Doing Good, by Association: Conference Wrap-Up

News | June 13, 2018

By: Natalie Zundel, CFRE, Development Director, ASCRS Foundation

We may be small, but we are mighty! Not only was that the topic of one of the great breakout sessions at this year’s annual conference in Washington, DC, but it is also how I feel about our niche profession of association fundraising. Every day, we work hard to affect real change in each of our industries or professions. On May 16th, just over a hundred of us took a day to take care of our professional selves – to learn and grow.

If you were at the meeting, thank you. It was only a success because of the experience and engagement you brought to each session. You can download pictures from the AFG Facebook Page.

If you weren’t able to attend, here are just a few of the golden nuggets you missed:

  • Dozens of members attended the conference kick-off on Tuesday night at the Courtyard Dupont Circle. Networking was so engaging, the event stretched well beyond its end time of 7:30 pm!
  • The Opening Plenary, Dianne Dain, who leads partnerships for the ICT Office at the United Nations, implored attendees to look at how engaging with technology can help us connect people and philanthropy.
  • One of the favorite breakout sessions of the day, “What to Do if Your Mission Sucks” presented by Paul Amundsen, made this oft retweeted demarcation, “Dues are things you pay to help yourself. Donations are a gift to help someone else.”
  • The 2018 AFG Benchmarking Survey was presented in a session hosted by CCS Fundraising. An unvarnished truth illuminated by the data? Not a single foundation benchmarked since 2009 reached 100% giving from members. The average participation is 6%, and exceptional organizations reach 15%. Put a damper on well-meaning board members who espouse “every member gives $10” campaigns.
  • “I first joined AFG 20 years ago, and it’s been home ever since … I really appreciate the advice and counsel, the ability to call a colleague and get a resource like a major gifts plan.” Leadership Award recipient Christine Williams, CFRE
  • Crowd pleaser, Paula Cozzi Goedert, returned for the Closing Plenary with her wry thoughts on why she ‘hates’ endowments! From a legal point of view, any time limit – even up to 50 years – is preferable to giving restrictions in perpetuity.
  • And 30 fundraisers were smart enough to spend just a week’s worth of Starbucks ($25) and stay for Small Group Coaching on professional development topics like Fine Tuning Your Executive Presence, Creating Your Own Brand, and How to Work with Recruiters. As one attendee noted when the long but educational day wrapped, “The first part of the day was about how to do my job better. This small part of the day was for me, and my own growth – and was perhaps that most valuable hour of spent in a long time.”

A huge thank you to our 2018 sponsors!

I hope we will see you next year at the 2019 AFG Annual Conference. If you already have an idea for a breakout session for the 2019 conference, take 2 minutes to submit your topic with your contact information. We will follow-up with you this summer.

 Natalie Zundel, CFRE is President of the Association Foundation Group and Director of Development at the ASCRS Foundation, where the mission is to provide humanitarian eye care to those in need. 

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