2023 Conference Sessions

We’ll have more than 30 sessions, so check back for additional sessions, session descriptions and the complete schedule. Speakers are unlikely to change – but they might.

An Introduction to Annual Giving and the Northeast Annual Giving Conference
(Monday Afternoon Pre-Conference Workshop)
Skylar Beaver, The Lawrenceville School

There’s a special FREE preconference workshop on Monday afternoon, March 27th, featuring recognized annual giving expert and NEAGC hall-of-famer Skylar Beaver teaching a special “Introduction to Annual Giving… and NEAGC” workshop. This pre-conference program is FREE, but is a bonus session only for those attendees coming in-person to NEAGC in Baltimore. We’ll talk about the evolving goals, methods, channels, messages, metrics — and the very idea of “annual giving” itself. Pack up your newbies (or your “oldbies” in need of a refresh)!

Anatomy of a Digital End-of-Year Campaign
Stephanie Rasamny, MainSpring Media Communications

Calendar year end campaigns are critical to our annual giving efforts. Thirty percent of individual charitable giving in the US occurs in December, and nearly half of online giving for the year is secured the final week of December. To capitalize on these trends, we need to have a strong digital plan in place and we need set our plans in motion well before December. In this session, we’ll dissect a calendar year end campaign – strategy, engaging, warming and closing. Our focus will be on digital tools though we will touch on how to integrate other channels. You’ll walk away with key takeaways and action items to set your team up for success for the EOCY FY24.

Best Job on Campus: Why Students Belong in Annual Giving
Emily Etzkorn, VanillaSoft

Student employees are a critical piece of education annual giving programs. In this session, Emily Etzkorn, Fundraising Evangelist with VanillaSoft, will look at the benefits of having students as part of the annual giving office – even if you don’t have an engagement center. She’ll look at the importance of recruiting, training, and coaching of students to make them an effective and integral part of the annual giving team.

Building the Future Donor Pipeline – Successful YA and Student Philanthropy Topics
Marissa Fitzgerald, Fairfield University, Madeline Sanzo, University of Connecticut Foundation and Others TBA

The next generation of alumni volunteers and donors are as closer to you than any other group. Cultivating relationships with current students and the most recent alumni can lead to a lifetime of alumni engagement and dedication to giving back. Join us as we work through approaches, success stories and tales of caution from 3 different categories of institutions who have put the work into tackling this dynamic, elusive, differently-responsive group of soon to be and recent alumni. Whether you are from a team of a hundred or a team of 10 – this session will help you walk away with tips to educate, engage, and empower your students and most recent graduates into becoming your institution’s leaders of tomorrow.

Cause-Based Crowdfunding: A Crowdfunding System to Educate and inspire
Jon Gregory, Cornell University

Crowdfunding does so much more than provide a vehicle for affinity based fundraising. It’s an opportunity to provide education through action. Think of our work with students as experiential learning–we are not just planting the seeds for our next group of alumni volunteers and donors, but giving them life skills by teaching them how to execute a turn-key fundraising plan. Our student centric crowdfunding program has become a cornerstone for student and young alumni donor growth and education. Learn about the timeline, trainings, checklists, and toolkit the Big Red uses as Cornell approaches its tenth year of Cornell Crowdfunding!

Direct Mail: Start Looking at Your Appeals from Your Donor’s Perspective
Paul Barry, Cape Cod Mail Group

Direct mail continues to generate significant annual giving revenue, yet many institutions don’t focus on it as they once did. The reason? They’re convinced that, in an increasingly mobile society, “No One Reads Mail Anymore”. In this session, we take exception to this belief by challenging you to see things from your donor’s perspective. We’ll suggest strategic shifts in the way you engage current and prospective donors to ensure your mail program remains a viable (and cost-effective) source of annual giving revenue in FY23 and beyond.

Direct Mail: Tips, Tricks, and Tactics
Matt Sulzer, MCR

Is it time to spice up your approach? Direct mail is fundamental to building the donor pipeline, but with new channels in the mix it may be time to revisit your mail strategy. Join this conversation to discuss printing hallmarks that target the right people, grab donor attention, calendar the project, and integrate storytelling to optimize results. Attendees will receive free samples from other institutions and gain insights on:
✔ Audiences – segmenting, engagement, personalization
✔ Calendaring – channel integration, production, timing
✔ Design – photos, layout, color
✔ Packaging – envelopes, paper stocks, inserts

Don’t Corner Yourself
Dawn Baumgarten, Jennifer Boscia Smith, Kristen Murphy and Nicole Shepherd
The University at Buffalo

If Annual Giving was a square, there are corners for engagement, communication, solicitation and stewardship, all meeting in the middle. Learn how the University at Buffalo team works in harmony to support the annual giving strategy.

Fundraising BS: Leveraging Behavioral Science to Drive Donor Conversion Rates
Felicity Meu, GiveCampus

Making it easier for donors to give may just be the most effective strategy in the savvy fundraiser’s toolkit—and we’ve got the conversion metrics (and science!) to prove it. In this session, we’ll show you how applying classic principles of persuasion science to your everyday fundraising challenges can dramatically improve donor engagement and move the needle on dollars raised. Using the Fogg Behavior Model as a framework for understanding donor motivation and ability, Felicity Meu will share the simple strategies you can implement to achieve impressive real-world results.

Let’s Talk About Digital Gift Officers – a Forum
Janelle Stevenson, University of Connecticut

What’s all the fuss about DGO/DXOs? Is this an entry-level position or something for more mid-level fundraisers? Should it be full-time or “other duties as assigned”? Could this replace your phone program? Attendees should come away with a better idea of how they can leverage this emerging role as part of their program.

A Love Connection: Annual Giving & Engagement within an Advancement Model
Colin Hennessey, University of Iowa Foundation

Annual giving and constituent engagement haven’t always been close friends – they may have even been frenemies. Today, with more shops moving to an advanced model, we can’t afford to take our toys and go home. We must find every opportunity to work together, leverage resources, and align goals to move forward. In this session, we will discuss how to work with your engagement colleagues, add value for both teams, and ultimately deepen the relationship with your audience. Hear examples of success, failure, and lessons learned. You’ll walk away with ideas to test and tools to help advance your internal relationships to advance your organizational mission.

Planning & Executing a Successful Giving Day Campaign
Alyssa Breunig, Quinnipiac University

An overview about planning and executing a successful giving day campaign, including:
– Niche audiences and programs beyond an overall institution giving day (i.e. athletics);
– The importance of early engagement of alumni, parents and other advocates,
– Gaining internal staff (ex: athletic coaches) buy-in;
– The importance of social media promotion and segmentation

Phonathons & Engagement Centers – Oh the Possibilities!
Angie Myers, LEAD Philanthropy

It’s no secret that the pressure is on to find the optimal way to connect with your alumni. What is the best strategy? Calling? Personalized videos? Texting? Emails? Hear about effective ways to maximize our amazing student employees. Join us for “How do you evolve your Phonathon into an Engagement Center?” as we discuss adapting our efforts to make our student fundraisers successful.

Rebooting Your Direct Mail Program
Dulcie Meyer, Hobart and William Smith Colleges

At Hobart and William Smith, for many years direct mail solicitations were inconsistent, vague, and written by non-fundraisers. As a result, giving and participation suffered. After working with an annual fund consultant, Hobart and William Smith’s direct mail program has completely turned around. Dulcie Meyer will share what they are doing differently, how well it’s working, lessons learned, and a checklist for direct mail success.

The Recurring Riddle of Regular Giving
Bob Burdenski

We’ve chased the elusive, effective recurring giving program for years. We’re proud that we can set up a recurring gift, but most educational institutions (and other not-for-profits) still struggle to attract significant numbers of recurring gift (monthly or otherwise) donors. There are successes to be found in other sectors (PBS) and even other countries (UK). What are the obstacles – and solutions – here in the U.S.? Come and see a collection of recurring giving strategies for promoting, stewarding, recognizing and sustaining a recurring donor base. Bob will share a range of samples and solutions from other institutions.

The Spaghetti Method: Creative Brainstorming to See What Sticks
Diana Forbus, University of Maryland

In this active session, participants will work in small groups on creative brainstorming exercises, ultimately applying these skills to answer a “”How Might We…”” question around an Annual Giving topic. The idea of this session is not to necessarily walk away with the perfect one-size-fits-all answer, but to explore the possibilities that emerge when you foster an environment of creative thinking. Often when we’re thinking about fundraising we get bogged down by what is feasible, dismissing ideas that just won’t work and end up with familiar results. In this session, participants will generate answers to the question and evaluate these ideas (good and bad, creative and wacky, unknown and familiar) for potential, and develop them for feasibility. It’s really easy for people to pre-judge their own ideas as weird and therefore wrong, when we should be comfortable throwing out ideas, no matter what. Oftentimes, some of the most creative ideas come from saying yes and then seeing if you can make something work instead of just automatically saying no.

Tips & Trends from Record-Breaking Giving Days
Colleen Cook, Vinyl Marketing & Kristi Pease, University of Nebraska Foundation

Giving Days are a tried and true way to engage and acquire donors, especially when it comes to young alumni. But what distinguishes the schools that are achieving record-breaking levels of donors and dollars from those that tread water year after year? In this session Kristi Pease, Senior Director, Marketing and Annual Campaign Operations and Director of Annual Campaigns at University of Nebraska Lincoln and Colleen Cook, Director of Operations at Vinyl Marketing break down the strategies and tactics to make your Day of Giving a smashing success.

Tips for Designing A/B Tests and Pitfalls to Avoid
Ramy Rahal, Franklin and Marshall College

This session will be a beginner- to intermediate-level crash course in designing marketing tests to better understand what works and what doesn’t for your institution. Attendees will come away with a checklist of all the elements of a good A/B test, along with an understanding of some common mistakes that annual giving professionals make that can invalidate the findings of your test. We’ll also talk about some tools that can be helpful in executing your A/B test.

Topping Off the Pyramid: Annual Leadership Gifts
Tammie Ruda, West Wind Consulting

Institutions are always looking to their annual funds to provide them with a growing source of income. While annual fund teams are usually expected to pay attention to 100% of the prospect pool, 90% of the dollars received typically come from only 10% of the donors. In this session, we’ll give ourselves the opportunity to focus on that 10% and talk about proven ways to identify, cultivate, solicit, and steward these top potential donors to maximize their support for your institution. Whether your school’s leadership gifts start at $250 or $2,500, this session will apply to you.

Transforming Your Annual Giving Processes
Elizabeth Keppel and Aly Harant, The Johns Hopkins University

Follow the transformative business process improvements that enable a high-volume annual giving shop to operate at its highest possible efficiency. Presenters will break down a year in review of project management enhancements, including: mapping out current/former workflows, identifying inefficiencies, implementing solutions, and measuring progress. Attendees should come away armed with the right questions to ask and the best steps to take to get their annual giving team running like a well-oiled machine.

Volunteer Management Across the Decades: Using Customized Approaches
Dominique Marcial-Clark, The Lawrenceville School

As much as we’d like to believe our volunteer programs are a one-size fits all approach, that’s oftentimes not the reality when we are working with cross-generational volunteers. Join The Lawrenceville School’s Associate Director of Reunion and Class Campaigns to explore tailor-made volunteer programs for age-based cohorts (excluding Young Alumni) from job description to volunteer stewardship. Attendees will develop an understanding of custom solicitation messaging, media platform usage, and communication styles and strategies for both groups of volunteers.