Change of Plans
"I was preparing myself for the hustle and bustle of Baltimore. I was ready to see the ocean. I was coaching my introverted self to be ready to meet hundreds of people and be around some of the greatest minds in nonprofit fundraising.
The outbreak of COVID-19 had other ideas.
The hustle and bustle I experienced instead involved getting around my two dogs with a full cup of coffee on my way to the home office. My view was that of Pulpit Rock and the construction taking place on the railroad below. My introverted self was secretly cheering that the only in-person contact I would have would be with my husband, though his nonprofit fundraising mind could use a lot of work.
My two dogs and I settled in to virtually attend the AFP ICON conference, and I secretly wondered if a virtual conference could compare to an in-person conference. COVID-19 would surely challenge the educational and inspirational strength of such an event.
Connecting and Learning through Virtual Sessions
But it didn’t stop top fundraisers from around the globe from connecting (virtually.) And it didn’t stop them from teaching each other best practices and new techniques. And it didn’t stop them from supporting each other.
Presenters rose to the challenge and incorporated learnings centered on disaster fundraising. Attendees and presenters alike supported each other with words of encouragement and affirmed that it’s okay to not be okay right now. One presenter even spoke as she recovered from having the virus herself. We sang encouraging songs about donor support (thanks, Marcy Heim.) Another speaker reminded us of our most basic human instinct in giving: passion (thanks, Wayne Olson.) Even further, one panel gave dozens of technology- and virtual-based solutions for donor reach-out and stewardship, all too important as our face-to-face time is limited, if not all together put on pause until this viral chaos is over.
Was this conference all that I expected back in January? No. Did it surprise me, encourage me, and inspire my fundraising efforts in a time I needed it most?
Absolutely. I am so grateful for AFP for this experience. I wish to thank AFP Southern Colorado from the bottom of my heart for making the experience possible through the Chamberlain Scholarship. This is something I’ll never forget- my dogs and I are better fundraisers for it."
Brea Reimer-Baum | Development Manager at Catholic Charities of Central Colorado