It’s the most wonderful time of the year! And by that, I mean that AFP Congress in Toronto is just a few weeks away!

I’ve been going to Congress for more than five years. I have always had a great time and come away with solid learnings that I apply in my work every day.

So, I thought I’d share some of the sessions that I’m eager to attend (acknowledging that this list only shares some of the amazing sessions you can enjoy at Congress).

Here goes…

Online Fundraising Testing — Why? How? What? (G-05)

This session is led by Brady Josephson at NextAfter. I am a big fan of the NextAfter people — they are rigorous in their testing and generous with their insights. If you need digital ideas, attend this!

True Grit: Keeping the Wheels on in your Professional Life when your Personal Life is Falling Apart

Shameless plug for a session involving my colleague, Kimberley Blease, and a number of amazing individuals Josh Bowman, Cathy Mann, Jaya Mootoo, and Amanda Rocheleau. Congress isn’t just about practical learnings for your work, it can also be about insights to apply to your life. I’m excited for the discussions that will come out of this panel!

You’re Gonna Love Me! (Y-07)

Two confessions:
(1) I want to attend this because it makes me want to sing “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” from Dream Girls.
(2) I’ll go anywhere Tammy Zonker is!

This session is about your lapsed donors and developing strategies that inspire them to love you.

Culture Club 2.0 — The Connection between Culture and our Ability to Thrive! (Y-09)

This incredibly popular panel from AFP Congress last year and IFC (Netherlands) this year is back at Congress for another discussion and features: Mide Akerewusi, Cathy Barrick, Stephen George, Kishshana Palmer, Caroline Riseboro, and Blakely’s own Kesheyl van Schilt. Work culture is important to us at Blakely and I’ll go to any panel where culture is the topic. When we spend so many hours doing the important work of fundraising, it’s so critical that we do it in an environment that supports us and helps us thrive!

Tiny Tweaks — Creating a Better Donor Experience Through Small Continuous Change (G-09)

I adore Rickesh Lakhani — he is smart, compassionate, strategic, and an incredible leader.

He’s talking at Congress about “tiny tweaks” — an approach to change that is incremental but effective in slowing “moving the ship” so to speak. I can’t wait to hear all about Rickesh’s experience with this.

Getting to the Heart of Tribute Giving (G-11)

For anybody that has “Tribute” or “In-Memory”/ “In Honour” donors on their file, you know these donors are exceptionally difficult to renew. Their motivation for giving is so specific that sometimes it’s hard to use the usual strategies to inspire them to continue giving.

Well, in another shameless plug, I recommend attending Kimberley, Rachel Hunnybun, and Liza Jerome’s session all about Tribute. These fundraising powerhouses have done some incredible research into Tribute donors and have developed thinking that will change the way we engage this large donor group.

Predictably Irrational — Behavioural Economics, Neuroscience & the Future of Fundraising (Y-21)

I don’t know about you but over the past few years I’ve become a total behavioural science geek!

Bernard Ross is a well-known speaker, and especially lately on this topic. Tapping into the human brain is critical to our work and I’m looking forward to more learnings and tips!

How to Build and Lead a Great Fundraising Team (Y-22)

Last but not least, one of my favourite Brits (and arguably the one with the best hair!)— Stephen George. Stephen brings humour, charm, and lots of intelligence to all his sessions, and he knows a lot about leadership. I’ve never left a Stephen George session without feeling inspired, so I hope to see you there!

And that’s it! Again, it’s not an exhaustive list but rather a bite-size of the learnings we’re sure to gain at Congress.

Be sure to come by the Blakely booth to connect with our team — and remember, Congress is a marathon, not a sprint. Stay rested, hydrated, and have fun!

See you there!