Fundraising Conference – Sessions

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Breakout sessions tackle some of fundraising’s toughest challenges – and engage you in examining fresh approaches to revenue generation that strengthen your organization. 

Session presentation slides and handouts are available for download following the conference for continued learning.

Hali Lee, co-founder of the Donors of Color Network and founder of the Asian American Giving Circle.

Conference Keynote
Together We Will Be Enough: Centering Proximity & Moving Wealth

A conversation with Hali Lee of Radiant Strategies and special guests Maria de la Cruz, Nausheena Hussain, and Bo Thao-Urabe.

In 2023, Radiant Strategies and IDEO published Centering Proximity: Why Giving Platforms Should Center the Organizations on the Frontlines of Social Change. The publication takes as its premise that, “the future of giving is more socially conscious and community-minded than ever,” and defines “proximate organizations” as “rooted in the communities they impact, sharing geographic locality, demographics, lived experience, and/or an embedded presence.”  

Centering proximity requires shifts in the way capital P Philanthropy has always been done, one key shift being deeper relationships amongst donors and organizations to anchor and fuel longer-term impact. In other words, to ensure proximate organizations are proximate to wealth whether that wealth is in the form of an individual donor, giving circle, or mutual aid. 

Join Hali Lee, co-founder of the Donors of Color Network, founder of the  Asian American Giving Circle, author, and collective movement builder as she expands on the specifics of centering proximity through stories from the field. Then, buckle up as Hali invites Minnesota-based fundraising stars Maria de la Cruz, Nausheena Hussain, and Bo Thao-Urabe to the stage for a ranging conversation on nonprofits and fundraisers as intermediaries and the role they play in facilitating the movement of wealth and the mutual trust this takes. 

Sessions by Track

Grantmaking | Grant Prospecting / Writing | Philanthropic Reform / Disruption

Relationship Building | Research / Trends


Ask Me Anything: Arts Board & Regional Arts Councils

Minnesota is the only state in the nation with a constitutional amendment that guarantees public dollars to arts and culture. Through the State Arts Board and the 11 Regional Arts Councils, these public funds reach all 87 counties in Minnesota. This experienced panel will share an overview of this funding system, with plenty of time to ‘Ask Me Anything’ with attendee questions.

Presented by Masami Kawazato of Metropolitan Regional Arts Council; Annick Dall-Desbois and Jamie Marshall of Minnesota State Arts Board; Becca Graves of Arrowhead Regional Arts Council

Grant Prospecting / Writing

Demystifying Government Grants: Tackling Your First Application

Build your confidence with government grant applications! Through presentation, small group, and individual exercises, learn how to determine whether funding will contribute to or detract from your mission, gain practical skills to create a compelling proposal, discover authentic ways to incorporate lived experiences as a key argument for funding, and pick up strategies for project management and assessing your application against scoring criteria and writing prompts.

Presented by Emily Greenwald Johnson of Tikkun Grant Advancement

Demystifying Program Evaluation for Grantwriters

Demystify the increasingly common evaluation questions in grant proposals. Gain confidence using the functional definitions of common evaluation terms (i.e., objective vs. goal, output vs outcome, logic model, ROI), learn strategies for writing sustainable goals for your organization, and unpack what funders are looking to see in these sections. You’re encouraged to come to the session with an existing grant proposal with a goals and objective section to workshop.

Presented by Nicole Conti of Rise, Incorporated; Kelsey McKenna of Shavlik Family Foundation

Philanthropic Reform / Disruption

Abundant Strategy: Collaborating and Sharing to Sustain Ourselves

Adapting to funding priority shifts, feeling supported in executive- and director-level work, and staying true to your mission are all difficult challenges to navigate. Develop your understanding of how nonprofits are adapting to withstand funding shifts within philanthropy and learn from colleagues with experience navigating those shifts. Fundraising collaborations are most important than ever to ensure that competition makes everyone stronger, not just organizations with the most resources.

Presented by Alfred Walking Bull of Tending the Soil; Rebecca Song of Inquilinxs Unidxs; Wendy Darst of CTUL

Disrupting Philanthropy: Where to Begin

Let’s examine the historical perspective of philanthropy and how a deficit-based framework and mentality centers individuals and creates underlying competitiveness for funding amongst organizations. Discover ways to shift your philanthropic narrative that instead focuses on cultivating relationships, centers racial healing, and puts forth a vision of honoring our interconnectedness in our work to lift up communities and future generations.

Presented by Sophie Hillmeyer of Life House; Jordon Johnson

Equitable Fundraising Futures: A Collaborative Breakout Discussion

Embark on a collaborative exploration of fundraising through an equity lens within the structures of capitalism. This session invites you to actively contribute and collectively grapple with challenging questions. How can we guide our fundraising systems towards equity? What strategies can we employ to hold funders accountable? And crucially, how do we maintain a both/and perspective?

Presented by Liz Paul of Connections Ministry; Sophie Hoiseth of YWCA Mankato

Funky Fundraising: Redefining Nonprofit Norms with Community-Centric Philanthropy

Fundraising as a whole has been rooted in cisgender, heterosexual, whiteness. But does it have to be this way? Say goodbye to typical donor-hosted fundraisers and hello to dynamic, community-centric donation streams that bring people together. Discover the importance of disrupting traditional nonprofit fundraising methods to adapt to changing community needs and donor preference, learn from successful case studies, identify practical techniques for developing community-centric donation streams that foster meaningful connections and ongoing support, explore platforms and technologies that can enhance implementation and management, and develop a personalized action plan for integrating creativity and community into your fundraising strategy.

Presented by Myrtle Lemon-Todd of SharkyLemon

Inclusive Fundraising and Democratizing Philanthropy

Get ready to challenge your current fundraising efforts by examining your language, messaging, beneficiary participation, and culture for inclusivity, accessibility, and cultural competency. Dive into inclusive fundraising through discussions on how to overcome barriers and biases that often exclude certain groups from fully participating in philanthropic efforts.

Presented by Sarah Driever of Children’s Hospital Association benefitting Children’s Minnesota

Transformative Storytelling Aligned with Social Change

For many, giving programs have been presented as an altruistic opportunity to do good, creating a binary of fortunate and unfortunate, where the problem is in the individual circumstances of marginalized communities instead of the settler colonial systems that created inequity. Through education and storytelling, you’ll start to reconsider your responsibility in changing systems you may benefit from, and leave with practical tools for how to break the ice around complex topics in a way that invites people to engage in social justice that centers community-led solutions.

Presented by Belle Alvarez of Common Hope

Unlocking Impact: Harnessing the Power of Social Enterprise

Social enterprise holds considerable promise to advance nonprofits by creating greater flexibility to fund programs not based on donor restrictions. Learn from this organization’s experience on why reliance on traditional philanthropic giving can slow down or even harm organizational growth and consider how to use earned income revenue streams to fund your mission and engage new audiences.

Presented by Carley Kammerer of Wildflyer Coffee

Relationship Building

Advocating for Fundraisers of Color

It’s difficult for fundraisers of color to grow in a space that doesn’t look like them and doesn’t know how to nurture them. It is possible, though. Learn how to create an inclusive environment, what BIPOC folks need to thrive in development, and how to advocate for them in a historically white philanthropy industry through real-life scenarios and interactive discussion.

Presented by Ashley Hemnarine of The Family Partnership

Building a Strong Qualification Program & Active Mid-Level Giving

As organizations experience an aging donor population and donor fatigue, it’s important to develop strategies to support your future major gift prospects. Gain understanding and confidence in implementing a successful qualification program and the challenges you might encounter, how it should be integrated into your other fundraising programs, and how developing a formal or informal mid-level giving program can be a valuable use of organizational resources.

Presented by Jacquelyn Peters of Campbell & Company

Cognitive Impairment, Dementia, and Donors: Policy and Practice

Nonprofits risk litigation, negative media, loss of reputation, and other exposure—unless they have sound policies, procedures, and trained staff who are prepared for the inevitable conversation with a donor or prospect that seems to be experiencing confusion, has difficulty communicating, or may be exhibiting poor judgment. Through situational case studies, develop your awareness of the dementia crisis and gain recommendations for your organization to mitigate these challenges.

Presented by Robert Hofmann of University of Minnesota, Duluth; Stu Silberman of Whole Woman’s Health Alliance

Communications that Build Donor Relationships & Lifetime Value

Beyond prioritizing time spent with donors, development pros need tools and strategies working for you all year long. Dive into an effective annual plan of donor touchpoints to maximize giving today and in the future, including strong appeals, newsletters, donor thank yous and appreciation, event invitations, impact reports, tax substantiation, and new donor welcome packages.

Presented by Tom Struthers of TurnKey Direct Marketing, Inc; Gay Gonnerman of The Food Group; Jennifer Beaudry of The Diocese of Duluth

Finding Your People: Values-Driven Fundraising

Aligning fundraising with values can often be easier in theory than in practice. Learn from this nonprofit’s experience doing just that, including diversify their funding pools while remaining committed to those values, and using their values to grow partnerships. You’ll gain practical implications of values-driven fundraising, with an emphasis on giving you actionable tools to grow your fundraising while assessing potential partnerships through the lens of your values.

Presented by Tracine Asberry and Julia Moffit of St. Paul Youth Services

Holding Transformative, Meaningful Meetings that Build Community

Discover how to cut through the mundane and create conditions for powerful, values-aligned meetings. From donor and funder meetings (yes, even galas!) to your weekly staff check-ins, you’ll learn how to saturate purpose into every aspect of your next gathering to avoid burnout, unnecessary stress, and confusion for your peers and supporters.

Presented by Clara Lind of GiveMN; Courtney Backen of AFP-MN and GiveMN

How to Have Challenging Conversations with Donors and Stay Whole

Gain confidence in your skills and the tools needed to navigate sticky and challenging discussions with donors, while maintaining your authenticity and wellbeing. Focusing on Values-Based Fundraising, you’ll learn how to strengthen your capacity and raise money from a place of strength while keeping your community at the center.

Presented by Sarah Staiger and Laura Vitelli of Staiger | Vitelli and Associates

It’s Deductible! Keeping the IRS and Your Donors Happy

In this interactive session, gain the knowledge and resources you need to record, receipt, and acknowledge gifts that steward your donors while not running afoul of the IRS.

Presented by Nancy Brown of Winona Community Foundation

Let’s Build a Menu: How to Be Appetizing to Major Donors and Sponsors

This session flips the fundraising funnel on its head, sharing a real-life case study of how a tiered menu approach led to exceeding their revenue goals. Learn strategies to spice up your fundraising campaigns by defining multiple clear engagement opportunities, and cook up your own mission-driven, multi-option menu for 2024, with time to share and workshop in small groups.

Presented by KD Bauer of Next in Nonprofits; Dick Senese of LGBTQ Leaders in Higher Education

Planned Giving – Nothing to Fear

Planned giving is a wonderful opportunity for your donors to experience joy in their giving, but many nonprofits don’t have a planned giving program or experience talking with donors about planned gifts. Learn how to build or elevate your organization’s planned giving, including tips on how to educate and promote legacy giving, what to listen for in conversations and questions to consider in various situations with supporters, staff, and board members.

Presented by Christine Pulkrabek of L’evate Non-Profit Consultants

This is Awkward, but Your Data is Leaking

Like a new car, if you don’t perform regular maintenance on your donor database, pretty soon you have a clunker. Learn about the basic maintenance and processes needed to ensure you have the data needed to make strategic fundraising decisions and best steward your donors. You’ll leave understanding how a strong data commitment can improve your view of who your best supporters are and influence your strategies.

Presented by Jenny Floria of Crescent Cove

Research / Trends

Leverage AI for Donor Segmentation & Data Analysis

ChatGPT and other online tools are frequently leveraged for writing and text functions, but have you explored how to use these free tools to analyze your donor data? Explore how you can take your existing donor data to glean new insights so your appeals can become more efficient. Bring your laptop to start your own journey during this session!

Presented by Eric Molho of BonPartners

See a topic you want to explore? Don’t wait to secure your spot at Minnesota’s largest nonprofit fundraising event!

Thank you to our conference sponsors!

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