2024 Conference Sessions

Topics and speakers are unlikely to change, but they might. We’re constructing the program with an emphasis on annual giving, advancement services, management, digital, data and stewardship.

We’re going to have more than 30 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 2024 Meeting of the Minds Conference with a festive welcome and a rapid-fire rundown of some of their favorite can’t-miss 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 sponsors.

An Introduction to Annual Giving and the “Meeting of the Minds” Conference
Bob Burdenski, Robert Burdenski Annual Giving

New to the profession? New to the conference? Join CASE Laureate and long-time MOTM host Bob Burdenski for an overview of today’s annual giving fundraising. We’ll talk about the evolving goals, methods, channels, messages, metrics — and the very idea of “annual giving” itself. Ideal for “newbies” (or you “oldbies” in need of a refresh) and also get some ideas for maximizing your “Minds” conference experience in Pomona.

Opening Plenary Roundtable:
Annual Giving and Advancement Services, Mutual Admiration and Affection Always
Rodger Devine, Pomona College, Mark Casey, Caltech, Bob Burdenski and John Taylor

Advancement Services Staffing in a Post-COVID World: Issues and Insights
Jessica LaBorde, MBA, CFRE, UC Davis and Wayne Combs, MBA, EdD, CHOC Children’s Foundation

Has your advancement services staff turnover increased dramatically over the last three years? Are you searching for ways to compete with recruiters who can offer salaries well above what your budget would allow? Wondering about what really matters to your advancement services employees? Join Jessica and Wayne as they discuss the results of aasp’s 2023 Career and Salary Survey. In this session the speakers will offer tried and true retention practices, and share their thoughts on the future of advancement services staffing.

An Annual Giving Directors’ Forum: Life After the US News Alumni Participation Decision
Rachel Robertson, University of Utah, Allison Barry, West Point Association of Graduates and other Panel TBA

From participation, to pipeline? From socks, to more sustained stewardship? From alumni, to other audiences? We’ll talk about CASE’s Alumni Engagement Metrics, the continuing value of a broad base of giving (including capital campaign participation goals), and what it all means for a variety of educational institutions.

Annual Giving in a Decentralized Campus Environment – Lessons Learned & Tips for Success
Rachel Robertson and Kelsey Rodgers, University of Utah

Whether its forming partnerships or herding cats, a central annual giving team has many interpersonal roles to play when engaging with its internal campus colleagues. Hear from Rachel and Kelsey how they’ve achieved annual giving effectiveness in a decentralized campus environment.

Building Your Annual Giving Department From Scratch
Mark Casey and Tania Mistry, Caltech

Org design, Recruitment, Team culture, and building a sustainable building your annual giving department from scratch: Org Design, Recruitment, Team Culture, and building a sustainable high-performance culture while also having fun. Learn about how Caltech has assembled an achieving annual giving team.

A Community Colleges Fundraising Forum
Doug Bennett, Orange Coast Community College

Join Doug Bennett from OCCC for a group chat about all things fundraising at community colleges.

Data for the Data People: Metrics, KPIs, and OKRs for Advancement Services
Mark Longo, Senior Director, Strategic Initiatives and Development Administrative Management, Caltech

As advancement services professionals, we are often called upon to develop, track, and report performance metrics for our colleagues in other areas of our fundraising and alumni relations operation. Yet, despite all our good work, we often don’t have the time or energy to measure our own team’s success. In this session, we’ll explain the differences between metrics, KPIs, and OKRs. We will also review many of the most common measurements for the various areas within an advancement services operation. Isn’t it time that you focus on the data that illuminates your achievements?!

The Digital Fundraising Strategic Plan
Ryan Lawrence, UC Berkeley

MOTM favorite Ryan Lawrence takes you on a tour of the process behind the creation of UC Berkeley’s first digital fundraising strategic plan. No matter the size of your institution, staff or budget, it’s critical to get the goal-setting right. Learn the scalable steps behind Berkeley’s first digital fundraising road map.

Direct Mail: Going Beyond the Envelope to Optimize Results
Sara Pond and Matt Sulzer, MCR

This session goes beyond the envelope to showcase ways to balance your annual giving solicitation plan. Explore a variety of direct mail examples thoughtfully packaged with other channels. And, be ready to join in a lively discussion of creative ways to prime your audience and formulate the right solicitation frequency that optimizes results.
This session is packed with:
✔ LOTS of Direct Mail Samples!
✔ Audience Priming Ideas
✔ Donor Journeys

Filling the Funnel: Engagement Centers and DXO Strategies
Emily Etzkorn, VanillaSoft

From unaware to loyal giver, your constituents travel a journey to becoming a donor. It’s your role to make sure they land in a place that can answer their questions, support their connection to your institution, and nurture that relationship. Join VanillaSoft Fundraising Evangelist Emily Etzkorn for this session, and dive into the idea that your Engagement Center can and should be playing a crucial role in not just finding one-time donors, but also filling your DXO funnel and helping each and every donor land in the correct place at your organization. Discuss donor loyalty and pipeline development, strategies for leveraging your Engagement Center alongside your DXO program, and more!

Gift Agreements – Managing the Crazy
Nicole Forrest Boggs, CSU Long Beach

Has a DoD ever handed you a cocktail napkin and asked if you can book this major gift tomorrow? I hope the answer is no, but we do live in a metrics-driven world. In this session, we will explore some best practices on processes and procedures regarding putting pen to paper with gift agreements, intake forms, tried and true templates, scholarship criteria forms, scholarship administration, and pledge reminders.

Gift Processing 101 – A Panel Discussion
Moderator: Wendy Johnson, CalArts
Panelists: Valerie Nguyen, Chris Meneses, Tod Davis, and Nicole Forrest Boggs

Join us for a discussion session about all things gift processing. We’ll ask the audience to share their questions, and the panel will do our best to answer them. We’ll talk about best practices and discuss some of the important topics surrounding gift processing: receipt dates, legal requirements, metrics, gift records, etc. If you’d like to submit your questions beforehand, you’re welcome to do so by sending them to wjohnson@calarts.edu.

Giving Days 101: Tools, Tricks, and Advice for Novices and Pros
Allison C. Berry, CFRE, West Point Association of Graduates

Unlock the secrets to successful Giving Days in this enlightening session designed for both beginners and seasoned teams. We’ll delve into the nitty-gritty details, covering crucial aspects such as choosing the right platform provider – with a checklist of essential questions you should ask. Learn the art of crafting a foolproof communication plan, structuring a winning schedule, and determining the optimal frequency for engagement. But that’s not all – discover the science behind donor incentives and how to elevate stewardship to an art form. Whether you’re just starting or looking to fine-tune your strategy, this session promises valuable insights, practical tips, and a dash of humor to make your Giving Days truly extraordinary. Get ready to revolutionize your annual giving campaigns!”

IRS (and State) Sticky Wickets
John Taylor, John H. Taylor Consulting, LLC

Back by popular demand, join John Taylor for a review of specific IRS issues impacting charitable giving. This session will focus on the complex legal issues that can impact gift solicitation and gift acceptance by your organization. We will cover the following:
✔ State Fundraising Registration Requirements
✔ Binding & Non-Binding Pledges
✔ Donor-Advised Fund and Family Foundation Issues
✔ Quid Pro Quo
✔ Donor Influence & Control
✔ Finish Line Topics Including Gift Dates, Scholarships, Cryptocurrency, & Corporate Sponsorships
John also wants to address related issues that keep you up at night! So please email him (johntaylorconsulting@gmail.com) with those questions; he’ll incorporate them anonymously into the presentation!

Leadership Annual Giving – Fundamentals of Personal Solicitation and (More-or-Less)
Face-to-Face Fundraising 

Ray Watts, Claremont McKenna College

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.

Leadership Annual Giving: From Arts and Culture to Higher Education Fundraising
Robin Savoian, Caltech

Returning to continue the conversation from her 2020 Meeting of the Minds session: What’s Working Elsewhere? Fundraising Success Stories from Outside Education, Robin will discuss the similarities and differences of donor outreach and navigating institutional red tape at non-profits with differing strategic priorities, while creating mission-driven experiences and meaningful donor impact. Robin made the transition to higher education in June 2023, after 20 years of fundraising experience at cultural institutions across Los Angeles. She will discuss past experiences at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association, and touch on a few strategies she has brought with her to Caltech. The session will conclude with an interactive discussion on best practices in higher education LAG.

P2P Texting Compliance: The Boring but Important Stuff
Rachel Cleary, GetThru

When peer-to-peer (P2P) texting was the next big thing for fundraising, it was a bit of a regulatory & compliance Wild West. Much has changed since then, and if you’re spending time, energy, and budget on a P2P texting program, it’s important to make sure your program is compliant with all the relevant rules & regulations. In this hopefully not-terribly-dry session, GetThru will take you through the ins and outs of P2P texting compliance, including demystifying 10DLC, and what the FCC and TCPA have to do with your texting program. We’ll do our best to make it fun, and you’ll come away with the knowledge you need to make sure your P2P texts get through.

Prospect Development and Advancement Services Go Together like Peas and Carrots
Carrick Davis, UC Davis

In this session, Carrick will discuss how advancement services and prospect development or similar and where they have unique diverging needs. Whether PD is within advancement services or development in your organization, understanding these perspectives will help you work better with your colleagues. Carrick will close with examples of projects that further the goals of both groups to consider for your next collaboration.

Records Management 101 – A Panel Discussion
Valerie Nguyen, CSU Dominguez Hills, with Grant Potter, UC Davis, Eddie Padilla, CSU Los Angeles, and Tod Davis, University of the Pacific

Please join our group of industry experts prepared to discuss your records management concerns and conundrums! We will encourage audience participation as you are the experts, too! We will come prepared to discuss topics including data governance, deceasing best practices, common data entry errors, when – and when not – to create a spousal/partner record, matching gift company management, daily and weekly data integrity edits, and whether you really need to create a new record when you receive a gift from an existing donor’s estate. While we will be happy to discuss these topics with you, we also want to review what is most important to you! We will add your suggestions to our list at the session’s opening. Or, if you prefer, you can send your anonymous (if you rather) suggestions to the moderator in advance: vnguyen@csudh.edu.

A Return to the University of Utah’s Recurring Giving Program – With New Data!
Rachel Robertson, University of Utah

Rachel wowed a full MOTM session room last year with an overview of the University of Utah’s big pivot to a recurring giving emphasis (including its all-recurring-gift-ask phonathon program). How’s it going? Rachel returns with some brand-new data and an update on the recurring giving successes at the University of Utah.

Selecting & Implementing a CRM – It Doesn’t Have to Be Scary!
Caroline Johansson, San Francisco State University with Jessica LaBorde, UC Davis and Zac Spurlin, University of the Pacific and John Taylor

Everywhere you look these days, organizations are considering a replacement for their Advancement CRM. If whatever you are using is ten+ years old, you likely will start having these discussions if you have not already. For many, “out with the old and in with the new” is scary. We attempted to calm those nerves during a breakout session at last year’s MOTM. And we promised to dig into the topic more deeply this year. So here we are! Join John, who has been through three system conversions in the last five years, and Zac, Jessica, and YOU, who are either converting or recently did, to learn a few secrets on how to do these implementations right while sharing personal stories of what has been done wrong. We will discuss the importance of needs assessment, RFP development, managing vendors (rather than them managing you), and the importance of careful planning, design, testing, and flipping the switch!

Selective AI Strategies for Annual Giving and Advancement Services
Rodger Devine, Pomona College and Bob Burdenski, Robert Burdenski Annual Giving

Draft letter copy, draft everything copy, long Excel formulas, graphic designs, and a whole lot more. AI won’t replace you, but some of its time-saving shortcuts can help make your annual giving work more efficient. Join Bob and Rodger for a run-down of some of their favorite AI hacks for annual giving and advancement services.

Silos to Systems: Managing Content Across Your Institution
Nichole LeFebvre, The Lucille Packard Foundation for Children’s Health

As our organization grew, teams began working in silos—leading to duplicated efforts, inefficient collaboration, and difficulty finding resources. This impacted our ability to create engaging, donor-centric communications. At Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health, our Content Team tackled these challenges by designing a powerful system to break down silos, boost internal communication, and create more compelling tools to support donor conversations:
✔ Monthly Collaboration Meetings – Align priorities, brainstorm ideas, and identify opportunities to repurpose content. Representatives from every foundation team attend— including annual fund, principal gifts, and corporate relations—maximizing efficiency.
✔ Centralized Content Hub –Track all content projects in one user-friendly place, ensuring transparency, accessibility, and streamlined collaboration.
✔ Communication Tools – Equip field staff with biweekly touchpoints and disease-area primers, enabling them to personalize communications for stronger relationships with potential donors.
Join this session to unlock the benefits of an organized, dynamic content system. You’ll hear ideas for establishing buy-in from colleagues, fostering a sense of community, and maintaining the practice. You’ll have the chance to share your own pain points and discover how to adapt this system to your organization’s needs.

Text-to-Engage: Strategies for Annual Giving & Major Gift Cultivation
James Yokelle, UC Irvine

Description – Building off of his 2017 MOTM session that detailed the diverse ways text-to-give was leveraged for annual giving efforts and major gift cultivation at USC, James returns with additional strategies and examples currently in use at UC Irvine. From events and direct mail appeals to tribute and similar crowdfunding-esque campaigns, discover ways you can create storytelling opportunities for your community through text.

Tracking Requests – Creating Visibility and Accountability through Functionality
Zac Spurlin, University of the Pacific, Chris Meneses, Caltech, and Valerie Nguyen, CSU Dominguez Hills

Have you ever had a service request slip through the cracks? Have you ever sifted through your inbox trying to find that original request when the VP asks, “Where’s my report?” Requests continuously come to us in various formats, and staying on top of these requests can be challenging. This session will discuss how you can track service requests in your organization and some of the solutions available and provide insights and options to consider as you begin this process. We will explore internal solutions vs. third-party solutions, reporting needs, and overall objectives of a viable tracking system. The next time, you will have the request and your response in your VP’s hands before they ask for it!

What to do When Your Donor Wants to Donate An Island in Canada
Doug Bennett, Orange Coast College Foundation

We will attempt to simplify the challenges of accepting in-kind gifts, from the simple gifts of cars to more complex gifts like real estate, boats, planes, and more. We will attempt to demystify the mysterious when accepting the “weird and bizarre.” We will begin the discussion by reviewing the importance of gift acceptance committees and policies. How to gracefully say “NO” and then we will dive into areas of specific concern these days, including:
✔ Gifts you should think twice about before accepting, like timeshares, life insurance, closely held stock, and certain bequests, and how to say “NO” to an in-kind gift gracefully.
✔ A Case Study of how the Orange Coast College Foundation built a nationally recognized sailing and maritime training facility through its boat and yacht donation program.

What’s the Big Deal? Key Differences Between a Call Center & an Engagement Center
Jeff Pacini, David Wishart and Kindra Samons, Legends

The future of the student call center continues to be a hot topic across the industry. The term “Engagement Center” has become a buzz word, but what does that really mean? How is it different from the traditional call center? During this session we dispel the myths, share insights, explore data and inspire your institution to evolve your call center from a “channel” to a coordinated “strategy.”

Why Data is the 4-Letter Word Savvy Fundraisers Swear By
Felicity Meu, GiveCampus

To fully flex your fundraising muscle you need buy-in from both the annual giving and advancement services sides of the house. How do you achieve the alignment necessary to drive meaningful results? The devil is in the data. GiveCampus analyzed aggregate data from 4,532 campaigns and 4,973 giving forms to identify what’s moving the proverbial needle in fundraising and what’s not. Find out how fundraisers are leveraging that data to drive decisions at key stages of the philanthropic lifecycle, and how they got everybody—including advancement services—to back their biggest bets. In this session, participants will learn how to:
✔ Maximize the results of their own fundraising efforts based on aggregate data
✔ Convince key stakeholders at their institution to take a chance on change
✔ Get more creative and launch bold initiatives that drive better outcomes

Women in Leadership in Advancement
Kalyn Rose Miller, Pomona College, Gizel Avina, Drucker School of Management, Claremont Graduate Universityand Panel TBA

Women make up the majority of nonprofit employees, yet they are underrepresented in leadership positions across nonprofit organizations. In this panel, we bring together women leaders and aspiring women leaders of nonprofits to engage in discussion about relevant issues and foster meaningful relationships. How can we understand both the challenges and the opportunities presented by women’s leadership? How do issues like gender roles, work-life balance, and mentorship shape women’s leadership?

You Build It: A Custom-Built CRM in 1-Hour
Jamie White & Kyle Vaughn, High Tide

Does the perfect CRM exist? In our experience the answer is no. The limitations of software often stops us from focusing on our ultimate goal of fundraising to help our institutions and ultimately our students. At HighTide we took this personally and accepted the challenge. In this session, we will crowdsource build a custom CRM based on the masterminds of those in attendance. Sounds crazy… we know… but if that isn’t crazy enough we took it one step further and created a way to migrate your data instantly. Join us and be ready to share your opinion on what will make the perfect CRM.