Thursday, December 16, 2010

Hemispheric Congress Virtually a Success!

I have just returned from Monterrey, Mexico, where I attended the sixth Hemispheric Congress–Latin America and the first virtual congress AFP has ever held. I admit that I had been somewhat skeptical of a virtual congress, but the tremendous success of the event proved me wrong!

Our partner in the event was Tecnológico de Monterrey, and sponsors included FUNDAMEX, Massociedad, Microsoft, FEMSA and Banorte. More than 300 people participated in the congress overall. We had more than 150 on-site attendees on the Monterrey campus and there were 20 other participating Tec campuses throughout Mexico, with each site having between one and 50 attendees. In addition, people throughout Latin America were able to participate online.

The day was full of excellent speakers, including:

• Marcelo Iñarra Iraegui, CEO, Marceloiniarra.com
• Rubén D. Sánchez, education lead, Microsoft Colombia
• José María Anton, secretary general, Virtual Educa
• Martha Smith de Rangel, executive president, FUNDEMEX
• Deborah San Román, director, Fundación ABC
• María Elena Noriega, president and founder, Office of Consultants in Strategic Planning, Organization of Financial Campaigns and Obtaining of Self-sufficient Resources, Noriega Malo and Associates, S.C.
• Alma Delia Ábrego, representative from the AFP Tijuana Chapter
• Rocío Álvarez Máynez, representative from the AFP Monterrey Chapter
• Elvira Van Daele, officer of operations, International Financial Corporation
• Alejandro Ferraez O., independent consultant and member of the AFP Mexico City Chapter

What was really fascinating was how the technology was set up so that virtual attendees could really feel like they were there. In some cases, speakers could see each virtual participant, and there was a lot of great conversation among attendees, both physical and virtual. I think the Congress is a great model for future virtual gatherings and something that AFP will be exploring more in the future.

For more information, go to the Hemispheric Congress website. And you can also find pictures here.

This was my last Hemispheric Congress as president and CEO of AFP, and I am so proud of the work the association has done to grow the fundraising profession in Latin America. Many thanks to all of my colleagues and friends in Latin America who have helped us along the way. It’s been so wonderful getting to know you all. Latin America has so much to offer the fundraising profession, and this year’s virtual Congress proves it.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Things Are Looking Up...Mostly!

I’ve been working in the charitable sector for a long time, but even I’ve been stunned by the number of surveys that have been released recently about fundraising and giving—giving up, giving down, optimism up, major gifts down, number of total gifts up, average gift amount down. It’s a bit overwhelming, and at some point, too much information leads to overload.

That’s one of the reasons why AFP has partnered with five other leading philanthropic organizations to create the Nonprofit Research Collaborative. As I wrote in one of my November posts, by combining our research, we’ve created the most comprehensive and accurate survey of fundraising ever, with responses coming from every type and size of charity. That’s important, because you know the data is solid and representative of the whole community.

And even more critical, the data actually have some good news. We’re seeing an increase in the number of organizations raising more funds than last year. Of course, we have to be measured in our enthusiasm. These increases aren’t huge, and we’re still nowhere near the level of giving we saw in 2007 before the recession. And demand for services continues to grow far beyond the increases in giving.

But at least we do have some good news. And a lot of guarded optimism. And perhaps a sense that we’ve seen the worst of it.

More good news came with the release of a report by Convio that explored a previously unaddressed aspect of philanthropy so far this year: holiday giving. The report estimates that U.S. giving will total at least $48 billion between Thanksgiving and the end of the year, with online giving growing by 30 percent to more than $6 billion. The report has a lot of great information about giving by different groups of donors and is well worth a read.

I was in New York City at the end of November working with two leaders from Convio, meeting with members of the media to give my perspective on the current charitable environment and commenting on Convio’s research. I also had the great honor of being part of the NASDAQ Closing Bell Ceremony and was able to get this great picture from Times Square. Thank you, Vinay and Gene, for setting that up. What fun, and a unique way to increase the profile of AFP and the fundraising profession.

Let me know how your fundraising is going so far during this holiday season, if it mirrors these reports and what you expect to see by the end of the year. I wish you the best of luck in inspiring donors to great heights!

Photo Caption: From left: Vinay Baghat, founder of Convio; Paulette Maehara, president and CEO of AFP; and Gene Austen, President and CEO of Convio at the NASDAQ Closing Bell Ceremony.