Do you love getting together with your peers to learn from bright minds in the sector? I was once described as a “conference junkie” which I gladly took as a compliment. Being surrounded by brilliant nonprofit professionals for the sole purpose of inspiration, learning and networking is my idea of fun!  

So naturally, I’m counting down the days until I land in Baltimore for AFP ICON 2020, the world’s largest conference for fundraisers.

You can download the session handouts to absorb all the great content from the speakers. How cool is that? You can seriously enjoy all the content without paying a single penny! Completely new this year is a live streaming option where you tune into the conference virtually. Check out the AFP ICON 2020 website, for more on that.    

You can also get a sneak peek of the amazing speaker line up and binge watch several 3 minute microlearning videos here to get a sense of the speakers and what they’ll be covering. 

Below is my cheat sheet of can’t miss sessions at AFP ICON 2020. And please, come say hi in my session. I’m teaming up with Rachel Clemens, CMO of Mighty Citizen and Julia Campbell to save you time and boost your bottom line in “Timesaving Tools to Rock Every Fundraisers World” at 10:15 am on Tuesday March 31st.  

Sunday March 29th 9:00 – 10:15 am 

  1. What Nonprofits Can Learn About Building an Engaging Brand From Stand-Up Comedians with Leigh Kessler. Lots of professions take courage but stand-up comedy and fundraising take the cake in my book. You’re guaranteed to laugh and learn a ton from Leigh’s lessons on what stand-up comedians like Carlin, Seinfeld, and Rock can teach nonprofits about engaging new supporters. 
  2. I’M LEAVING! ….how to hold onto good fundraisers and help them raise much more money with Penelope Burk – This session exposes mistaken beliefs and outdated practices that make it harder for fundraisers to raise money and easier to leave. 
  3. The Intentional Fundraiser with Tammy Zonker which promises a formula for work success that helps you reclaim your life.  
  4. Monthly Giving: What Fundraisers Can Learn From the UK Experience with Mark Phillips

And yes, those are all 4 at the same time! Choose wisely fundraising friends.  

Sunday March 29th 10:45 am – 12:00 pm

I can virtually guarantee any of the 3 sessions below will challenge you to think (and prepare) in new ways!

  1. The Giving Brain: The Neuroscience of Legacy Giving with Holly Wagg – Canadian legacy giving guru Holly Wagg will help you uncover your audience in an unforgettable way. I can’t wait for this session — you’ll find me here! 
  2. A New Narrative for Professional Fundraisers with Ian MacQuillin and Jennifer Johnstone.
  3. Oh No! Ready for a Crisis? Prepare for the Day You Hope Never Comes with Sam Laprade – Of course no one wants to be in a crisis, but should it happen at least you’ll be better prepared! 

Sunday March 29th 4:00 – 5:15pm

  1. Fairy Tale Wedding, Marriage of Convenience or out of Necessity? Creating the Perfect Union Between Business and Your Nonprofit with Linda Lysakowski and Steven Titlebaum – If you thought pursuing corporate giving wasn’t worth your time this session will open your eyes to new lucrative opportunities!  
  2. The Top Ten Challenges of Capital Campaigns: How to Fix Them and Still Reach Your Goal with Gail Perry and Brian Bonde – If a capital campaign is on your horizon or you’re in the middle of one this session could help.  

Monday March 30th 8:00 – 9:15 am 

  1. The Case for Support Playbook: Using the Flexible Story Format to Engage Donors with Bernard Ross – Bernard Ross’s sessions are loaded side-splitting humor and pearls of wisdom. You’ll learn and walk away with new ways to make the case using powerful psychological tools and frameworks.
  2. DONOR-CENTERED FUNDRAISING ….how to hold onto your donors and make much more money in a changing giving environment with Penelope Burk – I’m assuming this session will include the latest update on Penelope’s research which is always a treat!

Monday March 30th 10:15 – 11:30am

  1. Fish in Your Own Pond: Combining Analytics and Stewardship to Raise More Money with Sam Laprade – This session promises a proven method to create deeper relationships with your current donors, to “fish in your own pond” for those with higher capacity or who are prospects for other forms of giving. Count me intrigued! 
  2. Practicing Gratitude, Learning From Fred Rogers, and Making Fundraising More Meaningful with Alan Friedman – Gratitude doesn’t just help you hold on to donors, it makes for a better workplace and has a myriad of benefits for your health!
  3. Five Tips On How To Get Lots Of Money From Donor-Advised Funds with Ted Hart – If you aren’t leveraging donor advised funds or discussing them with you donors you are leaving money on the table.  

Monday March 30th 11:45 am – 12:15 pm 

Learning Lab with Lynne Wester – You may only be able to catch Lynne’s session in person so if you are going, swing by Learning Lab #1 on your way to lunch to get social media tips for donor relations and more!

Monday March 30th 1:15 – 2:30 PM 

  1. Killing It on the Job When the Job Is Killing You with Clay Buck and Beth Ann Locke – This session promises to be a self-affirming session for fundraisers.   
  2. Seven Things Every Donor Wished We Knew with Wayne Olson – If you can’t make this session, read every donor truth bomb Wayne has artfully packed into his slide deck! Then wallpaper your office walls with them so you can live them everyday. Here’s the link to the handouts to make it easy for you! 
  3. Putting Your Board to Work: Designing Customized Donor Development Plans and Trainings for Your Small to Mid-Sized Nonprofit Board with Annam Manthiram – If you can’t make it to this session download the handouts, especially Annam’s Sample Board and Development Training Session Handout.  

Monday March 30th 3:00 – 4:15 PM 

  1. Beyond the Hype: What Actually Works in Digital Fundraising and Social Media with Julia Campbell and Josh Hirsch – Always good to have a reality check on what works when it comes to social media!  
  2. Crushing It: Capital Campaign Communications That Knock Their Socks Off with Sarah Durham, Vicky Bisogno and Bonnie Epstein – If doing a capital campaign is on your horizon come to this session to get inspired with real world examples and winning drool-worthy creative spotlighted in their handouts.     

Tuesday March 31st 8:00 – 9:15am

The Influential Fundraiser with Alan Hutson – This session will teach you how to use psychology and neurology to win donors over and is sure to be standing room only!

Tuesday March 31st 10:15 – 11:30 am 

  1. Timesaving Tools to Rock Every Fundraiser’s World with Rachel Muir, Rachel Clemens and Julia Campbell – I like to tell fundraisers “I find the tools so you don’t have to.” This session is that times THREE! You’ll get tools to help you get your foot in the door with donors, get the visit, and know if your message is getting through — plus social media tools and productivity tools to make EVERYTHING easier. Can’t come? Grab our handouts!  
  2. Elevate Your Event Experiences with Lynne Wester and Jan McGuire – If events are your jam come to this session to learn from the masters or grab their handouts.    

And that’s a wrap! I hope to see you at AFP ICON 2020 but even if you can’t make it this year I invite you to make your professional development heart happy by downloading the session slides

Rachel Muir
Rachel Muir, CFRE transforms individuals into confident, successful fundraisers. When she was 26 years old, Rachel Muir launched Girlstart, a non-profit organization to empower girls in math, science, engineering and technology in the living room of her apartment with $500 and a credit card. Several years later she had raised over 10 million dollars and was featured on Oprah, CNN, and the Today show.