2021 Conference Sessions

Opening and Conference Welcome
SEAGC Conference Committee
Your Southeast Annual Giving Conference committee will offer its virtual thanks to all of this year’s speakers, sponsors and attendees. 

Opening Panel Discussion:  How’s Annual Giving, and How Are You?
Juan McGruder, Oglethorpe University, Errica Arroyo, University of Miami, 
Cory Howat, Archdiocese of New Orleans, Bea Walters Smith, Spartanburg Community College and Laurie Soenen, College of Charleston (Moderator)
A great group of thought leaders representing schools, colleges, community colleges, and universities will kick us off with a chat about some current topics in annual giving and our profession.   

An Introduction to Annual Giving:
Exploring the Art and Science of Building a Successful Annual Giving Program
Susan Cowart, Auburn University
Auburn University’s Susan Cowart has seen a lot of small-shop and big-shop annual giving evolution over the years, but many of the basic goals and objectives haven’t changed much. If you’re new to annual giving, or serve another role at your institution, or just want a little context to go with your Southeast Annual Giving Conference, join Susan for some insights about the art of writing a compelling fundraising appeal and the science of evaluating your program and developing an annual giving production plan.

AI for Annual Fund Giving: Own The Fiscal Year & Getting MGOs Involved

Kat McCarron, Gravyty
You’re one month into the fiscal year. How are you going to win it? Gravyty’s Kat McCarron will share how colleges and universities are using artificial intelligence (AI) to retain more donors, but most importantly, up-level donors to mid-level and major giving pipelines. Speaking of major giving pipelines, how do you get your MGOs to make a difference for the annual fund? Kat will share hybrid portfolio approaches that universities are using to break silos, spread a culture of philanthropy, and (most importantly) accelerate and increase giving outcomes.

A Community College Fundraising Forum
Bea Walters Smith, Spartanburg Community College
with Bob Burdenski
Join Bea and Bob for a guided discussion all about today’s fundraising opportunities and challenges at community and technical colleges.  

Create a Brand and Buy-In For Your Giving Day
Michelle Mullins, College of  Charleston and Amy Irwin, GiveGab
Michelle will be presenting with Amy on how CofC created brand awareness and buy in amongst their campus partners during their 2020 and 2021 Giving Days. Michelle will discuss how working with GiveGab team enhanced the donor experience and allowed her to focus her time on donor engagement and stewardship.

A Crowdfunding Forum
Kristy Henry, Mitchell’s Place
Brittany Staggers, Virginia Tech University
Crowdfunding – or thinking about it?  Join Kristy and Brittany for a forum all about crowdfunding success stories and strategies.  

Direct Mail Recipes – Add Spice to All Your Channels
Christina Brandel, CFRE, Marketing Communication Resource, Inc.
Stuck in an appeal rut? Want to spice things up but can’t seem to find the right recipe that pulls in all your favorite channels? Join in a conversation about how to use your favorite “ingredients” to spice up all your appeals.

A Direct Response Fundraising Forum
Ann Lehman, Virginia Tech University
Shannon Dale, Grand Valley State University

A Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Advancement Forum
Gloria Goosby, Furman University, Cameron Hall, Texas Tech University System, 

James Forte, Delta State University, Clarybel Paguero, EdD, Duke University
Join us for a closing 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. 

DXOs —How to Reach More Donors 1-to-1, Increase Retention and
Find New Major Gift Leads
Aarika Gunn, Western Kentucky University, Devin Ferguson, Louisiana Tech University, 
Mike Nagel, EverTrue
At the average university, only 2.8% of constituents are assigned to a major gift officer. And only 46% of these prospects had one-on-one conversations with the institution in the last year. Without consistent outreach, the high-net worth donors of today (and major gift donors of tomorrow) are being neglected by our institutions.  The mass-appeal strategies we’ve always used aren’t good enough for these high value donors. Donor Experience Officers are here to build relationships with this “missing middle” by combining a donor first approach with the right data and technology.  This session will highlight Donor Experience Programs at two institutions: Louisiana Tech University and Western Kentucky University. Attendees will hear from Devin Ferguson after LA Tech’s first year with a DX Program, during which they were able to regularly interact with 3,000+ previously unreached donors and increase the number of managed donors by 400%.  WKU’s Aarika Gunn will share how her team has shifted away from the traditional phonathon to launch a Student Donor Experience Officer program. WKU SDXOs have successfully turned dinnertime interruptions and cold calls into personalized, delightful donor conversations white creating a talent pipeline for new fundraisers.  Attendees will learn the impact Donor Experience Officers can have, as well as strategies they can use at their institutions immediately.

Engaging International Alumni Networks
Alex Washington, George Washington University
International alumni programming was easily reimagined for the virtual world we found ourselves in last Spring, but uniting our networks for a common goal has proved a bit more challenging. Learn how GW has begun taking steps to unite their international alumni networks to develop more cohesive strategic engagement plan for the future.

Engaging Young Alumni on Their Level
Rebecca Hogge, Randolph College
Today’s young alumni are, without a doubt, the hardest group to engage on the idea of giving back to their alma mater, financially. As another fundraising professional once said,  “throw spaghetti to the wall and see what sticks.” In this session we will explore methods and opportunities for engaging young alumni, in a language that THEY understand.

A Giving Day on a Grand Scale: The #iGiveCatholic Story
Cory Howat, Archdiocese of New Orleans and #iGiveCatholic
It was a victory in 2015 when Cory Howat launched the first giving day for the Archdiocese of New Orleans.  It’s now grown to an annual Catholic fundraising event in all 50 states (and 12 countries) with nearly 50,000 donors and $12 million raised in 2020.   Faith-based fundraising isn’t always the most innovative and cutting-edge, which makes #iGiveCatholic’s success story all the more remarkable.  What giving day tools, strategies and words of advice does Cory have for the rest of us, and what ideas are transferable to our own institutions? 

A Session of Sessions: 
Favorite Clips of Wisdom From a Year’s Worth of Zoom Conferences 
Bob Burdenski, Robert Burdenski Annual Giving
CASE Laureate Bob Burdenski has chaired Zoom conferences, moderated Zoom forums, seen a lot of shared samples and generally had a front-row seat to see who pushed the virtual envelope this past year.  Join Bob for a video clip celebration of his favorite words of wisdom and smart ideas from the practitioners themselves.  And he’ll be joined by a few of them live to hear “the rest of their story.”  Do they want to revise their advice?   

A Leadership Annual Giving Forum
Smilka Melgoza, Florida International University
Brian Rowe, College of Charleston
Colin Cumming, American Institute of Chemical Engineers
You’ve got a portfolio of leadership annual gift prospects in a Zoom world. How do you identify your prospects, engage with them, ask meaningful questions, learn about prospect interests, ask for a gift, say thank you (or not), remember everything you just learned, follow up and then do it all again? It’s an open forum about all things formerly-face-to-face fundraising and the leadership annual giving fundraisers who are finding success while navigating in a Zoom world.

Moving Your Institution Forward Boldly
Susan Peirce and Alisa Karten, Pine Crest School (FL)
More than getting through or “weathering the storm,” our advancement program boldly set out in the pandemic to emerge stronger. Because that is what we expect of our students and alumni!  In this session, all of us will share and explore key strategies that have emerged and are transforming our advancement programs. This conversation is about turning closures and restrictions into extraordinary possibilities.

Moving Yourself Forward Boldly
Susan Peirce and Alisa Karten, Pine Crest School (FL)
These sixteen months have tested us, given time for reflection, inspired new skills, and created new connections. In this session, participants will share and explore professional and learning strategies that have emerged and, when embraced, could transform career paths. This conversation is about making the most of your unique skills, interests, and passions to make a meaningful difference. Whether you are seeking change for yourself or you are coaching and mentoring others, this conversation is about bold strategies to yield professional fulfillment, happiness, and success. After all, that is what we hope for our students and alumni!

New Donor Dos and Don’ts: Acquisition & Retention Lessons We’ve Learned 
Laura White, University of Miami

The Nuts and Bolts of an Employee and Retiree Annual Giving Campaign (E/RAGC)
Tracy Coleman, University of South Alabama
Bring your questions and your suggestions for an open discussion on all things Employee and Retiree Annual Giving AKA Faculty Staff Campaign.  Planning, Training, Communicating, Engaging, Stewarding… What you need to know to get it off the ground?
The basics tools needed to put into action a successful campaign.  What changes are taking place since the inception of the pandemic?  How can you move forward?  And any other E/RAGC topics you wish to bring to the forum.

Pandemic in Progress?  Push “Pause”
Jamie Brandon, DNP, RN, CNE, UNC Charlotte
All disasters progress through phases of preparation, response and recovery. How well you handle each one can go a long way toward maximizing your physical and mental health. Join UNC Charlotte self-care expert Dr. Jamie Brandon DNP, RN, CNE and learn about six personal self-care pathways you need to develop to manage disasters. She’ll talk about the importance of a disaster plan in your family life, and the importance of vaccinations in the current pandemic.

Rival Week Challenges
Rachel Miller and Angela Harn, Georgia Southern University

The Search for the Unrestricted Giving Unicorn
Bob Burdenski, Laurie Soenen, College of Charleston, Shayna Long, UNC Charlotte and Jaclyn Day, UNC College of Fine Arts
Some say it’s impossible.  These days, many say it’s necessary.   The elusive unrestricted gift may be more valued now than ever, yet it remains  a challenging (some say impossible!) goal for many annual giving programs. Four panelists, armed only with examples and ideas from across the education fundraising spectrum, set out to discover whether or not unrestricted gifts can still exist, and how other institutions successfully attract (and keep) them.  

Setting Student Fundraisers up for Success
Rachel Spencer, Vanilla Soft
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-focused session will ensure that you and your team are set up for maximum success.

Small Shop Annual Fund: From Zero to Hero
James Forte and Rick Munroe, Delta State University

A “Student Engagement Center” Forum
Jaclyn Day, UNC School of Arts

Swag in a Zoom World
Brian and Amy 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.

Turn Off The TV – What To Do With All These Channels
Jaclyn Day – Annual Giving Manager – University of North Carolina School of the Arts
Jonathan Van Oss – Director of Consulting & Analytics – Pledgemine
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 University of North Carolina School of the Arts successfully targeted and connected with their donors and prospects despite a global pandemic in their 2021 Day of Giving.

Using Data to Implement Strategy and Drive Decisions
Alison Mercer and Michael Rohling, Georgia State University
Data can be complex, extensive, confusing, and intimidating. Data can also be your greatest asset to engage your constituents. In this session, you will learn creative ways to segment your audiences and use data to develop messaging for lapsed and non-donor populations. We will discuss how to identify data points that may already be hidden in your CRM, how to obtain data directly from your constituents, and how to leverage and scale different types of data to effectively engage your donors. The presentation will cover strategies and methodology for measuring results and reporting your findings through organizational examples and case studies. Join us for a lively conversation on getting your former donors back in the door and acquire new ones for your institution. Extensive experience working with data is not required.

What Next For Text? A Texting Forum
Sharon Horinka, UNC Charlotte
Rachel Cleary, GetThru
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.   Sharon and Rachel will lead a chat about how to make P2P texting work for your institution.

Women Leading Philanthropy
Geneva Longlois-Marney, Newcombe Institute, Tulane University