AFP Mid-America Conference on Fundraising: Day One Takeaways

Emily, Allie, Merritt and Susan enjoy the end-of-day social at Boulevard Brewing Co. 

Emily, Allie, Merritt and Susan enjoy the end-of-day social at Boulevard Brewing Co. 

M&C is proud to sponsor the 2017 AFP Mid-America Conference on Fundraising, and we look forward to attending this fun event to learn from the experts, catch up with familiar colleagues and network with new friends. Today, Emily and Allie explored the art of philanthropy and had a few takeaways to share. 

Allie's Takeaways

Part of what drew me to the marketing/writing world in the first place is my belief that the desire to share stories is part of what it means to be human.

The basis for the rage I still feel when I think of the Red Wedding on Game of Thrones is the same reason I’m moved when I read about a veteran who received an Unmet Needs grant from the VFW. Stories have the ability to affect people emotionally, and subsequently inspire them to take action.

This is why storytelling has been and always will be integral to success for nonprofits. This was reinforced by Matthew Beem’s presentation at MAC on Capital Campaigns.  He spoke about successful organizations he’s worked with that have generated fundraising dollars because they’ve been willing to change the way the communicate with their donors. Putting a human face on the organization in a sincere, honest way will inevitably inspire your community to take action, whether that be through volunteering, donating or signing up to receive your monthly e-newsletter. Whatever it may be, it’s a step in the right direction. We also can't get distracted by other bells and whistles and forget to empower donors, volunteers and board members share the organization's story and be ambassadors for the mission.

That’s all for today. See you here tomorrow for thoughts on day #2 (and maybe more Game of Thrones references … we’ll see how it goes).

Emily's Takeaways

When Kay Sprinkel Grace spoke during her lunch keynote, the experiences and observations she shared about areas of improvement for nonprofit boards seemed to mirror my own board service adventures. Now, that’s not to say that I’ve had overwhelmingly bad board experiences. In fact, I’ve really enjoyed all of my board service opportunities, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room to change and rethink the status quo.

Kay’s approach to level the playing field so that all board member efforts are appreciated, not just fundraising, spoke to me as a young professional. I haven’t yet amassed my millions (ha—maybe someday!), but I have time and skills to give. I don’t want to feel like my contributions are playing second fiddle to the board member who regularly writes a $1,000 check. If we’re both giving at our maximum capacity (whatever that looks like), that should be recognized and valued equally.

I also liked her emphasis on empowering all board members to serve as advocates for the organization (like Allie mentioned, the storytelling piece is critical) and the need to educate board members on the philanthropic ecosystem. These are two pieces that I think often get overlooked by nonprofit professionals running boards and would be easy and cost-effective (read: FREE) ways to deepen the engagement of your board members.