Throughout the entire 2015 APRA International conference, I felt so fortunate to be there and to be a part of it all as the APRA-MN Fellow. Despite waking up sick as a dog the morning we left for New Orleans, the experience was fantastic!
There are far too many tales to tell and, for the most part, my words wouldn’t do the city or the experience justice, but here are a few highlights:
- Keynote speaker, Dan Pallota, started the conference off on a perfect note. It was just what was needed to get everyone in the room inspired and ready to learn. His focus was on the limits that are placed on nonprofits, particularly around fundraising- beliefs about salary, overhead, and what it means to work nonprofit that limit us from dreaming big, taking risks, making significant changes, and (gasp!) spending money to raise money. In sum, he encouraged us to dare to go back to our roots and what got us excited about the work we do in the first place, take risks, and to recruit (and pay for) the best possible talent to make innovative changes that will really make a difference. Truly inspiring.
- The next day at the Awards Luncheon, our own Josh Birkholz was announced as the 2015 Visionary Award winner. He was clearly honored and gave a very touching speech- it was a proud moment for APRA-MN members in the audience… especially when he proclaimed, “APRA-MN is the best chapter on the planet.”
- For me, personally, another exciting moment happened during that luncheon when my name was announced as the APRA Volunteer drawing winner and had won free registration for APRA 2016 in Nashville! Once again, feeling so fortunate.
- Later that night was the APRA-MN Chapter’s Happy Hour. It was a great turnout and it was fun to chat with so many members- some that I hadn’t seen in a while and some that I had never met before. Krista made it even more fun with Mardi Gras beads and masks!
- Out of all of the presentations I attended, my favorite was on the last day. The session was “Focusing on the Top Prospects in the Chaos of a Campaign” by Susan Hayes-McQueen and Lee Heck of the University of Washington. As speakers, they were very entertaining (expecially for 8:30AM in the final hours of the conference) and knowledgeable. In sum, they talked about this “Great Wall” activity that they had created during their campaign that was a visual representation using multi-colored post-its to display solicitations for each unit on a timeline. It was an activity that engaged chief development officers in an open and accountable way to accurately determine their unit’s upcoming asks and expected gifts. The activity itself and the reporting thereafter sparked ideas for a few take-a-ways for my work.
All in all, I was sick with a cold the entire time, but the city, weather, and people at APRA 2015 managed to warm my heart!