Going to AFP? 10 Sessions You Can’t Miss

Rachel Muir, CFRE, is a guest contributor for Nonprofit Hub. She is Vice President of Training at Pursuant where she transforms individuals into confident, successful fundraisers through classroom, custom and online training. When she was 26 years old, Rachel Muir launched Girlstart, a nonprofit 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.


I’m packing my bags and counting down the days to AFP International in Boston. I hope you’ll come say hi to me in one of my sessions: “Relationship Fundraising” at 12:30 pm on Sunday with Adrian Sargeant and Jay Love, or “Why Midlevel Donors are Sweeter than Christmas Morning” with Mark Rovner and Mohit Pramanik at 3:15 pm on Tuesday. We’ve got lots of free fundraising goodies waiting for you at the Pursuant booth 1216, so come say hi!

Spending three days getting inspired by fundraising thought leaders and seeing “best of” campaigns from around the world is like my own personal Christmas. Last year’s AFP boasted a star-studded keynote lineup with Seth Godin, Whoopi Goldberg and Isabel Allende but my favorite session was “Everything You Know about Donor Decision Making is Wrong” by Alan Hutson and Bernard Ross. Who am I most excited to see this year? The list is long! Enjoy my cheat sheet of can’t miss sessions in alphabetical order.

1. Tom Ahern

Monday, March 21, 9:30 am

Tuesday, March 22, 3:15 pm

I am a mega fan of Tom Ahern (who isn’t?). Even if you’ve already seen his “Loverizing Your Donor” presentation before, there are new guaranteed pearls of wisdom every time. This year he’s also doing a session on “Making Money on Facebook: Yes, it can be done.”

2. Roger Craver, Editor The Agitator

Monday, March 21, 9:30 am

I’m a huge fan of Roger’s book, Retention Fundraising: The Art and Science of Keeping Your Donors for Life and excited for his session on “Rebels with Causes – Fundraising as a Driver of Social Change”.

3. NPExperts: Shanon Doolittle (Shanon Doolittle + Co.) & Mark Rovner (Sea Change Strategies)

Sunday, March 20, 10:15 am

Two of my all-time favorite humans TOGETHER in one session? It’s like fundraising is throwing a party and everyone’s invited! Shanon is pure fundraising joy and Mark is like the defense attorney for great donor experiences. Ready to get inspired with great stewardship ideas and a renewed passion for fundraising? Join them for “The Future of Fundraising NP Experts panel”. You can also see Shanon as part of another dynamic duo with the incomparable Beth Ann Locke in their session “10 Habits of Highly Successful Fundraisers”.

4. Anne Melvin, Director of Training and Education at Harvard

Sunday, March 20, 10:15 am

Anne’s session “The Art and Science of Fundraising Persuasion” promises to show us how to apply social science principles to get donors to a yes.

5. Mark Rovner (Sea Change Strategies) & Mohit Pramanik, Save the Children Canada

Tuesday, March 22, 3:15 pm

I’m honored to get to partner with these two in “Why Midlevel Donors are Sweeter than Christmas Morning”. Join us to get tools, insight and inspiration to launch a successful midlevel program.

6. Adrian Sargeant, Director of the Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy

Sunday, March 20, 12:30 pm

I’m honored to get to present with Adrian, Jay Love and Ian MacQuillin in Relationship Fundraising: Where do we go from here? Join us to get critical insight into the donor journey and what strategies work best when! You’ve got two more chances to see Adrian at this years AFP, in the Rebels, Renegades & Pioneer’s Session: “You can’t be truly a profession without academic research.” Or is fundraising somehow the exception? and “You Can Raise Major Gifts at Your Small Shop: Research Proven Methods and Best Practices” with Amy Eisenstein and Jay Love.

7. Stephen Pidgeon

Monday, March 21, 3:30pm

I love Stephen’s book Love Your Donors to Death and expect great things from his copy clinic “Be More Creative in Communication with Supporters”.

8 Bernard Ross and Alan Hutson

Monday, March 21, 8:00 am

Last year these two knocked it out of the park in their standing room only session on behavioral economics and the great news is they are back in “Behavioral Economics: the Science of Fundraising Psychology”. Catch Bernard in another session with Angela Cluff “Global Fundraising: 5 campaigns that will change your ideas.”

9. Steven Shattuck

Sunday, March 20, 2:00 pm

I am a huge fan of Steven and expect his session, “The Art and Science of Retaining Digital Donors” will be a huge hit.

10. Gail Perry

Sunday, March 20, 12:30 pm

Nonprofits struggling to get their board members fundraising can look forward to some hands on help in Gail’s session, “Teach Your Board Members to Open Doors to New Major Gifts Prospects”.

AFP 2016

Rachel Muir

March 15, 2016

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