Highlights from the AFP Gateway Conference

Last week my colleague Lizzie and I had the opportunity to attend The AFP Gateway Conference on Philanthropy in St. Louis. The conference theme was “In This Together: Collaborating for Change.”

Our nonprofit friends on the opposite side of the state put on an amazing conference. A stellar lineup of local and national speakers like Linda Haley and Antionette Carroll, a chance to get Carol Weisman’s latest book, and ample networking toped our list of favorites. 

Breakout sessions we attended included everything from emotional diversity, DIY video creation, social media & email newsletter strategies and achieving big results in small shops. Topping the list of takeaways:


  • Really good fundraising is based on love. If you’re doing it right, your fundraising journey is going to impact you as deeply as it does your donors.

  • We don’t go to donors looking for money. We go looking for their heart. With that, money follows.

Effective Marketing

  • Quality video is an important part of a nonprofit organization’s communication strategy. It produces more conversions than any other content.

  • Set social media goals (hint: goals should include actually being social & engaging with your audience!)

  • Ask yourself if YOU find your social media content interesting, relevant and engaging. Would you take time to read it?

  • The average human attention span is 8 seconds, or about 2 scrolls of the wheel on a computer mouse. Is your email going to grab their attention?

Big Results for Small Shops

  • By definition the small nonprofit is under-resourced. Utilizing consultants and agencies, you can accomplish what you don’t have the bandwidth to personally, and the ROI is more than worth it.

  • The advantage of a small organization is a very focused team with strategic goals and tightly focused donors. Relentlessly review efforts to achieve goals, create a ‘not-to-do’ list because time is the hottest commodity not to waste.

  • Reach out to donors just to ask advice. They will appreciate a contact without an ask and they love to dispense their opinions.

Our overall consensus is that it’s important to make time for professional development. We came back recharged, refreshed and armed with new ideas to help our clients.