2021 Conference Sessions

Speakers are unlikely to change, but they might. We’re going to have 40 sessions at this year’s MOTM Conference, so check back as we update the content…

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

Well-known Crystal Apple teachers, CASE authors, listserv moderators, and fundraising curmudgeons Bob Burdenski and John Taylor launch the 2021 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 “Petchakutcha-style” welcome from our sponsors.

Closing Plenary Session:
Fundraising, the Economy, and the Coronavirus: Where Do We Go From Here?
Bob Burdenski, John Taylor, and Brittany Shaff, conference co-chairs, with Rodger Devine, USC, Jeff Shilling, UCSC and Diana Keim, City of Hope

Last year’s Meeting of the Minds Conference was turned upside down by the Coronavirus, and this year remained the same. As our now-online conference ends, what’s the “new normal,” and where does fundraising go from here? With the continuing impacts on one’s health family, job, investments, feelings of security and expectations about the future, it remains a new fundraising world — at least for now. A closing session with some thoughts and ideas for tomorrow, along with the panel’s recommendations for must-see sessions now in the conference video archive!

AAA to the Rescue:  Data You Can Trust
Shalonda F. Martin, USC

Data is an essential component of the success of our organizations. We need and utilize it for tasks ranging from sending thank you letters to complex prospect analysis. As this valuable organizational asset is in a state of constant change, we must work to ensure our data integrity. Join me as we explore how to leverage the three A’s – Association, Automation, and Assessment – to develop trustworthy and reliable data.

A Crowdfunding Check-in: Chaos, Calamity, & Covid
Taylor Stayton, UCLA and Ryan Lawrence, UC Berkeley

Two crowdfunding pioneers will lead a discussion about today’s best practice in project-based fundraising, how they’ve seen their programs evolve (including in the past pandemic year), and what they see ahead for this important component of an annual giving program. Identifying new donors, prospect-specific affinities, and satisfying student project and institution budget-relieving needs remain important goals. Hear how two great programs are continuing their excellence.

An Annual Giving Writing Forum
Jonathan Thomas, Westmont College and Carter Stripp, CalTech

Two SoCal wordsmiths will lead a forum discussion on the annual giving writing process. What themes resonate? What voices do you use – including the voice of your institution’s leadership? What considerations do you make for different audiences? How do you use humor? Urgency? Guilt? Peer pressure? When do you write with brevity, when do you write an extended proposal, and when do you write for “however long it takes to tell the story?” Join us for some direction and some discussion on ways to approach your annual giving writing objectives.

An Annual Giving “Last Call” Forum
Cameron Hall, Texas Tech University System, Torrey Hood, UNR, and Jill Boline, Meeting of the Minds Mastermind
Watch Jill’s conference welcome and a preview of this session!

Join annual giving experts and aficionados Jill, Torrey and Cameron for a catch-all chat on the final morning of the conference. Get all of your unanswered questions asked!

The Appeal Roadmap
Christina Nichols, MCR

Watch a preview of this session!

Your appeals shouldn’t feel like “2020” – Follow the appeal roadmap in this session to make your journey to raising dollars and attracting donors free of unexpected roadblocks.

Connect the Dots: Donor Relations Strategies
for Relationship-Building Success
Eliza McNulty, Stanford University
Watch a preview of this session!

Industry research says that donors want three things after making a gift: to feel appreciated, to know the organization used their gift for its intended purpose, and to understand how their gift made an impact. A donor relations strategy will help you connect the dots and deliver on these donor needs. In this session, learn about the basic components of a donor relations strategy, the types of projects and activities led by donor relations teams, and how we partner with colleagues across development to ensure our donors feel great about their giving!

Creative Ways to Engage Your Community & Donors With Video
JD Beebe, ThankView

Watch a preview of this session!

Video content is far and away the best way to reach your donors and build a culture of philanthropy. But where do you start when implementing video into your communications? Join ThankView CEO JD Beebe as he explores how video is being harnessed by institutions across the country to tell better stories, make their acknowledgments more meaningful, and retain more donors. Part trendspotting and part roll-up-your-sleeves strategy, JD will give attendees actionable next steps to supercharge their donor engagement.

A Digital Fundraising Forum
Taylor Stayton, UCLA and Emily Parris Sandler, City of Hope

Join some digital fundraising trailblazers for a chat about how their work has evolved in the last year, and will continue to evolve in the months ahead.

Direct Mail Appeal Share With BCG Connect
Dan Noonan, BCG Connect, Jessica Jordan, Dominican University of California, Jenn Morehead, Hendrix College and Elizabeth Burns Frey, York College

BCG Connect’s Dan Noonan presents a practitioner panel that will share some favorite (and successful) direct mail appeals.

A Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Advancement Forum
Perry Radford, Scripps College

Join us for a discussion about what it means to bring a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion lens to our work and how we can approach DEI work as advancement professionals. 

Don’t Shoot the Messenger – Dealing with IRS Issues and Staff-Created Conundrums
Natalie Graff, Cal Poly-Pomona and John Taylor

Natalie will pose real-world IRS situations created by both donors and staff to John. We will discuss the legal problems associated with these issues, including reviewing IRS doctrine on the subject. As we are often involved in these puzzles after-the-fact, John will offer suggestions on how best to resolve the problem while helping our donors and saving embarrassment for our staff. Attendees are encouraged to email scenarios to John in advance of the session and live during the presentation.

Getting More Blood out of That Turnip – Keeping Up w/Volume While Reducing Staff
Debbie Garcia, Azusa Pacific University and John Taylor

A discussion regarding how the pandemic has impacted our staffs and budgets, with a deeper dive into what these changes mean for the future of our profession and business processes.

Gift Agreements
Michele Wanner, Chapman University

Session summary to come.

How Texting for Stewardship and Fundraising Nets a
Return on Investment
Lauren Jaeger and Jeff Meece, Mongoose

Watch a preview of this session!

Reaching alumni virtually has become even more important with reduced in-person contact. If your fundraising and friend-raising plans aren’t keeping up with the times, it’s likely that your Advancement team is falling short of their goals. This presentation will use real-life examples to show how our partner institutions are successfully employing text-to-give campaigns to attain a positive return on investment through their texting platforms. In this session you will learn:
● Best practices for two-way donor texting engagement
● How texting can be integral to cultivation and stewardship plans
● Success stories from trailblazing fundraising teams
● How your advancement team can get started

An International Independent School Fundraising Forum
Laura Wensley, The Webb Schools, Diana Colmenares Velez, Colegio Nueva Granada (Colombia), Sam Davies, The Girls’ Day School Trust (UK), and Doug Hupke, Moreau Catholic High School
See a preview from Doug Hupke!
See a preview from Laura Wensley!

Join a group of panelists from independent schools on three different continents for a discussion about the challenges of growing a philanthropic culture at their institutions, how they go about it, what the last year was like, and how the coming year looks going forward. Bring your own questions and add to the conversation with your own insights.

It’s All About the Data – Strategies for Identifying, Collecting, and Maintaining Advancement Data
Laura Carlson-Weiner with Shalonda Martin, Jeff Callaghan, and John Taylor

Discussion regarding where and how institutions can obtain new data and update old and conduct data hygiene on current data, regardless of your staff size or budget.

Let’s Pivot: But What Does That Actually Mean in 2021?
Justin Marquart, RNL

The world has changed. Donors have pivoted, and generosity is still high, even amidst economic uncertainty. But you’ll only get gifts if you can capture attention, show impact, and make it easy and compelling to give. In a time of high stress and distraction, we’ve seen consumers, companies and donors make key shifts. Are you doing the key things to capture this new energy and these new behaviors? And what do things like ‘personalization at scale’ and ‘digital first’ actually mean when you’ve got a hundred people asking you to ask for money as a fundraiser? We’ll review what’s working, show key examples of how combining traditional outreach, digital channels, texting, video, and analytics can make a big difference. We’ll talk about how to make key investments now, justify them, and avoid whittling down too much amidst budget stress. Join RNL’s Justin Marquart for this discussion of what’s working in this challenging time for donor engagement.

Making the Case for Using the Right Data
Tessa Burke, Anthology

Today, creating personalized touchpoints for alumni and donors is critical to building their engagement. And while advancement services have the data that teams need to be able to build engagement effectively, this often goes awry. In this session, we’ll talk about ways you can advise teams as to what data they can and should use for engagement, ways that the rest of the division can help update data, and capturing the right data to inform strategies.

The New Advancement Services Organization – It’s a New World!
Maureen Procopio, University of Oregon
Watch a preview of this session!

The Advancement Services model in the current era of digital disruption has adjusted and expanded to emphasize data and tech not only in its tools, but also in the talent and organizational structures. In this session, Maureen will walk through trends, observations, and lessons from her 2019 Advancement Services study which investigated changes in models among several AAU institutions. What prompted those changes? What trends were observed? What are some opportunities?

The “New and Improved” (?!) CASE Guidelines
John Taylor

This very month, CASE is releasing the latest edition of its renowned counting guidelines. This version is both the 5th and 1st edition – John will explain how that’s possible! Our session will explore the many changes that clear up confusion from past versions, including counting bequest expectancies and sponsored research. But he will also tackle some of the new areas of confusion created in this edition, including priority seating and alumni participation. We will discuss some of the ongoing gray areas in counting and that which is cut and dried – well, cut and dried from a CASE perspective but not always followed!

The LA ZOOm Story and Other Online Engagement
and Prospecting Strategies
Robin Savoian, LA Zoo, and Eliza McNulty, Stanford University

Like many other California zoos and aquariums, the Los Angeles Zoo was closed for nearly 200 days in 2020. To keep people informed of the important work happening at the Zoo, the Zoo began offering monthly web chats with staff this past July. Hosted by Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA) President Tom Jacobson and CEO & L.A. Zoo Director Denise Verret, these interactive discussions featured field conservation programs and showcased important behind-the-scenes work going on every day at the Zoo. What began as an appreciation event to thank upper-level annual donors grew into a series of topics that extended outreach to particular donor and prospect affinities around other funding needs. These online events have become a great way to identify interests among lower-level members and engage donors previously unable to participate in on-site events. “L.A. ZOOm to You” talks have featured conversations about the Western lowland gorilla, Masai giraffe, California condor, and broader topics such as wildlife trafficking. Learn about the program’s success, and share ideas from others for keeping leadership donors connected, identifying and cultivating new members and moving them all up the donor pipeline during the global pandemic.

Personal Prospect Engagement: Pandemic Edition
Jennifer Dunn Greenspan, USC Dornsife
Ray Watts, Claremont McKenna College

As two of the most popular past Meeting of the Minds speakers, Ray and Jennifer have previously presented separately on the subjects of personal solicitation and leadership annual giving. This year, they’re teaming up to talk about the impact of the pandemic and the economy on their work. What are Ray’s fundamentals of personal solicitation in a virtual world? How have donor cultivation and engagement changed for USC Dornsife over the last year? And what’s it all going to look like going forward? Hear their stories and join the discussion with your own new best thinking. Two of our very best MOTM teachers talk about what they’ve learned, and how they’ll carry their programs forward in 2021 and beyond.

Prospect Pipeline:
Leveraging LinkedIn, Predictive Models & Engagement Ecosystems
Laurent “Lo” DeJanvry, University of California at Berkeley

Developing a healthy pipeline of new donor prospects is an essential component of your institution’s fundraising success in your current and next campaign. Come to this session to hear how to identify new prospects leveraging LinkedIn Sales Navigator and Predictive Modeling, how to initiate contact and qualify new potential prospects at scale, and how to create meaningful engagement opportunities for leadership and major gift prospects leveraging Zoom. Don’t rely on luck and chance to make your fundraising campaign a success — start investing in developing your prospect pipeline today!

Portfolio Hygiene and Optimization
Suzanne Stone & Meliza Trimidal, University of San Diego

Do your major gift officers have inflated prospect portfolios? Are they reluctant to give up prospect assignments? Do they have the best prospects in their portfolios? This session will discuss our approach and methods to instituting new policies and procedures for our major gift officers to ensure healthy, robust, and dynamic prospect portfolios.

Setting Student Fundraisers up for Success
Rachel Spencer, Vanilla Soft
Watch a preview of this session!

Your student fundraising team carries the lion’s share of the responsibility when it comes to converting and engaging your alumni and donors. It is largely up to them to deliver a positive experience for potential donors and, ultimately, inspire them to make a financial contribution. Despite this, oftentimes insufficient investment is made in recruiting and developing the best team for the task. This session will look at topics such as; student recruitment, training, development, motivation, incentives, retention and team-building. Your students are taking on what is arguably the toughest job in the development team and placing themselves on the very front line of your institution’s fundraising efforts. With this in mind, this entirely student-focussed session will ensure that you and your team are set up for maximum success.

Smart Fundraising Videos We Love, and the People Who Made Them
Bob Burdenski

Personal videos, funny videos, tear-jerker videos. They entertained and inspired, but did they accomplish their objectives? Bob shares some favorite fundraising videos from the past year, and will chat live with some of the people who made them happen. See where
strategic and smart meets cute and clever, and learn about how they happened and why they happened. We’ll also discuss tips and tools for making videos yourself with a limited budget. It’s a very first Meeting of the Minds film festival. Do you have a video you’re proud of? Send a note to Bob and come and tell the story behind it yourself!

Social Media & Search Engine Marketing: Putting It Together
Brittany Shaff, Victor Collado, Stephanie Zapata, & Caldwell Jackson

University of Miami

Brittany and her team from the University of Miami will explain their strategies for using social media and SEM to identify new prospect audiences, their affinities, and engagement tools for building relationships.

Finding Alumni Engagement Success…During a Pandemic?
Sarah Sturm, USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

One year into virtual alumni engagement, it is clear that our new advancement environment is here to stay. How do we look to the future and find success in a new digital world that comes with its own set of challenges? Using the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences at the University of Southern California as a case study, we will dive into four key strategies for creating a thriving alumni program:
• Building collaborative partnerships
• Giving alumni the programming THEY want
• Creating feedback loops
• Putting ALL of that data to work

Student Affairs Fundraising in the Midst of Capturing Student Data, Interests and Activities in the CRM
Terri Carlos and Monica Alejandre, California State University, San Bernardino

Fundraising among alumni in today’s world might be anything but traditional. Student experiences and engagement during college shape how future and current donors give back to their alma mater. But what if you don’t have student activities listed in your CRM? How do you make those connections and increase your fundraising opportunities while developing robust student data? This session provides candid lessons and practical tactics surrounding the assessment of student data needs, developing the right partnerships and approach to gaining access to data, overcoming obstacles and increasing fundraising opportunities.

Student Engagement & Philanthropy:
The Keys to Unlocking “The Next Generation”
Seth Newman, GiveCampus
Watch a preview of this session!

Young alumni and student philanthropy programs don’t always take priority in Advancement shops—but they are the best ways to build a pipeline for future giving, and they reflect an institution’s ability to develop lifelong relationships with alumni. This session will focus on the power of advocating for young alumni and student philanthropy programs, with specific recommendations to help Advancement professionals make space for these programs, invest in them year-over-year, and approach them as core to the institution’s overall giving strategy. We’ll share how important it is to treat students like any other constituency—and how much the principles of respect and flexibility can make a difference. This session will also include specific ideas for empowering student leaders, staying attune to their concerns and priorities, and designing outreach and engagement strategies that are creative and of-the-moment.

Senior Class Giving and Student Philanthropy: Strategies and Ideas From the Past Year, and Every Year
Andre Khachaturians, CSU Dominguez Hills

and Torrey Hood, UNR

Join Andre and Torrey for a student philanthropy forum Forging collaboration to strengthen senior class gift participation was key to increasing class giving at CSU Dominguez Hills. This session will cover what they did right, resulting in the desired class giving increases. But the road is not always smooth. So, we will review those aspects we feel could have gone better. The session will provide you with several key takeaways that will hopefully lead you to a successful class giving program.

Swag in a Zoom World
Brian Williams, AB Unlimited

How to use SWAG to create that emotional connection between your brand and your donor in a virtual world. In this session, come learn about fun engagement, new products and successful case studies: a University $6 Billion Donor Campaign, a College Homecoming Alumni Engagement, and Giving Day Recognition.

That Annual Giving Ad: Defining Goals 1/4 Page at a Time
Sarah Nash, Mills College

Session summary to come.

Turn off the TV – What to do With all These Channels
Stormie Harless, Ball State University Foundation
Jonathan Van Oss, Pledgemine
Watch a preview of this session!

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 Ball State University successfully targeted and connected with their donors and prospects despite a global pandemic in their 2020 award-winning “One Ball State Day.”

Understanding Cultural Differences in Fundraising
Marina Tan Harper PhD, University of California, Davis
Watch a preview of this session!

Cultural diversity, ecosystems of philanthropy, traditions of giving, and the nuances in communicating the value of philanthropy may be vastly different regionally and globally. As you go about with your work in annual giving segmentations, copy writing, design, and solicitations, are you thinking about these from the eyes and minds of the non-traditional potential donor? In this session, you learn about presenting your institutional priorities and areas of excellence in the context of what’s on the ground, i.e., telling the story from the donor/prospects’ eyes. You will also learn how to show respect for norms in a different cultural heritage, including the nuances that bridge the “heart” over “head” in your solicitations to constituencies where relationship before business.

What Does it Take to Succeed in Advancement Services?
Valerie Nguyen, California State University, Dominguez Hills

“It’s not an end goal, but a process that needs to be tweaked as you go.” We will explore the small things that make big differences. Further, we will review ways to prioritize the things on our to-do list effectively, key elements to cultivate a culture of success, and words that we often say to remind us to have confidence that leads to success. We will also pose the question (and will appreciate your replies!), “Why did you choose Advancement Services? Or did Advancement Services Choose you?” We tend to get bogged down with all our responsibilities and day-to-day operations and end up forgetting the passion, excitement, reason, and our decision to be in Advancement Services. Re-visiting this question will help to bring us back and help us to re-focus, to see the values in our work.

What’s Next for Text? Lessons Learned From 2020, and Texting Strategies for the Year Ahead
Christian Perry and Rachel Cleary, GetThru

Watch a preview of this session!

2020 was a year of challenges to be sure, but also of innovations. Whether your fundraising gala went digital, your giving day goal shifted, or you simply tried out a new strategy to reach your alumni and donors, we all felt the effects (and rolled with the punches) during an unprecedented year. While peer-to-peer texting (P2P) has been on the scene for a few years now, last year really provided an opportunity to lean into all P2P texting can offer. In this session, we’ll cover the basics of peer-to-peer texting: what it is, how it works, and use cases for educational institutions. But we’ll also dig deep on lessons learned in P2P texting in 2020, how those lessons can inform strategies for the year ahead, and how texting can enhance traditional outreach methods. Lastly, we’ll share case studies from current GetThru clients, focusing on how they use P2P texting to level up their annual giving and alumni relations programs. Lastly, we’ll chat about how to make P2P texting work for your school—whether you’re a team of one or a large, complex organization.

Why Can’t We Be Friends? Why Collaboration is the Most Important Tool for Taking Your Fundraising Digital
Megan French, Rebecca Reyes, Jake Blodgett, City of Hope

The last year has accelerated what many see as the inevitable need for philanthropy to fully embrace all forms of emerging digital engagement, but we cannot neglect taking a wholistic approach to communication with our donors that includes more traditional media. Using examples from #GivingTuesday 2020 City of Hope’s Annual Giving team will demonstrate how a multi-contact approach creates a “surround-sound” messaging effect.

The World is NOT Your Oyster – Stop Fundraising Like It Is.
Nathan Chappell, CFRE, DonorSearch Aristotle

Description: Data shows that only 56% of American’s make charitable gifts, so why are most fundraising programs aligned to think that every person they meet is a potential donor?  There’s no doubt that results happen when the art and science of fundraising are combined, but how much of the practice is based on myth versus science?  Join Nathan Chappell, a 20-year fundraising veteran for a discussion centered around the qualitative and quantitative reasons why people give, why some don’t, and how to measure signs of generosity throughout the donor journey.