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    By Drew Fox Jordan • January 26, 2021

    Gravyty at AFPMA's Fundraising Week in Boston: Our Favorite Sessions

    During this year’s AFPMA Fundraising Week In Boston, Gravyty is attending some of the amazing sessions lined up this week. We know you can't attend every session, so hopefully you can get caught up with some recaps from sessions you couldn't make it to. 

    Gravyty Featured as Sponsor at This Year's AFPMA Conference

    Here are the sessions the Gravyty team has enjoyed so far:

    Successfully Launching a Fundraising Initiative in Uncertain Times: Guiding Principles and Case Studies from Large and Small Shops

    When your strategic vision and mission require transformational philanthropy to solve critical issues, how do you plan for, design, and implement major fundraising initiatives in a virtual environment amid uncertain political and economic predictions? Sarah Krasin of CCS led a combination of panel discussion and breakouts that include development leaders from large fundraising shops and small fundraising shops to share tools and case studies from organizations that have launched successful initiatives and raised millions of dollars since March.

    Julie Gray, from Dana Hall School, discussed being authentic with the community you serve, and how her team created the COVID Relief Fund, was inspirational and has helped to build stronger foundations with their staff and community.

    Melissa Cording, from Bridge Over Troubled Waters, shared her story about how after having to cancel all in-person meetings early in the year, they gathered their leadership and board to help shape and define the vision of the organization so that they were ready to hit the ground running when summer came.

    Our takeaway: leadership/board involvement is crucial (not just during a pandemic) and communication should be ongoing, and staying authentic with your community will always build deeper stronger relationships.

    Donor Retention in Times of Uncertainty

    Retaining donors during normal times (if such a thing can exist) is already a challenge. For the past five years, the first-time donor retention rate has been dropping consistently, and now flirts with a percentage in the high teens. With the recent pandemic, certain elements of the fundraiser's toolkit are now unavailable: in-person events, face-to-face meetings, and even some aspects of direct mail. During this tumultuous and unprecedented time, what can fundraisers do to maintain donor support in a world that seems upside down? This interactive panel of high-performing organizations revealed key elements of successful donor retention and stewardship strategies -- from email content to virtual events and meetings – and how fundraisers can stay positive during trying times.

    Based off of the successes Steven Shattuck, Chief Engagement Officer at Bloomerang saw with some of its customers, he highlighted 5 things that “worked”:

    1. Don't stop fundraising
    2. Segment communications
    3. Double down on stewardship
    4. Employ the personal touch
    5. Be decisive and creative with events

    Shattuck left us with some comforting words: "There’s no such thing as a non-essential charity - whether you’re on the front lines or not, your organization matters, so it’s always worth making the ask."

    Donor Retention in Times of Uncertainty

    Fundraising is a team sport. Institutions continually need to align their internal teams with their mission, needs and resources. The past year has made apparent how institutions have to constantly adapt to ever changing and unexpected events if they are to survive and thrive. In this candid conversation with the development and programmatic leadership at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts we will learn more about how institutions strategize, innovate, and deploy their assets to ensure securing philanthropic gifts that will have the greatest impact on their organization, the community and their mission.

    Of all of the nonprofit sectors that have had to pivot to deliver programs during COVID, few are impacted as distinctly as arts and culture. However, instead of just reacting to this already daunting situation, this amazing group of professionals made a choice to also make sure they found a way to be inclusive of their entire diverse community.

    In doing so, not only are they delivering exceptional digital artistic and cultural experiences for their donors and members, but they are actively healing their entire community and attracting more involvement from people that may not have originally been affiliated with the museum.

    Our takeaway: collaboration and prioritization are the key to success in an ever changing environment, and that development professionals are like artists – constantly imagining and creating new landscapes to usher their donors through the giving experience and its impact!

    Identity-Based Fundraising ~ Pot of Gold, No Leprechaun Required

    "Why should I give you my hard-earned money?" Answer this question well ... and you will never be short of funds. Answer it poorly ... and fundraising becomes an unholy struggle. In case you missed it, Tom outlined that the sole purpose of donor communications is..... to make your donor feel great!

    Giving is based on emotion, and making that emotional connection with your donor community is the key that inspires them to give. What's more, your personalized stewardship messaging will inspire them to become long term donors.

    Discovery in the Age of Zoom

    The hardest part of a front-line fundraiser's job is getting that first contact, that first meeting. It was difficult enough before the pandemic, but with an added layer of the limitations we are all now facing about in-person meetings (not doing them, doing them through video chat, doing them through audio calls, attempting to meet out of doors) takes this challenge to new levels. Or does it? 

    Our takeaway: Be creative! Find what works for your donors - whether its virtual meetings, socially distanced in-person/outdoor meetings, text messages, LinkedIn, or video messages. But however you connect, be genuine and you will reap the benefits.

    Have you attended any sessions you found interesting? Let us know which ones!

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