2020 Conference Sessions

We’re still compiling the 2021 program, but here’s what we pulled off last year…

Opening Plenary Session:
Be Mindful:  All The Sessions You Don’t Want To Miss…
Welcome, Introductions and Conference Highlights
Bob Burdenski and John Taylor, Conference co-Chairs
Wednesday at 1 p.m.

Well-known Crystal Apple teachers, CASE authors, listserv moderators, and fundraising curmudgeons Bob Burdenski and John Taylor will launch the 2020 Meeting of the Minds Conference with a festive welcome and a rapid-fire rundown of their favorite advancement services and annual giving conference sessions and speakers to follow. Often in sync, lovingly in conflict,  and always working in support of philanthropic goals, annual giving and advancement services offices play a critical role in advancement success.  Join Bob and John as they provide a preview of the great conference sessions to come, and hear a special welcome from our host (sort of), Cal Poly Pomona Vice President for Advancement Dan Montplaisir.

Closing Plenary Session:
Fundraising and the Coronavirus: Where Do We Go From Here?
Bob Burdenski, and John Taylor, conference chairs, with Brian Gawor, RNL and Scott Fry, Community Funded
Friday at 12:00 Noon PDT

This year’s Meeting of the Minds Conference was turned upside down by the Coronavirus, and the conference endured with some planning, quick thinking, creativity, know-how and luck. As our now-online conference ends, where does fundraising go from here? With the potential to impact one’s health family, job, investments, feelings of security and expectations about the future, it’s a whole new fundraising world — at least for now. A closing session with some thoughts and ideas for tomorrow.

The Best of the Bunch (BOB):
Favorite Annual Giving Ideas and Strategies From the Past Year

Bob Burdenski
Thursday at 9:00 a.m. PDT

Awesome appeals, terrific technologies, dynamic discoveries and marvelous messages. It was a great year of pushing the envelope in direct mail, digital and beyond. Come and see CASE Innovations in Annual Giving author Bob Burdenski dump out his bag of BOB awards for some of the clever fundraising ideas of the year.

An Advancement Ethics Panel Discussion: Fifty Shades of Grey
John Taylor with Natalie Graff, Cal Poly Pomona, Gina Johnson, Cal Poly-Pomona, and Nathan Chappell, Futurus Group
Thursday at 4:00 p.m. PDT

Join Natalie and John as they facilitate a discussion regarding the many real ethical dilemmas that confront our profession. From questionable donors and shady gifts to personal boundaries and marriage proposals! You many anonymously submit your questions and issues in advance if you wish! Dan Montplaisir, Vice President of Advancement at Cal Poly Pomona, will join the panel to share perspectives from a senior leadership level.

AI and the Future of Generosity
Nathan Chappell, Futurus Group
Friday at 10:30 a.m. PDT

Over the past few years Artificial Intelligence has entered the nonprofit sector in a significant way. Nonprofits are beginning to harness big data and advanced technology to help them solve some of the biggest challenges facing humanity. From operations to mission delivery – learn how AI is accelerating the pace of the social sector and already helping improve the human condition.

Alumni Participation – A Forum
Kerry Steere, Claremont McKenna College
Friday at 9:00 a.m. PDT

Everyone’s favorite! Bring your questions, frustrations, wild successes, or learning opportunities to share in an open discussion about alumni participation. Discussion will be sure to include: Why are/Are participation rates still important? Are we measuring it correctly? What are some strategies and tactics for improved participation rates I can use now? Or over the next 5 years? What are other metrics I should be tracking? How can I educate my (insert audience here) about participation rates? What is the future of alumni participation? Come for some great conversation — perhaps some group therapy — and leave inspired to tackle the next percentage point with a few new tools.

Annual Giving and Prospect Research: The Dynamic Duo
Natasha Kashefipour and Erika Bernal, UC Riverside
Thursday at 2:45 p.m. PDT

Learn how the Office of Annual Giving and Constituent Research & Development at UCR have partnered on successful projects, despite being two departments that traditionally do not work closely together! Topics include creating a customer service portal, custom modeling, and increasing the likelihood of Telefund pledge fulfillment.

Creating a Culture of Engagement and Giving
Tessa Burke, iModules
Friday at 10:30 a.m. PDT

Research shows that engagement leads to giving and helps to build your potential donor base. iModules has been reviewing online giving data for the same set of 200+ institutions over the last three years and have identified some common threads for success. In addition, iModules launched a nationwide alumni survey, exploring what constituents really want when it comes to your digital communications campaigns and the impact email can have on your organization’s engagement strategy. In this session, we will look at the relationship between alumni engagement and giving while sharing examples of email marketing, events, and online giving campaigns. Come ready to share the successes and struggles your institution has faced related to your digital engagement efforts and uncover opportunities for giving and engagement growth.

Data Automation at UC Davis: A Grateful Patient Success Story
Rowann Tatco, UC Davis
Pre-Recorded Session – Watch Anytime in the Archive

Interested in implementing a Grateful Patient program in your advancement services shop? Already have a program but would like to automate the tasks to have a faster overall turn-around? Join Rowann Tatco as she details the data automation we built to accept, verify, enrich, and upload patient bio data in support of the Grateful Patient program at UC Davis Health. In addition to a workflow deep dive, Rowann will also dish on the tools and technology we used to build the automation that feeds into our database of record, Ellucian Advance. You will leave the session with insight into the improvements that can be realized by combining full-stack application development with biodata maintenance. 

The Digital Engagement Officer and You
Derek Druckelman, EverTrue and Bob Burdenski
Thursday at 4:00 p.m. PDT

OK boomer, you’ve got too many rated prospects in far-flung places, too many phonathon student callers with not enough to do, 5G internet and Zoom sitting on your desk, and not enough mid-level prospects for your next capital campaign. Is the digital engagement officer your savior? They’re popping up in advancement offices as students, staff, and volunteers and equipped with video conferencing capability, personalized mailed proposals, artificial intelligence, prospect scoring and more. What’s going on here, and are digital fundraisers in your future? If you’re wondering, come and learn. If you’re a “digital engagement officer,” come and tell us your story.

A Digital Philanthropy Forum
Ryan Lawrence, UC Berkeley
Friday at 10:30 a.m. PDT

Bring your digital fundraising questions and topics to this catch-all session all about crowdfunding, alternative payments, texting, giving days, social media, email fundraising, and predictions for the future.D

Effecting Change: A Strategic Guidebook for Development Professionals
Mark Longo, California Institute of Technology
Thursday at 2:45 p.m. PDT

How might you influence and impact change within your development operation? How can you develop more meaningful partnerships across your organization? This session will empower attendees with the knowledge and skills needed to enact strategy development, change management, and benchmarking tools that lead to process improvements and organizational excellence.

Engaging New Generations: Nine Keys to Reaching Millennials
Dan Ettinger, GiveCampus
Friday at 9:00 a.m. PDT

Millennial and GenZ’s “coming of age” has led to widespread decline in alumni participation, as well as concerns about a potential “lost generation” of major donors. However, all is not lost! This generation will be the beneficiaries of the largest transfer of wealth in human history. And according to numerous surveys and studies, between 80% and 90% of Millennials give to charitable organizations each year. The presenter will review nine characteristics of Millennials and post-Millennials that drive much of their behavior and highlight actionable tactics to increase this population’s philanthropic engagement. Dan will illuminate the case study with data drawn from digital fundraising of 700+ schools.

Fundamentals of Personal Solicitation and Face-to-Face Fundraising 
Ray Watts, Claremont McKenna College
Thursday at 9:00 a.m. PDT

Annual Giving is a dynamic and changing field, no longer solely focused on mass marketing through direct mail and student phonathons.  The “new normal” for annual giving is a team-centered approach with a group of individuals who have personal prospect portfolios and expectations of much more face-to-face identification, cultivation and solicitation work.  This workshop will be structured in an interactive format, with a focus on real-time learning and specific coaching.  Come prepared to share experiences and learn strategies and tactics to make you a better development professional as you get on the road and work with donors one-on-one.

Fundraising For University Initiatives
Terri Carlos, CSU San Bernardino
Wednesday at 2:15 p.m. PDT

The library, student life, the food pantry, the formal gardens and more. They may not have an alumni constituency, but they’re important to your campus, and they have important fundraising needs, too. Hear how they’re helped at CSU San Bernardino, and talk about how we serve your special units on campuses.

The Game of Donor LIFE
Christina Nichols, MCR
Thursday at 1:15 p.m. PDT

The donor journey can feel like the game of LIFE with unexpected highs and lows. In this interactive session, we’ll work through the “life” of our donors and present direct mail and related solutions to opportunities that impact the donor experience. Attendees will receive an “instruction manual” for the Game of (Donor) LIFE.

Get The LoDown: Top 10 Insights From Lo’s Last 20 Years
Laurent “Lo” de Janvry, UC Berkeley
Thursday at 10:30 a.m. PDT

Want to get a jump on your career by leveraging insights from a seasoned development and alumni relations professional? Come get the “LoDown” on annual giving, alumni relations, class based affinity, development volunteers, prospect qualification and pipeline development, comprehensive campaigns, strategic planning, and leadership. This session will be a summary of my thoughts, findings, and insights over the last 20 years as I’ve worked in both university-wide and unit-specific roles, leveraged market research, data mining-modeling, and strategic planning to drive change and growth, and worked my way up from Associate Director of Annual Giving Direct Response Marketing to Executive Director of Annual & Leadership Giving to Assistant Dean of College Relations & Development. My life’s insights are yours for the taking…and they are sure to give you a step up on leading change and growth at your institution.

Give Day at UC Davis
Michele Hicks and Veronica Hoglund, UC Davis
Pre-Recorded Session – Watch Anytime

Give Day at UC Davis is more than just a large-scale solicitation. It is a social media movement, fueled by a robust communications strategy and the relationships we have built with our leadership-level donors who sponsor challenge gifts. To serve the needs of our campus partners (the Annual and Special Gifts Program) and ensure a donor experience worthy of this celebration, every team within Advancement Services works together to keep the gift and donor data pieces moving – really, really big pieces. Join us as we show you how we built the teams and the technology to crack the code on Give Day volumes at UC Davis – matching, batching, and dispatching more than $2 million dollars from 4,454 individual gifts – in less than two weeks.

Honoring Difference by Stewarding Data: Achieving Identity Alignment in Biodata at UC Davis
Veronica Hogland & Michele Hicks, UC Davis
Pre-Recorded Session – Watch Anytime in the Archive

Although our community has grown more diverse each year, our system of record had structural limitations that prevented us from capturing the diversity that our constituents reported in their biodata. This did not with align with the student experience on campus. Further, it reflected neither our core values, nor our fundraising strategies. So, we undertook changes that developed into an award-winning biodata diversification initiative. Join us as we discuss how we partnered with our LGBTQIA community and international development team to effectively reflect non-binary genders and international biographical data in our system of record and online giving website. We will also share details about how we adjusted our data tables and business processes to circumvent the structural limitations present in our version of Ellucian Advance (9.8.1) so that you, too, can find ways to bring your old-school database into identity alignment.

Intentional Steps to Creating a Career Path
Kent Stanley, Minnesota State University, Mankato
Thursday at 1:15 p.m. PDT

It’s your career. Is it progressing the way you’d like it to? Are you investing time learning the tools and strategies to help you get to where you want to be. Join us for a look at real-world steps on moving your advancement career forward.It’s your career. Is it progressing the way you’d like it to? Are you investing time learning the tools and strategies to help you get to where you want to be. Join us for a look at real-world steps on moving your advancement career forward.

A Leadership Annual Giving Forum
Neesha Crossman, UC Riverside and Lisa Wright,
United Way of the Inland Valleys
Thursday at 10:30 a.m. PDT

Bring your face-to-face fundraising questions and learn from two seasoned professionals about how they engage prospects, discuss giving interests and secure philanthropic gifts for their organizations. Discussions will include: How are your prospects selected?  How do you secure appointments?  What’s the conversation agenda?  What materials do you use, if any?  And what’s the stewardship?  Share your own best ideas, your success stories (failures welcome, too), and your face-to-face words of wisdom in this forum.

Mine Your Data To Maximize Your Results
Laurent “Lo” de Janvry, UC Berkeley
Thursday at 2:45 p.m. PDT

Come learn about data mining and modeling, and how predictive analytics can help you identify new donor prospects and prioritize your resources to maximize the results of your direct response marketing appeals and frontline fundraisers. And don’t worry….even if you hated statistics, this session will NOT be technical and will empower and excite you to go back to your institution and begin mining your data for gold! You’ll leave this session with a basic understanding of how to mine your data, and how to develop and leverage predictive donor models to prioritize and maximize your next fundraising campaign. Don’t miss this California Gold Rush…since there’s gold in them thar data!

Mythbusters: Marketing is from Mars, Annual Giving is from Venus
McCabe Callahan, Community Funded
TENTATIVE: Thursday at 4:00 p.m. PDT

The title of “Annual Giving” is not an excuse for bad marketing practices. So often, Annual Giving professionals see their work as categorically different than marketing. In reality, these are just synonyms. Learn how fundraisers can implement modern marketing practices to connect with their audiences, inspire multi-channel gifts, and get up to speed in the new decade.

New Decade, New Tools: Get Innovative with Peer-to-Peer Texting
Ryan Lawrence, UC Berkeley and Rachel Cleary, Get Thru
Wednesday at 3:45 p.m. PDT

In 2020, fundraisers are facing big challenges: response rates for traditional channels are trending down, and it’s harder than ever to get your alumni and donors’ attention. What’s the solution? Reach them where they are—on their cell phones! Peer-to-peer texting is becoming a proven method for annual giving and alumni relations shops. It’s personal, flexible, and creative, and there are tons of best practices to take away from colleges and universities that are already using texting. In this session, we’ll talk about what peer-to-peer texting is, how it works, and how UC Berkeley has worked with GetThru to leverage texting to help meet fundraising goals. Join us for a dynamic conversation, to ask questions and learn best practices, and to dig in on the next big thing in annual giving.

What’s Working Elsewhere?
Fundraising Success Stories From Outside Education
Robin Savoian, Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association
Anita Lawson, LA Philharmonic
Megan French, City of Hope
Annamaria Ahern, Children’s Hospital of Orange County
Thursday at 1:15 p.m. PDT

Join a panel of non-profit development professionals to hear about new ideas, successes challenges and strategies from around the non-education non-profit fundraising world. Hear how they’re succeeding with recurring gifts, social media, leadership gifts, safari societies, volunteers and more.

Overcoming the Trough of Despair
Joseph Boeke, California Institute of Technology
Thursday at 9:00 a.m. PDT

The implementation of a new system can be an incredibly exciting time in the life of your advancement program.  Or, it can bring you tears of frustration and sorrow when everyone complains about it, or doesn’t use it.  And not too long after you hear, “The system is broken.”  It doesn’t have to be that way!  While we focus on training staff before and during implementation, we often forget that “Seeing is believing” and that adoption of new systems demands immediate and proactive training POST-implementation.  How-to and why-to create such a training plan is the focus of this session.

A Phonathon Forum:
Special “Student Philanthropy Team” Edition
Kamalei Lee, Pitzer College and Rachel Spencer, Vanilla Soft
Friday at 9:00 a.m. PDT

Squeezing more productivity out of your phonathon program is a very hot topic, and we’ll look at the quickly-growing job description for the students in your calling room. Bring your best tips and your biggest frustrations to this open discussion about what’s working in the phone room.  Get some new strategies for improving your contact rates, pledge rates, credit card rates, recurring gifts, pledge fulfillment and more.
Planning on attending?
Share your forum questions in advance by sending them to kamalei_lee@pitzer.edu or rachel.spencer@vanillasoft.com

Road Trips, Brains, and Grandmas:
What We’ve Learned in 5+ Years of Crowdfunding
Taylor Stayton, UCLA
Thursday at 2:45 p.m. PDT

Join Taylor Stayton as she shares some of the top takeaways and lessons learned over five years of crowdfunding and more than 331 projects. Learn how to effectively develop a comprehensive crowdfunding strategy, beginning with goal-setting and ending with post-campaign reporting. The art and science of crowdfunding will be explored through data, analytics, case studies, stories, and strategies that can immediately be put into action at your institution.

Setting your Team up to Win through Defining Your Expectations!
Marisa Szem-Stafford, M.S.
Wednesday at 2:15 p.m. PDT
Note: If you’re planning to attend this session, download this session workbook before the session begins.

Leading and managing people can be difficult and often times, you learn how to manage and lead others by not managing and leading the way previous supervisors managed you. This session provides you with one of the foundational skills for effectively managing and lead your team members so they can fulfill on the goals of the organization. With this skill, you will begin to manage performance more effectively and create higher levels of engagement and productivity. In learning this five-step process, how you communicate your expectations will be clearer and allow your team members to produce the results you’re looking for from them.

So You’ve Just Been Named the (fill in major title). Now What?
Kent Stanley, Minnesota State University, Mankato
Wednesday at 3:45 p.m. PDT
Download Kent’s Leadership and Management Philosophy

Often the direction toward success or lack of success of a new leader is determined in their first 100 days on the job. Have you thought through the strategic, tactical and inter-personal critical issues that you’ll have to have plans for early on? This session will examine 9.5 key tools through this primer on creating success pathways for new leaders, or leaders in new roles.

Stewardship That Moves You: Using Video To Nail Acknowledgements
JD Beebe, ThankView
Wednesday at 1 p.m.

Session description to follow.

Turn off the TV – What to do with all these Channels
Jonathan Van Oss, Pledgemine
Wednesday at 2:15 p.m. PDT

Most of us struggle with just trying to reach our donors with one channel. Now there is “multichannel” and even “omnichannel” fundraising. It doesn’t need to be as intimidating as it seems, no matter how small or large your institution is. Learn how you can reach your donors in the most effective way possible by “listening” to what they tell you through their own giving behavior. Also, learn how other MOTM institutions are targeting, and connecting with their donors and prospects with segmented, strategic messaging and intentional timing using an omnichannel fundraising approach.

Taming the Chaos: How to Unify Data, Business Intelligence Tools, Documents and Systems into a Single, Intuitive User Experience
Nadine Francis, Pomona College
Friday at 10:30 a.m. PDT

Have you heard these complaints from users?: Why do I have to keep track of so many links? If I’m looking for a report, how do I know whether it was written in Cognos, Tableau, PowerBI or SSRS? We have so many reports! Why isn’t there an easy way for me to locate and ‘favorite’ the handful I use most often? Where is the policy or procedure I need? Why can’t I seem to find anything!?! In response to these pain points, Pomona College developed an innovative platform entitled “ConnectTo,” which builds upon traditional intranet concepts by not only providing a one-stop shop for policies, procedures, training videos, and other materials needed by staff, but also by deploying reports using a variety of business intelligence tools – including Tableau, Cognos, SQL Reporting Services and PowerBI – via a unified portal. No longer burdened by the dangers of adding one more tool to the mix, we are now free to create visualizations, management reports, executive dashboards, list reports, and other data-related deliverables using the most appropriate tool for the job (as opposed to the one tool users know how to access).

Testing, Testing: The Best Way to Get Know Your
Direct Mail Audiences and Boost Results
Dana Mathes, University of California, San Francisco
Thursday at 10:30 a.m. PDT

In this session, chock-full of real-world examples and results, we’ll explain why testing is essential to any successful direct response program, and go over the basics, including the types of tests you can try (hint: you don’t always have to do a strict A/B test); goals of testing; and how to prioritize which tests to do in any given year. Newbies to direct response marketing will appreciate this all-inclusive primer, while seasoned pros should leave with plenty of inspiring ideas.

Transforming Telephone Campaign ROI
Rachel Spencer, VanillaSoft
Thursday at 9:00 a.m. PDT

Many organizations face a significant challenge of yielding a healthy ROI in the very particular context of telephone fundraising campaigns. With this ‘key performance indicator’ (KPI) increasingly being used to benchmark the success and effectiveness of a given campaign, what steps can campaign managers take to drive this all-important figure upwards? During the course of the session, we will look at: reducing spend; increasing income; boosting contact and conversion rates; diversification of approach; software; and much more. Session attendees will be invited to think creatively and innovatively about their calling efforts, and will leave with a clear plan of action in order to maximise their campaign ROI.

What Have I Gotten Myself Into?
The Legal Ins & Outs of Donor-Advised Funds, Etc.

John Taylor
Wednesday at 2:15 p.m. PDT

This session will look at issues pertaining to giving through donor-advised funds, and the related issues for gifts from private (family) foundations. We will analyze the curious IRS Notice 2017-73 applying to DAFs, and dive deeper into the broader issue of pledges (enforceable, conditional, unenforceable – whatever!) being satisfied through DAFs and private foundations. Coupled with this, we will discuss donor benefits associate with gifts through these mechanisms and overall issues pertaining to quid pro quos.

Your Best Ambassadors: Engaging Students and Volunteers
Brian Gawor, RNL
Wednesday at 3:45 p.m. PDT

One of the best ways to engage your donors is with outreach by their peers, and by the people receiving their support. In this session, we’ll talk about best practices to recruit, engage and encourage volunteers. We’ll also talk about what impact this has on fundraising, and how the authentic, hands-on experience volunteers and student philanthropy participants have increase their likelihood of giving. We’ll share results from the largest-ever survey of millennial donors about the impact of their peers, and the results of fundraiser surveys on how volunteers are working. From volunteer solicitation, to help as social media ambassadors and story creators, your volunteers are your best bet to engage a highly skeptical and highly connected 21st century donor base.

Pledgemine: A Product Demo
Tim Johnston, Pledgemine
Friday at Noon PDT

Get Thru: A Product Demo
Rachel Cleary, Get Thru
Friday at Noon PDT