Posted by & filed under Congress, Direct Mail, Marketing/Communications, Stewardship/Donor Relations.

Gord Muschett
Partner, The Donnée Group

Direct mail’s dead right? Better sign up for those 47 sessions on social marketing with your pet, your doctor, the environment and anyone else who may have a stake in your fundraising career, yes? Maybe. 

Or maybe you should attend a session that may help you do a better job of tapping into those revenues that are, you know, actually paying the bills. How much money did that last Facebook campaign raise for you? Lots of folks clicking on your QR codes? 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a ‘living in the seventies’ direct mail dinosaur. In fact, I’ve been living the online world before a couple of you were even born. I guess that’s why I have a tough time shaking that healthy skepticism towards marketers pitching the latest gimmick that’ll lead you to fundraising nirvana. 

Let me ask – do you bank on your cellphone? Back in 2000, I was front and centre during the dot-com boom with Canada’s stock market darling, 724 Solutions. Here’s a clip from the news on the day of their IPO: 

There’s a new kid in town on Nasdaq– and the kid is from Canada. The company’s name is 724 Solutions and it’s going public at a time when investors are hungry for fresh high-tech stories, especially in the high-demand field of wireless communications.  The 6 million shares that made up the company’s first stock offering surged Friday, the first unofficial day of trading, to $71.81 US on Nasdaq and $103.50 in Toronto.  

And here’s a more recent clip: 

  • Nasdaq 5,000: 10 years later
  • Flashback: The tech bubble was about to burst
  • Remember these stocks?

 724 Solutions, a network and data service company, was regularly gaining $20 a share back then, pushing the stock price of the former dot-com darling close to $300. By 2006, the stock was delisted from the Nasdaq.

Why the financial history lesson on a fundraising conference blog? I think it’s a lesson you should remember when selecting sessions for this year’s outstanding AFP Conference. Fads come and go. Ten years ago, people were making millions on a bet that the world was going to bank through their wireless device. To this day that hasn’t happened and some people lost their shirts (and pants) because of it. 

So “The Winning Test” session at this year’s AFP is going to introduce you to some things you perhaps didn’t know about your bread and butter direct mail program. Myths may be debunked or confirmed. Testing best practices will be reviewed. And you’ll get to have your vote in a fun way on the tests you think are the winners.

But most of all, you may learn something that may help you in a way that chasing the latest fad may not. You’ll learn something that will help your organization raise more money.

Look forward to seeing you there…

Gord Muschett will be presenting “The Winning Test” at AFP Congress 2011 

Posted by & filed under Congress, Leadership/Management.

Jane Griffith, MA
Principal & Fundraising Practice Leader, Odgers Berndtson Executive Search

Many job searches for fundraising executives are now being lead by professional search firms. This is a somewhat new experience for Fundraising executives, and many have questions about how the process works. What are the key skills and experiences that recruiters are looking for in fundraising executives? How do your structure your CV so that it highlights your personal successes, as well as your goals and aspirations? Should you post your information on sites such as LinkedIn? And how do you engage in a conversation with a recruiter – what are the do’s and do not’s? My session entitled “Speaking the Language of the Recruiter” will help answer these, and other, questions and provide some guidance about how the executive search process is completed. In the time leading up to this session, the AFP Congress Blog offers us a spot to start this conversation. I look forward to exchanging ideas with many of you here on the blog, and at my session.

Jane Griffith will presenting “The Next Generation of Non-Profit Leaders: Recruiting and Keeping the Best New Talent” at AFP Congress 2011 

Posted by & filed under Congress.

Ann Rosenfield, CFRE
Executive Director, The WoodGreen Foundation

In case you haven’t guessed, I love Congress. Have loved it since the first one. There are many reasons to love Congress but one of them is actually the vendors. There was this Dilbert cartoon about “Friendors” – half vendor/half friend. Needless to day, Scott Adams had a very funny, slightly twisted point of view.

However, I find that vendors really are an incredibly useful resource – after all, while my problem seems just intractable to me, vendors are always “oh, that problem, well in the other 497 charities, I have seen the following 3 three things work really well.”

I also find that many vendors are willing to let me hire them for just a day or half day to help work through a problem. As a small fundraising shop, that can be an economical way to get the expertise I need without breaking the bank.

Which brings me to my beloved Friendor, Pam Gignac. Pam is a 3 for 1 deal because she has expertise in prospect research, Raiser’s Edge and fundraising. I have known Pam since forever and every year at Congress we catch up on kids, life, and data.

So the reason I knew that Pam was the solution to the problem I was facing (curse you complex list extraction) was because I had bumped into Jeff (her lovely spouse) when he was a vendor at Fundraising Day. Seeing Jeff, helped me connect the dots on how to solve my problem.

See, if you walk the vendor aisle, not only can you get a year’s supply of free pens and your body weight in chocolate, you can also reconnect with vendors, bounce a quick idea off of them and who knows, maybe even hire them to solve a problem (bless you, Pam for sorting out that fiendish list extraction).

Ann Rosenfield, MBA, CFRE is the Executive Director of the WoodGreen Foundation and is a big believer in the strategic, selective use of expert advice.

Posted by & filed under Congress, Financial/Legal.

Kate Lazier, LL.B.
Partner, Miller Thomson LLP

Over the last few years the public has been hungering for more information on charities.  As a fundraiser it is important to know what information is publicly available about your charity.

Congress has a wealth of information to help fundraisers and in my session we will examine the various sources of information that are available to your donors and the media.  For those who want to get a head start on looking into their charity’s public image, the CRA’s website has a searchable listing of registered charities.  This website provides instant access to information, including:

  • a charity’s name,
  • address,
  • contact information,
  • registration number,
  • designation (charitable organization, public foundation, or private foundation), and
  • T3010 information returns for past years (which includes the names of directors or trustees, finances, fundraising costs and employee salaries).

It is a good idea to check out the charity’s listing and ensure the information is accurate.

Kate Lazier of Miller Thomson LLP will be speaking at AFP Congress 2011 on “Maintaining a Stellar Public Image”

Posted by & filed under Congress, Speakers, Stewardship/Donor Relations.

Aspinall, SiobhanSiobhan Aspinall
Fundraising Consultant, David Suzuki Foundation

When I can’t sleep at night, I blame Imagine Canada’s Sector Monitor reports. They do a fantastic job of illustrating the many challenges we face today. Donor prospecting, gift renewals and gift upgrades take place year-round at break-neck speed just to keep up with inflation, donor churn and programming needs. For many of us this frenzy of activity is happening with fewer staff and greater competition than in previous years. Does this ring a bell?

We are all told in Fundraising 101 that the secret to controlling the frenzy is to reduce donor turnover but despite the well-known costs of donor churn, the push for many fundraisers today is to spend our time closing gifts, not stewarding those already in the door. As a result, it seems like stewardship receives less attention and investment than it should. Even worse, I often see stewardship taking second place to its flashier cousin “recognition”. I have spent countless hours with groups who agonize over where to list donors’ names and how many tchotchkes they should get for various giving levels. Half the time this recognition isn’t worth the glue it took to stick it on the donor wall. Recognition may sweeten the ask, but stewardship is what grows the relationship and keeps the gifts coming. 

As a bit of a stewardship junkie, I’m looking forward to this year’s congress to share my collection of innovative approaches and swap ideas with the other participants. See you there! 

Siobhan is currently working in major gifts for Junior Achievement and the David Suzuki Foundation. She will be speaking at Congress 2011 on “Stewardship – Beyond the Donor Wall.”

Posted by & filed under Congress, Speakers.

Ann Rosenfield, CFRE
Executive Director, The WoodGreen Foundation

I am not actually an expert in everything. Even in the things where I am an expert, sometimes I need a  second opinion or a different perspective.  That’s why Congress is great – it is a wonderful chance to meet other fundraising and trade ideas. 

My friend Mary McPherson and I have come up with a great way to make every day a Congress Day – we call it Knowledge Exchange.

The idea behind Knowledge Exchange is simple – I come to your charity and give you training on a topic of my expertise that you want to learn.  Then you return the favour by coming to my charity and doing the same.  The host charity buys the speaker lunch and pays for parking.  It is cheap as dirt, dead simple, and really works. 

We did a Knowledge Exchange over the summer – not only did we learn more, one of the unanticipated benefits was that we ended up doing some joint problem solving.  We found we had some common questions and a quick conversation led to a solution for both of us.

And the best way to get started on your own Knowledge Exchange is to come to Congress and find a Knowledge Exchange buddy help you over the next year.   

Knowledge Exchange is one way –  How do you make Congress learning last all  year long?

Ann is the Executive Director of the WoodGreen Foundation. She will be speaking at Congress 2011 on “Small Shop, Big Success.”

Posted by & filed under Congress, Diversity, Speakers.

In June Statistics Canada released a study called “Projected trends to 2031 for the Canadian labour force”, as part of the Canadian Economic Observer.  The study says that by 2031, roughly one in every three people in the labour force could be foreign born. Between 1991 and 2006, the percentage of foreign-born people in the labour force rose from 18.5% to 21.2%. If recent immigration levels were to continue, that proportion is projected to reach almost 33% in 2031, according to most scenarios.

How will this shift in demographics affect fundraising?  Can you afford to ignore this trend?  Come to the Congress session called “Cultivating Strategic Relationships with New Immigrant Communities”, to learn more about a group that will represent 1 in 3 in the not too distant future.  The report is here: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/110817/dq110817b-eng.htm.

Posted by & filed under Congress, Registration.

Do you have opinions, thoughts, ideas on how to improve the delegate experience at the annual AFP Congress? If so, we want to hear from you!

We are looking for 30-40 people to participate in one of two upcoming 75-minute focus group sessions. We are looking for a diverse group of
participants who have attended Congress: 1) never; 2) once; or 3) five times or more. Read more »

Posted by & filed under Congress.

Denny Young

Denny Young

This year at Congress you’ll find it easier to create a learning experience that suits your individual objectives.  Understanding that people learn in different ways, we’ve refined curriculum delivery by segmenting sessions into four formats:  workshops, lectures, case studies, and discussions. 

Workshops are designed to help you learn or upgrade specific skills.  Led by skilled professionals and featuring a variety of interactive learning methods, these sessions will give you the chance to discover and practice new techniques.

Lecture sessions offer an opportunity to hear from an expert on a particular topic.  Unlike workshops which feature an interactive environment, lectures give you an uninterrupted, thought-proving one-hour period to hear from, learn, and be challenged by, some of the top people in fundraising today.

Discussions are your chance to speak up and explore a topic with other professionals. Led by a skilled facilitator, these sessions give participants the opportunity to discuss ideas and share opinions.  It’s you chance to explore the complexities of a topic and to discover and better understand various points of view.

Case Studies. There are many exciting projects going on in fundraising and so we’re devoting the entire second morning of Congress to Case Studies.  With a wide variety of topics and speakers, each presented for just 30 minutes, you can choose four sessions that are most interesting and relevant to you.  Each will follow a common format with the speaker describing the objectives, methods, and outcomes of a particular project or research study.

Whether you’re a veteran of Congress or considering your first visit, this year’s event promises you an unparalleled opportunity to design a learning plan that fits your style.  Please join us!

Denny Young, CFRE

Education Chair, Congress 2011

Posted by & filed under Congress.

Maria Dyck

Maria Dyck

Taking a few days to learn, think and grow is really important. I think that’s   what great professional development is all about and that’s what we work hard to deliver at Congress.

Congress 2011 is about sharing big ideas. Our team of hard working Congress volunteers has been meeting for months carefully selecting those in our sector with important messages to share. Our line up is pretty amazing!

One of the people I can’t wait to hear is one of our plenary speakers — Simon Sinek. Simon is the author of Start With Why, TED speaker, and founder of the Golden Circle model that has helped organizations like the United Nations and the Pentagon to change the way people think, act and communicate.  His ideas are big and you’ll want to be in the room to hear directly what he has to say.

I hope you’ll check back to this site from time to time as we’ll be updating it regularly with information about the event.  You can also follow AFP on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

See you in November,

Maria Dyck

Chair, Congress 2011