Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Greetings from Brazil!

I’m writing from Sao Paulo, Brazil, where the 5th Hemispheric Congress on Fundraising just concluded. The Congress is one of the premier fundraising conferences in Latin America, and it was a wonderful experience. Judging from the initial feedback we’ve received, our attendees felt the same way. Faculdades Integradas Rio Branco did a great job of hosting the event, and I was so delighted we were able to partner with them.

There was an incredible feeling of passion and camaraderie at the Congress. Fundraising is growing by leaps and bounds in Latin America, but there’s a wide level of disparity in the experience and sophistication of different charities’ development offices. However, instead of that disparity keeping people apart, attendees came together, helping each other out, sharing experiences and brainstorming ideas and proposals. There is a freshness and a sense that everything is on the table—the sky’s the limit!—and it made for some great back and forth.

Three hundred people from 11 different Latin American counties were able to attend, and our speakers included some of the finest fundraising minds from Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Canada and the U.S., including Bernard Ross, Norma Galafassi, Vivian Smith, Laura Ruiz Peres, Bob Crandall, Daryl Upsall, and Marcelo Iniarra Iraegui, to name just a few. Robbe Healey, AFP’s chair, delivered a plenary session on how to build a development program from scratch that was very well received.

The closing plenary was given by Steve Hildebrand, deputy national campaign manager for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, and it was the perfect ending to the Congress. Steve spoke to the importance of creating a case for support and a solid fundraising plan that is inclusive, empowering and inspiring. He talked about the importance of messaging and branding and the use of new technologies. He ended his remarks by stressing the importance of saying thank you. Very inspiring stuff, and it was appreciated by all the attendees.

I have to say thank you to Custudio Pereira, director general of Rio Branco, for his dynamic leadership. Without him the Congress would not have been such a success. We are also very grateful for the support of the Rotary Foundation of Sao Paulo, eTapestry and the U.S. Consulate. I also want to thank all of our speakers for their time and expertise that they shared so willingly with the participants.

I am always inspired by the Congress, and AFP learns as much from these experiences as we give. I am proud of AFP's involvement in this event and of our small contribution to advancing ethical and effective fundraising worldwide.

If you are interested in seeing the presentation or wish to download please visit the Congress website.


  1. Hi Paulette--

    I've been lurking on your blog for some time and always enjoy your perspectives. However, I wonder how I can find out more about the Congress and other international Fundraising AFP subsets. I seem to always find out about events AFTER they are over. I would appreciate any help you and others can provide. Marilyn Upah Bant, University of Illinois, Director of Development for International Initiatives,

  2. Hi Paulette. I hope you're well. I just discovered your Blog and decided to share with you a letter to the editor I sent to our local newspaper in honor of National Philanthropy Day. I'm curious to hear what you and others think about my perspective.

    It can't just be the economy!

    As communities across North America celebrate National Philanthropy Day this week, a great deal of conversation will take place about the negative impact of the economy on charitable giving. Although I agree the economy has presented challenges, I think it has become a convenient “excuse” for some nonprofit organizations.

    When I read about a nonprofit organization on the verge of closing its doors because of “the economy” of course I feel their pain and the loss the community will endure. But at the same time I’m aware there are thousands of nonprofit organizations that continue to thrive which makes me think the troubled nonprofits need to look deeper than “the economy” for their solution. Perhaps their programs aren’t effective, perhaps their facility isn’t well maintained, perhaps their leaders aren’t equipped to be effective good will ambassadors, perhaps their marketing efforts are misdirected, etc. If donations are down, it could also be a reflection of weak relationships maintained by the nonprofit organization with their donors who are directing their support to the organizations that have done a better job of stewarding the relationship and ensuring ongoing support.

    While I’m not arguing the economy is not a factor. I can’t help but wonder if it’s a wake-up call that some nonprofits need to further commit to going the distance in order to succeed.

    Seth Bloom, President
    Bloom Metz Consulting

  3. Excellent post and writing style. Bookmarked.