2019 Conference Session Descriptions

View a pdf copy of the full conference schedule.

We are officially CFRE Certified! To keep track of the sessions you go to and your points throughout the conference, download this pdf…CFRE Point Tracker

Dig Deep to Elevate Your Message
Christina Nichols, MCR (Marketing Communication Resource, Inc.)

In this highly interactive session, Christina will help you dig into your institution’s “why” to elevate the message you use to solicit support. Attendees will walk away with a useful tool for digging into the story(ies) they tell.

Enhancing Your Direct Mail Efforts with Behavioral Economics
Jaclyn Pingel Day, UNC School of the Arts

Often our focus with direct mail is telling the perfect story; however, the best story in the world cannot save your solicitation if you don’t consider the context in which someone is making a decision. For the next hour, you’ll take a step away from the storytelling aspect of direct mail and learn more about the indirect influences that are a part of the decision-making process. By understanding these indirect influences, you can nudge prospects to give with small and easy steps.

Employee Giving – For the Love of Blue?
Gloria Goosby, Georgia Southern University

Georgia Southern has a highly-successful faculty and staff giving tradition, but faced
challenges when the University merged with Armstrong State University in January
2018. Learn how the annual giving team handled the marketing, communications and
execution of a multi-campus University giving campaign during a major university
transition, and bring your own faculty and staff questions, challenges and success

Fixing the Leaky Bucket — Addressing Issues in Donor Attrition
Alberto Perez, University of North Georgia
Jonathan Van Oss, Pledgemine 

Your donor file can be compared to a leaky bucket. New donors enter your bucket with a first-time gift and, hopefully, continue to give on a recurring basis. Unfortunately, donors often lapse in their giving and can be reacquired but is it worth it to do this? Learn how the University of North Georgia (and other institutions) are addressing issues of donor attrition through effective and proven direct marketing strategies. Also, learn about a 2018 study to develop a composite database to establish industry benchmarks and study donor attrition issues.

Fundraising in an Institution’s Anniversary Year
Kathryn Sherrod, The Porter-Gaud School

The Porter-Gaud School in Charleston recently celebrated its 150th anniversary year.   Kathryn Sherrod provides an overview of the School’s anniversary-year fundraising ideas and related birthday activities.  How do you leverage a school’s birthday for optimal advancement?

A Giving Day Forum
Chandler Thompson, Elon University

Best practices, lessons learned and what’s next in giving days? Come discuss how to get a giving day off the ground or how to keep it fresh several years in. Bring your giving day questions, tips, strategies and success stories to this open discussion with seasoned giving day experts.

Higher Education Disruption:
Change Is Happening and What We Do With It Is Up to Us

Tucker Branham CFRE, CDM

As of 2019, 800 small colleges are in financial crisis. Between 2007 and 2019, 93 small colleges have closed their doors, 23% of those in the last three years. The average tenure of the college president is on the decline, leading to widespread leadership transitions in higher education. No matter a big, medium, or small college or university, the crossroads of reduced financial viability and new leadership often brings the expectation and implementation of significant, system-wide change. Are you ready for it? What does it mean for you as an employee? As a fundraiser? As a uniter? You may not have the authority to drive these system changes, but how you receive and respond to the changes may make a difference in the future of your organization. In this session, we will look at these current and future changes through a different lens, helping to prepare us for what is to come and how we may use it to advance our organizations.

Closing Session:
A Look In The Annual Giving Crystal Ball  (No Handout)
(Panel Discussion with Jenny Alstad, College of Charleston, Shannon Dale, UNC Asheville, Jaclyn Day, UNC School of the Arts, and Laurie Soenen, College of Charleston.  Moderated by Bob Burdenski)

What’s coming over the horizon for annual giving fundraising, and what do we need to be ready? Data privacy, digital opportunities, changing giving methods, the quest for major gifts, business intelligence, and changing skill sets are all impacting the annual giving office. What will the Carolinas Annual Giving Conference program agenda look like in three years? Join a panel discussion on what’s next in our profession.

A Leadership Annual Giving Forum
Jenny Alstad, College of Charleston

Bring your questions as well as your best advice for contacting prospects, setting appointments, the discussion agenda, the materials, the follow-up, and yes – the request for a gift.   Learn about the College of Charleston’s leadership annual giving strategies and participate in a group discussion about leadership giving best practices today.

Now What, So What?  Understanding the Implications of the 2018 ANA Response Rate Report for the Nonprofit Advancement Officer
James Kopp and Kate Cominskey, Cathedral Corporation

In 2018, the Association of National Advertisers released a comprehensive response rate report detailing the performance and cost metrics for all domestic direct media programs. Outlining the aggregated response metrics to email, direct mail, social media and internet display mediums, this report provides a detailed and informative overview of the channel and response preferences of the American consumer. Applying a model of charitable decision making that aligns with the consumer decision making process, this program will present the implications of this report to the nonprofit advancement officer. Additionally, this program will provide an overview of best practices for attendees in the optimization of the media channels that are used to attract, solicit and retain donors.

A Phonathon Forum
McKenzie Durham, Clemson University

Bring your phonathon tips, strategies and success stories — as well as your questions — to this open discussion about all thing calling.  Who’s got tips for hiring, training, supervising, paying, rewarding, multi-tasking, and retaining your callers in today’s challenging phonathon environment?

Predictive Modeling for Annual Giving
Jonathan Brooks, Western Carolina University

Predictive modeling has been buzzing around for a few years, but do we understand what it does, how to develop a model that “works,” or how to make it actionable? Not all annual giving professionals are data scientists (and I’m not either)…but, the good news is we don’t have to be! We’ll answer the questions above and discuss how to incorporate models into our strategy.

Recent Graduate Giving: Inside Elon’s GOLD Challenge
Chandler Thompson, Elon University

Elon University just ended the year with a record 26% alumni participation rate, and some of the success was due to recent graduate giving. Learn how Elon used a special fundraising challenge for its “graduates of the last decade” (GOLD) alumni in the last month of the fiscal year that included a 48-hour deadline, a matching gift, Venmo, luggage tags and much more!

Old School to Future School: Making the Move to a Digital First Fundraising Strategy
Kim Lebar, University of Richmond
Scott Fry, Community Funded

A never-ending stream of speakers and thought leaders have been cajoling higher ed fundraisers to move their operations more fully into the digital arena. There have been successful efforts across the country, but overall the industry continues to lag behind the private sector in adopting a successful online and digital strategy.  Kim Lebar, the University of Richmond’s Director of Annual Giving, leads this session outlining the journey, the obstacles, and the successes in moving their shop to a digital first strategy. Kim will lead our conversation and address these questions:
• What does it mean to be digital first?
• What does look like in practice? Where can it take us?
• Can we blend online giving with major gifts in a comprehensive online strategy?
This is not a “here’s what we did, it worked, are there any questions” kind of session. Bring your ideas and your thinking caps for a lively discussion on the current state and future of donor acquisition and engagement in annual giving.

A Student Philanthropy Panel
Lauren King, UNC Wilmington, Justin Ferrell, University of Utah, and Jonathan Brooks, Western Carolina University (Moderated by Jaclyn Day, UNC School of the Arts)

More than a Gift: Texting Strategies For Annual Giving
Emily Porter, UNC Charlotte

Many universities are struggling to get in front of their alumni and donors who are inundated with emails from retailers, other organizations seeking support, and everyone else. During this session, UNC Charlotte will explain how they introduced a new way to communicate with alumni and donors through texting. Different than ‘Text to Give’, UNC Charlotte uses a platform that allows person-to-person texting and is able to get their message in front of audiences within minutes. With statistics like ‘90% of text messages are read within the first 3 minutes’, there are creative ways to get your university’s message out via a text message.

Breaking Through to All Audiences:
Increasing Participation Through Peer Engagement

Kestrel Linder, GiveCampus

The days when donors would send a check simply based on their institutional loyalty are fading. Today’s donors (millennials especially) want to know that their gift is making an impact and that they are part of a community helping to move the institution forward. Kestrel Linder will illuminate the case study against a backdrop of data drawn from the digital fundraising of 600+ schools (K-12 and higher ed) and encompassing more than $150 million in online giving by more than 1.5 million donors. 

Upon completion, participants will be able to:

1. Think creatively about how they can empower their volunteers and cross-campus stakeholders to become advocates for the institution and help increase engagement and participation.

2. More effectively use tools available to all institutions (e.g. Facebook, digital video, Apple Pay, etc.) to better reach and empower their communities online.

Opening Keynote:
Twenty Lightbulbs in Sixty Minutes: Some Favorite New Annual Giving Ideas of the Year
Bob Burdenski, Robert Burdenski Annual Giving and Moderator, FundList

Long-time CAGC friend and CASE Innovations in Annual Giving book series author Bob Burdenski returns with a new batch of his favorite annual giving examples, strategies and solutions from the past year. From New England to New Zealand, see the institutions that pushed the envelope (and the email, the phone call, social media, and every other channel) in getting their story told and inspiring their prospects to give. Whether they were filling their pipeline or pursuing participation, see a rapid-fire rundown of who had good ideas this year.

When Disaster Strikes:  Fundraising in a Hurricane, Riots, and Tragedies
Lauren King, UNC Wilmington and and Shayna Long, UNC Charlotte

Disaster could strike at any moment. Would you be ready? Over the past few years, UNC Wilmington and UNC Charlotte have both come face-to-face with disasters on their campuses. Hear how their annual giving shops took action in order to build a connection between those who wanted to give support and those that needed it the most. How did the team manage basic operations and determine the appropriate course of action? What did it do with a sudden new case for gift support? Hear their stories, some lessons learned and words of advice about what to do when calamity comes calling from UNCW’s Lauren King and UNC Charlotte’s Shayna Long.

Your Interest, Your Impact:  University of South Carolina Crowdfunding
Amanda Hamilton  and Nicole Lindberg, University of South Carolina

Whether crowdfunding is an established part of your fundraising program or you’re giving it some thought, learn what the University of South Carolina is doing to impact their Annual Giving program. From reunion giving to senior class gifts to study abroad trips to hurricane relief, see how you can use a digital platform to elevate your online giving, one story at a time.