Southeast Donor Relations Conference Was Excellent, Yet Again!

July 27th, 2010

Last week we attended to the Southeast Donor Relations Conference in Charlotte sponsored by the Association of Donor Relations Professionals as well as the Georgia Association of Development Professionals annual meeting in St. Simons.  We benefited from both the beach . . . and the brains.  As is the case every year, these organizations are raising the bar for what donor relations means as a distinct and necessary part of their organizations.

Focusing here on the Southeast Donor Relations Conference, the highlight of day one was a donor panel . . . yes, a donor panel.  In our previous experience, most donor panelists are charming, but there’s no “news” in what they have to say.  This group was different; they had a keen understanding of the whys and hows of stewardship and were full of helpful insights and suggestions.  Uniformly, they prefer to be communicated with via email and asked that money spent on tchotchkes be redirected to the mission.  They want accountability reports to be short and to the point, but not all numbers;  they want to have their heart strings pulled.  And one savvy gentleman was quite specific about the importance of public recognition for annual giving.  I could not have said it better myself:  recognizing donors for their annual giving rewards active participation.  Excessive focus on cumulative, planned and major giving encourages an “I’ve done my part” mentality.

Day two focused on successful careers and new trends. Earl Price of Duke Medicine will be retiring after 30 years (congratulations, “Earl the Pearl”) and Denise Howard of Davidson set lessons learned during her career to a Gone With The Wind theme!  Lynne Wester wowed the crowd with presentations on “get it done, even if you do it yourself” social media programs and a metrics program specific to donor relations.  This firm spoke on Linkage and the importance of coordinating donor messages across all venues.  Throughout, the 43 attendees were quick to offer specific examples and real world scenarios that demonstrated the group’s willingness to make quality information accessible to all.

If you are not already an ADRP member, I strongly recommend that you consider joining this organization.  Check out their website to see all the resources they offer. We’ll be attending and presenting at their International Conference in San Francisco, December 6-8, 2010.  We’d love to see you there!

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