I can’t believe it’s been about 6 months since I attended this year’s Associates of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) International Conference in San Francisco! I will admit when I first heard about the conference the concept was foreign and a bit funny. My first thought was, “fundraising can be a profession?” My second thought was “how is fundraising as a profession so popular that there’s an annual, well-attended conference for it?” The extent of my experience with fundraising was collecting coins for charity in buckets outside of grocery stores and asking my family for pledge money in elementary school when some event was coming up. Though I had no idea about what to expect, Dr. Jendian and Dr. Simmons prepared us well, helping us with registration, making sure that we had business/networking cards, and giving us advice on how to engage the professionals that would be present. When we arrived at the Moscone Center I knew right away, this wouldn’t be your average conference. The building was buzzing with what I’m sure were conversations about community impact, donor relations, and asset-based community development.

One of my favorite sessions was with Marcy Heim on Making an Artful Ask. She talked about the importance of reprogramming yourself to believe a different message. I can still remember as she had us join her in song – “people love to give me money!” She gave us an effective template for making an ask in a way that is short and to the point, but also inspires donors to invest. Donors want to hear about the impact and progress that will result from funding, not about how desperate you are for money. I enjoyed getting to practice making an ask with the people in the room. I left Marcy’s session singing happy money songs and feeling a lot more confident about approaching potential donors; a feat that struck fear into the depths of my heart beforehand (hehe).

My experience at the 2017 AFP Conference was an all-around positive one. I stepped outside of my comfort zone and conversed with fundraising professionals of varying backgrounds, handed out/received several business cards, and met world changers like Shiza Shahid and Cleve Jones. I’m grateful to Dr. Simmons and Dr. Jendian for always going above and beyond to see to it that Humanics scholars are afforded rare opportunities like these.

I look forward to the year that I’ll be attending the AFP conference as a professional! 🙂