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My “do now” list from AFP Congress

My “do now” list from AFP Congress

Every year I do a list of “aha” moments from congress . (See my blog post from a few years back.) But this year, I’ve changed up my tune. I’m sharing the five implementable moments from congress – things that I can incorporate right away into my daily work that will change my way of working.

It’s impossible to be in every session at Congress. There’s too many! If you are interested in hearing what the “collective brain trust of fundraising mojo” had to say about their favorite parts of congress, JOIN ME on a Google Hangout on December 11th, from 1-2pm EST. Send me an email at [email protected] or follow this link  and I’ll put you on the reminder list for the webinar.

Now, back to my “do-now” discoveries from Congress.

To be a great conversationalist/MajorGifts officer, you need to ask open-ended questions.

What were your impressions of…? Can I ask your advice on? Gail Perry talked about different kinds of visits – the “kiss the ring” visit, the drop-by-drop visit (you only proceed with information about the project if the donor is interested), and the “advice visit.”  Her final message to the group was “When in doubt – shut up!” I wonder if this works in staff development meetings?

If you’re not asking you’re not getting

Amy Eisenstein’s 50 asks in 50 weeks session really reminded me to go back and keep checking the number of asks I am doing each week. For me, that’s different than keeping track of the amount of money that you’re asking for, and it’s different than the reporting that you do up to your senior management. It makes asking part of your culture. I am also going to implement her Monday morning ask concept: start every week with an ask for something. It could be money, it could be advice, it could be a board recruitment ask. To change your culture, you need to change your actions.

Hold a weekly accountability call

This is a 10 minute meeting which you take standing up with a colleague in your office. If you work by yourself, hold it over the phone with an accountability partner. This partnership could come from anywhere – a likeminded organization, a fundraising mastermind class like the ones I run, or a colleague from one town over. Amy Eisenstein uses the meeting to make yourself accountable for the asks you are going to do this week. The agenda is simple: 1) what asks did you do last week 2) what asks are you going to do next week. I honestly believe that any shop, regardless of its size, could benefit from this kind of plan.

Lean in to Leadership

Tony Elischer talked about the emerging crisis leadership in our development offices. Leadership is not a position, it’s an attitude. I think there are very few of us out there that think of ourselves as “leaders.” It’s a big word with a lot of baggage. The quote that hit home for me was “People don’t leave jobs, they leave leaders.” The more we value our people, and spend time with them, the more likely that they will grow from a development coordinator to a Major Gifts officer in your office, not someone else’s office.

Majority will become Minority in the coming years

The lunchtime diversity panel touched on some hot topic items. Three  Toronto philanthropists shared their perspectives on diversity and giving. While I thought the content fell short from a diversity perspective – how do minority donors want to be connect with, how do we change the inequalities for women in our boardrooms – I thought there was great value in how these philanthropists talked about giving. Aditya Jha from the South Asian community reminded us that trending Canadian birth rates mean that the majority (white, Canadian born) will become the minority in the very near future. His advice? “Don’t try to transplant something that has worked before with a majority into an ethnic community. Some causes are universal, but the ask is not universal.” The other great quote from the session was from Ana Lopes: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” I have seen this time and time again at organizations. Culture is the trump card.  If you don’t have the culture, you can’t make the change.

Next year’s congress will be November 23 to 25, 2015. I’ll be there. You?

Missed congress but would like to hear more? Send me an email at [email protected] with the subject line “AFP Congress Google Hangout brain trust” and I’ll send you reminders about the December 11th 1-2pm EST google hangout where we’re going to discuss congress.