, I feel as the leader of this organization that I have the obligations to offer you the opportunity to invest in us again during this critical time.”

3. Corporate Support

a. Each corporation is its own mini campaign

b. “We can only imagine the decisions you and your company must make during this time of crisis. What can we do to help you? If there are any opportunities for us to partner together now, we would be more than willing to work with you as we have in the past.”

4. Foundation Grants

a. “Your foundation has so generously supported us this year with a grant of x for x. While we are most certain you are receiving numerous requests right now, may we have your permission to use the remainder of the grant for our general operations? Attached is our PLAN detailing our shortfall and this conversion will allow us to narrow the gap.”

5. Board and Volunteer Participation

a. “Take the best, leave the rest” – not every board member will help, focus on the ones who WILL

b. Share your story = fundraising

*Seven Things Every Donor Wished We Knew

Presenter: Wayne Olson, JD

1. I give to you for one reason.

a. Their passion for our mission

i. COVID19 is all about emotion – passion is a powerful emotion

ii. This period is a “great equalizer of stress and discomfort” – we are all in this together

iii. Stability is a memory – and now, a goal

iv. Donors are the ones needing things right now – they crave comfort, stability, optimism. Don’t give your donors more needs. Give them what they can’t get anywhere else.

v. Be the immovable mountain for donors – we have things to give them: reliability, comfort, positivity, authenticity, gratitude

vi. Passion Action Steps:

1. Thank you for all you have done.

2. Because of people like you we will make it.

3. What can I do for you?

vii. When this over, donors will remember:

1. Who asked even more of me?

2. Who was there for me?

3. Donors will give to fewer charities – people will remember who showed leadership and compassion

2. I want one thing from you above all else: Respect.

3. I want to hear from you.

a. The importance of communication

i. The ask is not an event, it is a process

4. At a minimum please do this.

a. Thank your donors

b. The gift is only a halfway point

i. A gift is not complete until the donor FEELS thanked appropriately

5. Please focus on my priorities.

a. Do not frame the message as “we need you” – it is all about what we can do together

b. Keep EVERYTHING personal

6. I want to be better, stronger, faster.

a. The most dangerous words we could ever say: “that’s the way we have always done it”

7. You are important to me.

a. Personal connections are key

*MORE Major Gifts

Presenter: Marcy Heim, CFRE, CSP, PLCC

1. Mindset

a. Our mindset attributes to 85% of our success

b. “We become what we think about!” – Choose what you plant

2. Three-Sentence Ask:

a. Name ______

You have (Why are you talking to ME?)

(compliment, service, giving)

You understand (Why are you talking to me about THIS?)

(special connection to this request)

Would you consider a gift of ___ (What?) for/to ______? THEN QUIET.

3. Relationship Action Plan


i. The Artful Asker Spreadsheet

*Fish in Your Own Pond: Combining Analytics and Stewardship to Raise More Money

Presenter: Sam Laprade, CFRE

1. Review data for 10 year span for best understanding

2. Treat lapsed donors as brand new donors

3. What are our current stewardship practices?

4. How to increase second gift conversion:

a. Welcome package

b. Welcome call

c. Handwritten note

d. Quick tax receipt

e. Personalized thank you letter – appeal-specific

*Key Thinking Strategies of Phenomenal Leaders

Presenter: Kim Ades, MBA

1. Demonstrate the Power of Your Thinking

a. Frame of Mind Coaching Process

i. What do you really, really, really want more than anything?

ii. What is standing in the way of having what you want right NOW?

*One Voice, Endless Possibilities Session: A Guide to Integrated Fundraising

Presenters: Maeve Strathy and Ericka Tovey, CFRE

1. Importance of integration and brand consistency

2. A Must: Integration of Marketing and Fundraising

a. Integrated donor experience – simplify and amplify your message

b. Donors who interact with multiple channels have a higher lifetime value

c. ALWAYS adapt to audience

3. 10 Easy Steps to Integration:

a. Take some pressure off yourself – integration doesn’t need to be complicated

b. Find an integration champion (board member, senior leadership, influencer)

c. Make friends in marketing

d. Take baby steps to start – do a two-channel campaign to test the waters

e. Map out your journey – make sure you’re clear on what the donor experience is NOW

f. Identify your controls – the things you know for sure (or learned from others) creatively, from an audience perspective, etc.

g. Set clear goals and objectives, rooted in insights

h. Strategy drives channels & tactics – and not the other way around

i. Ensure your creative expresses a clear problem – and a solution for donors to be part of

j. Measure, measure, measure – make sure you can prove your success

*The Top Ten Challenges of Capital Campaigns: How to Fix Them and Still Reach Your Goal

Presenters: Gail Perry, CFRE, MBA and Brian Bonde, ACFRE, MA

1. Before you start: Does your organization know where it’s going?

a. Is the strategic plan in place?

b. How do you take into account the current uncertain situation?

2. Are you campaign objectives clearly defined?

a. What will you be raising money for?

b. How much will it cost, exactly?

3. How do you build a case in this environment?

a. Take an assessment of current cash needs to be added in.

b. History, background, the plan

4. Are you choosing a consultant now? What to look for?

a. How do you use your consultant’s expertise right now?

b. Chemistry is key!

5. What if you are in a Feasibility Study right now?

a. Slow down and do the groundwork before even thinking about implementing a capital campaign

6. Dealing with (nervous) leadership volunteers and board members?

a. See above – slow down & do the groundwork

7. Silent Phase

a. Dealing with hesitant lead donors

b. Planning your donor prospect pool

8. Public Kickoff

a. Timing

b. Should you delay?

c. True purpose of the kickoff

9. Public Phase

a. What if your prospects don’t deliver?

b. How do you talk about your campaign to the public, now more than ever?

c. Go back to the first people to ask for those last bits to get over the top

10. Campaign Wrap Up and Next Steps

a. What’s your game plan for your campaign donors?


*Time Saving Tools to Rock Every Fundraiser's World

Presenters: Rachel Muir, CFRE, Rachel Clemens and Julia Campbell, MPA

1. To stay safe we must physically distance ourselves but our need for social connection has never been greater.

a. Virtual tools to connect with donors

i. Video Emails with tracking

1. BombBomb

2. ThankView


i. Shows you when your email has been opened


i. Tests subject lines for you

d. Felt

i. Digitally created handwritten cards

ii. “Write” with your finger or stylus on mobile app

e. Textology

i. Text donors from your desktop (98% open rate)

f. WiseStamp

i. Put your picture on your email signature file

2. Timesavers for Sleuthing & Productivity

a. GMass

i. Email marketing software that enables users to run campaigns straight from their gmail accounts

b. TeuxDeux

i. To-do/planning app

c. Pomodoro Technique

i. Time management method that uses a timer to break down work into intervals. Also available via iphone apps.

d. Honey

i. Free chrome plug-in that automatically finds and applies coupon codes when you shop online.



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