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Lessons Learned from AFP ICON 2021

Written by Eryn Shugart, PhD

I was grateful to receive the Chamberlain Scholarship to virtually attend AFP Icon at the end of June. I found several of the conference sessions to have extremely helpful information, which I will utilize as I move forward as a professional fundraiser. I have delineated some helpful take-aways for me from the conference below.

A session on Active Listening and Moves Management emphasized the importance of listening more than talking when meeting with donors and stressed that the gift moves forward when we are not talking. A helpful analogy was that the words listen has the same letters as silent.

A session on major gifts included excellent points including the suggestion of calling major
donors every 4 weeks, research has shown that about half will respond. Volunteers who are donors give more than non-volunteers, and high net worth donors give 3.5x more. 4-6 outreach attempts per major donors over 6-8 weeks was suggested, then setting those donors aside if they don’t respond and revisiting in 6 months.

Another session on major gifts stressed the importance of listening to the nuances of what
people are saying. If on the phone, I will strive to take notes in the future to become more effective in listening, retaining, and documenting what supporters are saying. Engaging through deep, meaningful questions was also strongly suggested.

A session on leveraging research to bridge to larger gifts shared information about creating a
confidential verification profile as a way of qualifying donors. Such a profile consists of institutional information, such as linkage and giving history, as well as biographical information, community involvement, occupation, and assets.

A session on corporate giving focused on employee engagement, causes that resonate, ways to engage employees and inclusive opportunities as ways to draw corporation contacts closer to one’s work in philanthropy.

In summary, my participation in the conference left me with multiple helpful take-aways which
will improve my ability to raise funds to meet the mission of the organizations that I work and volunteer for.