Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Big Changes in the Windy City

Fundraising no longer comes in cycles or campaigns so much. There’s no down time. If one campaign is over, then a new one is just about to begin. Which means you have limited time for things like continuing education.

I know all of you still find the time for professional advancement, and that’s indicative of your dedication to the profession. But your limited time means that your continuing education opportunities have to be top-notch. It has to cover the issues that are important to you and provide not only the latest, most innovative techniques, but also broad themes and inspiration you can take back for yourself, your staff and your donors.

The AFP International Conference is the largest gathering of fundraising professionals in the world, and has to represent the full spectrum of the profession while still being all about you and your particular needs. To that end, we’ve made a lot of changes this year to the conference—and all of them based on your feedback and comments.

We’ve created a more compact conference, with no more sessions on Wednesday and much more programming throughout the day on Sunday. Our general sessions are shorter and streamlined, focusing on broad themes and featuring multi-media presentations throughout, culminating with our big speakers such as President Clinton, Queen Latifah and Blake Mycoskie. Our educational sessions have been themed and refocused to emphasize the changes in the profession while still acknowledging time-tested and proven techniques.

We’ve also made it easier to connect with your colleagues at the conference and keep track of everything that is happening. Our new conference mobile website (which will debut in early March) allows attendees to access everything they need to optimize their AFP 2011 Conference experience, right on their smartphone! You can search the conference schedule and create a personalized daily schedule, look for specific speakers and exhibitors, read our conference daily digests and get the important links to additional conference information and materials.

In addition, there’s also afpnet.org/Chicago, our conference website, which will have all the updates regarding changes at the conference, as well as photos from the various events and a running feed from our conference Twitter hashtag, #afpmeet. Anytime you tweet while at the conference, or anything conference-related, be sure to include that hashtag in your message, and everyone following #afpmeet can keep in touch! We’ll also have Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube pages going on so you won’t miss anything that’s happening at the conference.

As our conference theme indicates this year, fundraising is all about perspectives. We want to provide you with as many different perspectives as possible, while still keeping your perspective at the forefront. We think the changes to the conference do just that, and we hope to see you in Chicago for what should be one of the most exciting and dynamic continuing education opportunities ever—the AFP International Conference on Fundraising!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Plans and Transitions

I hope you’re recovering from the year-end fundraising craziness that tends to envelope most charities. Studies continue to show that December is the busiest month for fundraising, and I hope your 2010 overall giving totals continue the slight upward trend we saw throughout the year.

Like many of you, AFP used January as an important time to plan for the coming year. Part of that planning is our leadership transitions this year. As you know, I’ll be stepping down as president and CEO after our International Conference on Fundraising in Chicago in March. Our search team has narrowed down the list quite extensively. When a final candidate is identified, we will make an official announcement.

We also have a new chair for AFP in 2011. Robbe Healey did an extraordinary job of leading our association for the past two years, especially during some very difficult economic times, and we are indebted to her. Thank you, Robbe, and I know you’ll do a great job as immediate past chair and leading up the Committee on Directorship.

We now welcome Andrea McManus, our first chair outside of the United States. Andrea is from Calgary and has served AFP in a variety of volunteer roles. She’ll be a great leader, and you’ll get to see and meet Andrea in Chicago.

Andrea was instrumental in developing our new Strategic Plan 2011-2013. Many of the goals and outcomes in the 2011 -2013 plan are comparable to ones found in our previous plan, though they have been modified to reflect changes in the association and the external environment over the past several years.

The biggest change is a new goal to address the need to recruit and develop young fundraising professionals, which has long been one of my passions. Planning sessions with chapter presidents revealed that one of the top issues facing fundraisers is the lack of succession plans and the limited pool of talented, trained individuals to replace current leaders in future years. The seven goals are:
• AFP will develop skilled, knowledgeable and ethical professionals worldwide.
• AFP will advance effective, ethical and accountable fundraising standards as an essential component of global philanthropy.
• AFP will aggressively promote and defend public policy that encourages philanthropy, supporting principles important to AFP and the fundraising profession.
• AFP will deliver optimal value to members.
• AFP will create a community of inclusion by seeking, embracing and engaging diverse individuals, groups and organizations with a broad representation of experiences, perspectives, thoughts and cultures within the fundraising profession.
• AFP will provide strong leadership in promoting and supporting the fundraising community worldwide.
• AFP will engage young professionals and youth exploring philanthropy and building their fundraising careers.
It’s a comprehensive and ambitious plan, but thanks to Robbe and Andrea’s work, we’re well-positioned to accomplish all of the goals. With the new year, Bob Carter, our new chair-elect, assumes the chairmanship of the Strategic Planning Oversight Committee and will be monitoring our progress.

We began our work on the plan in earnest last weekend as we held our New Board Member Orientation at the AFP International Headquarters. It’s a new event we’ve held over the past several years to introduce our new board members to our strategic plans and priorities and the staff who will be helping them carry out the plan.

I hope your own organizational planning is going well, and I look forward to seeing you at our conference in Chicago!