My AFP ICON Experience in San Antonio, TX (March 31-Apr 2, 2019)
By Walter Noble, 2019 Chamberlain Scholarship Recipient
You’ve heard of the old saying “Everything is bigger in Texas.” Well it certainly held true at AFP’s ICON in the city of San Antonio last month. I have never attended a conference this big – 3,400 delegates!
It was so exciting to see and meet so many fundraising professionals around the world. I sat beside and spoke with fundraisers from across the United States, Mexico, England, China and Canada.
The knowledge transfer that took place over the three days was simply inspirational to say the least. Below is a recap of what I experienced and learned as a Chamberlain scholarship recipient.
The Opening keynote speaker was Spencer West who is well known in the philanthropy sector. He is a magnificent storyteller and adventure seeker. If you get a chance to see him, do it! One of his comments that stuck with me the most was he said, as fundraisers, we need to take time and refocus and don’t forget why we are doing what we do. Keep thinking big and great things will happen!
I was amazed at the variety of workshops available. There were topics covering all aspects of fundraising so you never were at a loss to learn something new.
Below is a sample of some of the sessions I attended that were relevant and interesting to me. Many of the sessions not only reinforced things you already knew to some extent but also they presented new innovative ways to do things differently by making a few changes and prevent you and your organization from getting too stale.
- A guide to mid-level donors
- Amplifying your storytelling
- New trends in donor stewardship
- Small shop survival guide
- Five step foolproof method for any ask
- Measuring fundraising effectiveness
- Designing board meetings that elicit governance and fundraising
The closing keynote speaker was Soledad O’Brien. I remember her from her NBC reporting days. She is a fabulous storyteller and she reminded everyone that every day there are wonderful stories to be told from the work that each of us do as fundraisers. She inspired us to keep telling your story in our own unique way to continue to build a stronger culture of philanthropy.
Other fun activities throughout the conference that got everyone networking with each other was the red and white reception for Canadian delegates on Sunday night and on Monday night the conference hosted their Viva Fiesta reception, This was a chance for the city of San Antonio to show off their unique culture with entertainment and Tex-Mex cuisine. A fun time indeed!
This entire conference experience was one of reflection. I often thought of how can our foundation improve what we do now and better prepare for future needs that will help brighten the lives of more children living in child welfare. The common theme I heard throughout the conference that resonated with me was donor stewardship and retention. So much so that we are implementing a new process to better retain and thank our donors who give so generously.
I want to again thank the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy and the Ottawa Chapter of AFP for granting me with the Chamberlain Scholarship that made my experience at the 2019 AFP ICON possible! I will continue to reflect back on this experience to help build a stronger Children’s Aid Foundation of Ottawa that will continue to help more children and youth in Ottawa in the future!
Lastly, I encourage you to apply for the 2020 Champlain Scholarship this Fall to attend the AFP ICON in Baltimore next spring. It will bring a whole new perspective to the work you do for the better!
To apply for the 2020 Chamberlain Scholarship, download this application form.