ACTCON 2020 - 1100x260

Breakout Sessions

Plan your day based on the content most useful to your work. With tracks focused on fundraising, communications, technology, or a combination of one or more, there is truly something for everyone on your team!

Each breakout period throughout the day has a wide array of fundraising, communications, technology, or combined topics (see breakouts by topic), allowing you and your team to map out a day that matches your professional and organizational development.


Round 1 Breakouts  //  8:30 - 9:30 a.m.

3, 2, 1, Launch: How to Start a Successful Online Community for Your Nonprofit 
In 2018 the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of the Twin Cities (YNPN-TC) created a space for community, networking, and resource-sharing via a members-only Facebook group. Just like "IRL" (in-real-life) communities, online networks require research, planning, and investment. Since launching the group, YNPN-TC has used the template to plan two other digital community launches -- the model works! Join us to go behind the scenes, learn how we did it, and apply the process to your own work.
Ruth Hamberg, founder & principal, Squaretree LLC and Kristin Skaar, development & communications director, Habitat for Humanity Minnesota  

Building a Planned Giving Program from Scratch
Charitable bequests and other planned gifts have historically played a significant role in the funding of larger nonprofits, yet one or two person shops can add a massive source of revenue to their mix with minimal enhancements to their fundraising plans. Through slow drip campaigns piloted at the University of Minnesota and building a full bevy of marketing materials at Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, the presenters will offer the building blocks to start attracting and receiving planned gifts. The presenters will explain from the wealth advisory perspective how to approach planned giving conversations, how to gain a partnership with a financial planning firm, and how they can do a sizable amount of work for a nonprofit.
Dave Hogen, financial planner, M&E Catalyst Group and Mike Linnemann, development director, Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness

Get the Best Cybersecurity Protection for your Organization...for Free!
2019 was a bad year for cybersecurity, and 2020 will likely be worse with a rise in phishing attacks fueled by artificial intelligence, ransomware targeting smartphones, and “botnets-for-hire.” What’s an organization to do? This session starts with an overview of today’s most serious threats, followed by an exploration of the CIS Controls—a prioritized set of best practices developed by security experts from around the world to stop the most pervasive and dangerous threats. The controls are concrete actions that are implementable, usable, scalable, and easy to communicate. You can start implementing them today. Oh, and they’re completely free. This is not about compliance: it’s about strategically defending your organization against today's worst threats. Don’t purchase another device. Instead, invest in a tried-and-true cybersecurity program built on a spirit of community that will help you become more secure. 
Roger Hagedorn, senior security analyst, City of Minneapolis

Round 2 Breakouts  //  12:30 - 1:30 p.m.

BEHAVE Live! DEI Meets Marketing & Communications
This session opens with a 20-minute live recording of the Team Dynamics podcast BEHAVE. The presenters will talk about the partnership between Team Dynamics and the Minnesota Opera to effectively meet DEI goals. They will offer up new approaches for attendees that they can begin incorporating in their work immediately. The session feature a Q&A where attendees can get specific tools to address their pressing needs around diversity, equity, and inclusion in their marketing and communications work. The presenters will also provide opportunities during the session for attendees to interact with one another in small groups. Attendees will have the chance to get clarity for themselves using Team Dynamics' Role, Goal, Soul framework, and additional equity frameworks to better understand how to make strategic decisions around marketing, communications, and fundraising, while leveraging differences.
Rocky Jones, communications manager, Minnesota Opera; Trina Olson, co-founder and principle and Alfonso Wenker, co-founder and president, Team Dynamics LLC

Donor Advised Funds 101
Given the rise in popularity of donor advised funds, it’s time for a deeper look. In this session you will learn what a donor advised fund is, how to work with local community foundations, how to identify who has a donor advised fund in your pool of donors, and how to cultivate and steward the funds.
Sharon DeMark, program officer and Mala Thao, philanthropic advisor, Saint Paul and Minnesota Foundations

IT and Operations for Equity
Most nonprofits these days have goals around equity and justice. This work can often seem removed from the folks in operations and IT. In reality, everyone has a role in advancing justice. While organizational leaders and program teams look out into the community to make change, IT and operations can look inward to assure that we live our values every day. We'll discuss collecting and reporting data to support DEI work, drafting flexible policies, designing workspaces for every kind of person, and many other ways in which operations and IT professionals can advocate for and make change.
Luciano Patino, IT and data manager, Propel Nonprofits

The Power of Media Relations
In this panel, nonprofit leaders will discuss how their organizations have benefited from strong media coverage and share the important lessons they have learned along the way. Moderated by a local PR expert and former TV reporter, you’ll learn how media relations remain one of the most impactful ways to tell your story. Attendees will hear from Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis on how its organization became a thought leader around the issue of homelessness and The Innocence Project of Minnesota will share its experience using media relations to help influence legislation to provide compensation for exonerees.
Chris Duffy, vice president of public relations, Goff Public; Amanda Horner, senior communications manager, Catholic Charities of Saint Paul and Minneapolis; and Julie Jonas, legal director, Innocence Project of Minnesota

Round 3 Breakouts  //  2 - 3 p.m.

Grants Management in an Era of Disruption
Thousands of grant agreements and logic models across the state were rendered nearly moot in late March as Minnesota nonprofits made harsh pivots to control the spread of COVID-19. Since then many nonprofits have suspended or altered programming and operations, incurred significant new costs with demand for technology for remote work, and have reduced staff for budgetary decisions or sick/family leave. Join this session as we explore tips, tricks, and trends related to grants management in an era of disruption including: how to conduct an audit of risks and opportunities in your current grant portfolio, funder stewardship in a virtual world, making your case when the whole world needs dollars, and ideas for centering communities in it all.
Kari Aanestad, director of advancement and Grace Fogland, development and communications assistant, Minnesota Council of Nonprofits

Say Howdy to Your New CRM!
There’s a cowboy saying: Never ask a barber if you need a haircut. That’s why we aren’t having any vendors speak in this session—just your nonprofit peers. They will take turns sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly about their CRM (customer relationship management) software, with an emphasis on donor management. Our goal is to help you understand some pros and cons of different platforms and identify a few that might be a good fit for you. You’ll have time for questions and comparing notes with peers before you ride off into the sunset.
Dee Baskin, executive director, LRAP Minnesota; Karen Graham, director of education and outreach, Tech Impact; Jen Hadley, database coordinator, Friends of the Mississippi River; Emily Orr, director of adaptive recreation & inclusion, Reach for Resources; and Winona Schultz, development associate, Can Do Canines

Pivot to the Positive: Asset-Based Communications & Fundraising
From addressing systemic inequity to interpersonal violence, communications and development staff at mission-driven nonprofits have a challenging task: telling authentic stories that center justice and position the systems as what needs to be changed instead of the people they impact. By pivoting away from out dated - or simply tired - communications tropes towards positive, asset-based messaging, organizations have the opportunity to offer transformative messages about their communities and invite in new ways of partnership with those who fund their work.
Andrea Sanow, marketing manager, Propel Nonprofits and Becky Smith, communications director, Violence Free Minnesota

Reimagining Fundraising as a Restorative Practice
Starting from the desire for the board to raise more money, SEJE Consulting and The Student Advocacy Center (SAC) partnered to explore how SAC could better integrate its fundraising practices and organizational values. We stopped to ask: what would fundraising as a restorative practice look like? To answer this question, we convened a talking circle. By using this restorative practice, we created space for reflection, deep listening, compassion, and accountability. As a result, the board began an ongoing dialogue about embracing community-centric fundraising principles. We will share our story highlighting what we’re learning as SAC continues to re-calibrate its fundraising practices. During the session, we will facilitate a talking circle to allow each participant to experience its transformative power while exploring personal narratives about money and fundraising. Each participant will leave with a primer on how to facilitate talking circles and an introduction to principles of Community-Centric Fundraising.
Danielle Flint, assistant director, Student Advocacy Center of Michigan and Jillian Gross Fortgang, partner, SEJE Consulting 

Round 4 Breakouts  //  3:30 - 4:30 p.m.

Get Your Digital Ducks in a Row: Preparing your Nonprofit for a Successful Website Redesign
Outdated design. Poor search engine rankings. Slow-loading pages. Confusing navigation. These are just some of the reasons your nonprofit may be thinking it’s time for a website overhaul. Before you start salivating over the latest and greatest designs, though, there is work to be done to up your odds of a successful redesign. Join this session to learn more about steps every nonprofit should consider taking BEFORE migrating a single word, image, or video to a new digital home, including auditing your current website, surveying your users, thoroughly researching potential platforms and vendors, crafting a realistic budget and timeline, and getting buy-in from your leadership and board.
John Wurm, membership & communications director, Minnesota Council of Nonprofits

Self-Care for Fundraisers 
Fundraising as a career is tough on people. You’re not given much support, and often asked to raise unreasonable amounts of money unreasonably fast. It’s isolating work, while being an incredibly public role. Most of your job is unseen emotional labor: managing the feelings of your donors. While acknowledging structural changes must be made to fundraising as a field, we know fundraisers are adaptive, resilient folks who’ve figured out how to take care of themselves in the midst of these challenges. This session will be centered on whichever fundraisers are in the room, since you all are the experts on your experiences and tools. Presenters will offer topic areas for discussion, but we’ll spend most of our time in small groups and large interactive conversations building a fundraisers’ self-care toolkit together.
Jake Blumberg, executive director, GiveMN; Camille Cyprian, director of diversity, equity, inclusion & program strategy, Minnesota Council on Foundations and founder and healer in residence, Centered Spaces LLC; and Leah Olm, director of coaching and curriculum, GiveMN

Solve Common Communication & Collaboration Problems with O365  
Microsoft O365 provides a customizable, shared workspace for your team to chat, meet, share, collaborate, and work better together. The tools we will cover are FREE for most nonprofits. Join this session as we explore Microsoft Teams, Planner, and SharePoint. These tools can help your team: get organized, communicate more effectively, use file collaboration without sacrificing security, and bring greater visibility and accountability to action items. The tools we will discuss and demonstrate will not only increase the communication and collaboration of your team, but they are mobile-friendly, easy-to-use, convenient, and secure! When you have a place to improve communication and collaboration, you can spend more time fulfilling your mission.  
Nathan Austin, vice president of business development, Mytech Partners


Round 5 Breakouts  //  8:30 - 9:30 a.m.

The Life-Changing Magic of Google Analytics Campaigns
In this interactive training you’ll learn how to use the powerful but elusive Campaigns feature to measure your organization’s outreach efforts and determine which methods drive the most traffic to your site. The session will cover how to configure the three fields (campaign, source, medium) to best assess your nonprofit’s online outreach. You’ll get expert tips about where you can get creative with your custom configuration, and where you have to follow the rules! The presenter will help you understand how to get Campaigns to work for your specific nonprofit, no matter which email and social media tools you use. This is a skill-building workshop, so bring your questions.
Yesenia Sotelo, digital skills trainer and web developer, SmartCause Digital 

Migrating to the Cloud with Confidence 
For years, the talking point about SharePoint Online was that it wasn’t ready. That’s no longer the case. Cloud-based file management from Microsoft works, and works well. In this session, you’ll hear about the benefits of SharePoint, how one organization made the move to the cloud, what some of the challenges were, and how to avoid them.
Luciano Patino, IT and data manager, Propel Nonprofits

How Public Policy Influences Nonprofits
Join this session to explore how organizations can be involved in advocacy/public policy, examine recent public policy and tax law changes, and dissect how the changes impact philanthropy. The session will include a panel discussion with three nonprofit advocacy leaders as they discuss how their programs were established, how they use volunteers, how to use technology and communications to build support for their advocacy issues, how their organizations collaborate with other groups to affect systemic change, and how to talk about public policy priorities with donors or in fundraising messaging.
Jon Severson, director of strategic partnerships & government relations, Science Museum of Minnesota; Rinal Ray, associate executive director, People Serving People; Bharti Wahi, executive director, Children’s Defense Fund–Minnesota; and Jeremy R. Wells, senior vice president of Philanthropic Services, Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation

Round 6 Breakouts  //  12:30 - 1:30 p.m.

DIY Website ADA Compliance Audits 
You know it's important to have a website that is accessible. But what does accessibility mean for a website and how do you know if you're not in compliance? The purpose of this session is to give attendees a better understanding of accessibility on the web, and the ability to perform an ADA compliance audit on your own website. The session will start with a presentation that explains some of the different aspects of web accessibility: page load times, alternative text, closed captioning, etc. Then, as a group, we will explore the free tools that are available and how to use those tools to determine if your website is in compliance with WCAG 2.1 standards. We will then learn how to document accessibility issues and cover quick fixes for common compliance problems.
Jonathan Hatch, executive director, Saint Paul Media and Iris Key, development manager, Vision Loss Resources

How To Better Align Your Communications & Development Strategies    
Communications is about words. Development is about numbers. The teams from each are from different worlds and speak different languages, right? Maybe; but they’re strongest and most effective when everything is aligned. This session will present case studies that demonstrate when these relationships are strengthened, results include: heightened awareness and understanding, and ultimately more dollars for an organization – a true triple threat. Time will be spent discussing how and why the lines between communications, marketing, and fundraising are blurrier than ever and sharing concrete tips on the best strategic and tactical practices to earn devotion and funds from supporters. This session will also address how organizations of any size and structure can scale the information and tips provided to meet their unique needs.
Maureen Cahill, strategic partner and Briana Gruenewald, senior account executive, Bellmont Partners

Personal Stories: Tapping and Evaluating Their Persuasive Power
Most nonprofits depend on individuals to share their personal stories in support of the organization’s mission and goals and to help drive change. But how do we know those stories truly have an impact? And how do we demonstrate to others the value of using personal stories to raise awareness, educate, motivate, or advocate? These are the questions Wilder Research and Living Proof Advocacy set out to answer in a year-long study. In this interactive session, the two organizations will share study findings and recommendations culled from research and interviews with nonprofits that use spoken personal stories for advocacy. (Spoiler alert: emotional content is key to engaging audiences, but it may not lead to action.) Then, session leaders will present models for evaluating the effectiveness of personal storytelling for advocacy. Participants will brainstorm how to apply study insights and will receive access to the full report, including an evaluation toolkit.
John Capecci, senior coach, Living Proof Advocacy and Emma Connell, research associate, Wilder Research

Revolutionary Fundraising: Lessons from the Headwaters' Giving Project
In this workshop, you’ll hear from past participants of the Headwaters Foundation for Justice Giving Project about their experience of raising money through relational, one-to-one fundraising. You’ll learn about the participatory grantmaking process that places racial justice, democratic decision-making, and community voice at the center of the work. You’ll leave with new ideas and inspiration to build community across difference and move resources in ways that reflect the world we want to see. Learn how cohort participants have translated the skills of the Giving Project into everyday work. The Giving Project is an innovative national model that funds social change, builds community, and develops leaders. Over the last five years, nearly 100 participants in Headwaters Foundation for Justice’s Giving Project have collectively given and raised over $650,000 to support community organizing led by and for people of color in Minnesota.
Jonathan C. W. Jones, founder, Ideation4; Samantha Sencer-Mura, executive director, 826 MSP; and AsaleSol Young, marketing and development director, Urban Homeworks

Round 7 Breakouts  //  2 - 3 p.m.

A Culture of Imagination: Stories & Design
Now is the time to get clear and focused on your organization’s most powerful path forward. We’re headed into a collective rebuilding and recovery era—the task will be to create a new vision for the future. The story you tell right now will pave the way for what comes next. In this session, we’ll highlight two critical communication mindsets to keep centered as we all move forward during and post COVID-19. 1) The importance of imagination in painting a narrative vision. Our audiences will want to know how we imagine building a better future—let’s bring them along to see what’s possible. 2) Relevant, real, and honest language will be deeply needed now and going forward. There’s no time for bull#%@&, sector jargon, or vague impact statements. We’ll show examples of nonprofits and businesses using these strategies effectively and we’ll share ideas on how you can craft these strong narratives yourself.    
Mónica Nadal, art + talent director and Jerome Rankine, editorial director, Pollen Midwest

Become More Effective Reaching Your Donors Using Personas 
Your donors of money, goods, and time are all unique individuals. However, your donor base probably can be described by the 80/20 rule – 20% of them provide 80% of your donations. In this session, you will learn how to categorize and personalize your most impactful donors into three to five personas. A persona is a fictional summarization of your active donors, described by demographics, lifestyles, and values. This will allow you to better target your communication to current active donors, and also to reach out to similar people who are not currently donors
Lisa Lindgren, principal, LML Marketing LLC and Funwi Tita, donor & community relations, Central Minnesota Habitat for Humanity

Fundraising First: Aligning Plans for Growth 
For many organizations, growth is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, expanding means your programs are a success, and impacting more members of your community. On the other hand, expanding means increasing expenses, bigger budgets, and higher overhead, which all too often means scrambling to find additional donors. And now, during COVID-19, for many organizations growth is either crisis-driven or an impossible-seeming dream. This session will talk about how to approach growth from a fundraising first, strategic perspective, beginning with how the same elements that support healthy growth can help support sustainability and crisis response. In this session you will hear real life examples from ANEW BAM, a Twin Cities nonprofit dedicated to the academic success of youth and families that has successfully doubled its impact and its budget in less than five years by proactively fundraising for growth. In addition, we will discuss specific strategies for creating a growth-oriented fundraising plan through thoughtful donor cultivation, community engagement, and a focus on capacity building and general operating support.
Ellen Davis, founder, Future Funding; Kevin Robinson, executive director, ANEW BAM; and Christine Schwitzer, grant manager, The Works Museum and founder, Holistic Grant Services

Hosting a Virtual Fundraising Gala
As difficult as it may be, in-person fundraising galas are going to be hard, if not impossible, for the foreseeable future. However, online galas and fundraising events can be amazing opportunities to re-imagine without the traditional barriers of cost and access that live events hold. Join this panel of nonprofit representatives who have hosted virtual galas to re-vision the standard elements of fundraising events for virtual success.
Terri Allred, Greater Minnesota and Southeast regional coordinator, Minnesota Council of Nonprofits; Michelle Basham, executive director and Kari Clark, development director, YWCA Minneapolis; Wesley Mouri, development director, Theater Mu; Amanda Nigon-Crowley, development coordinator and Dee Sabol, executive director, Diversity Council

Round 8 Breakouts  //  3:30 - 4:30 p.m.

More Than a Logo
An organization’s brand must fit harmoniously with its mission, programs, services, and the communities served. Good branding considers the full picture of how the organization behaves (brand personality) and looks (brand identity). An organization must have a clear picture of who they are targeting, what their place in the nonprofit landscape is, what promise they make to their audiences, and how they can support their claims. Together we will explore why a brand is more than a logo and how to begin the branding process within your organization before working with a design partner. Attendees will be guided through the process of creating a brand persona and be given the opportunity to begin creating one for their organization. A downloadable workbook will be provided for participants to finish creating this persona with the rest of their team. Options for funding a branding project, what to expect from the process, and the steps following the completion of a branding project will also be discussed.
Tasha Klettenberg, creative director, Saint Paul Media; Marcia Milliken, executive director and Katie Rojas-Jahn, director of communications and strategy, Minnesota Children's Alliance

Myth vs. Reality: The Data on What Motivates Your Donors
How do you communicate with your donors during an ongoing crisis? This engaging and interactive session will build on the 2019 Myth vs. Research session to examine some of the persistent myths around how donors respond during times of crisis and conflict. We will examine historical data on fundraising during recessions, wars, and national disasters, and work together to identify some of the best ways to engage donors (and a few surprising ways you might turn them away). We’ll talk about some of the new and innovative ways nonprofits are engaging and educating donors about their work during this difficult time. You’ll leave with new, proven tools to evaluate and enhance your existing donor communications, and data to back up your decisions back at your (home) office.
Jules Wilkins, chief advancement officer, Montessori Center of Minnesota and principle, JulesWrites.com

Remote Working: Lessons Learned and Strategies for Success in the Age of COVID-19
Organizations are under incredible pressure to maintain business productivity and uptime for a remote workforce that may be larger and working remotely longer than imagined just a few months ago. How are organizations successfully adapting to the sudden changes brought on by COVID-19? Join this panel of nonprofit representatives who’ll discuss their experiences managing the changing conditions of remote working, the issues they’ve faced, and the lessons they’ve learned. We’ll then open up the discussion to a large interactive conversation with audience members. Please bring your questions!
Danielle Gangelhoff, finance & operations director, Native Governance Center; Roger Hagedorn, senior security analyst and Abdeslam Mazouz, chief information security officer, City of Minneapolis; Peter Tatikian, technology manager, Can Do Canines; and Ebony Taylor, project coordinator, Tech Impact

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