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Top Picks for AFP Congress

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One of the most challenging aspects of fundraising is donor retention. And that’s a big part of our focus at this year’s AFP Congress in Toronto.

Having attended AFP in the past, I know there are a lot of fantastic sessions to choose from. But if donor retention is your focus in the coming year, here is my list of must-attends.


Session: Monthly Donor Retention – Y-16 – Maximize Your ROI and Engagement by Simon Scriver, CFRE

When: November 23rd, 4pm


Results and real data are still scarce in the global charity sector, because of an unwillingness to share and the lack of resources to do so. Simon looks at real figures and trends based on the activities of hundreds of thousands of regular donors and discusses what we can learn from them and how it can improve donor management. By comparing the behaviour of regular donors by gift amount, location, age, source and more, as well as looking at how timing will affect your donor base, we can begin to improve what we do and maximise our return on investment. By sharing data and ideas we can improve fundraising as a whole and promote planned, regular giving to the public.

Learning outcomes:

  1. Real data and real ideas
  2. An understanding of monthly donor behaviour
  3. Practical tips to improve retention and income


Follow Simon on Twitter @ToastFundraiser


Session: Retention-focused Acquisition – Y-28 – Mikhael Bornstein, CFRE


When: November 24th, 11am


There is a retention crisis in fundraising. Across the sector, retention rates are plummeting with less than a third of first time donors renewing their commitment. Too often the problem starts with our acquisition programs which employ strategies that maximize acquisition rates while suppressing retention rates. In this data-driven session, we will look at acquisition programs that have exceptional retention rates. We will look at how to design acquisition programs that will lead to stellar retention rates. We will explore the four common mistakes that fundraisers make that reduce retention rates. And, participants will leave the session with five practical strategies that they can use in their acquisition programs that will drive long-term retention and program growth.

Learning outcomes:

  1. How programs with exceptional retention rates structure their acquisition programs
  2. Four common mistakes that fundraisers make that sabotage their retention rates
  3. Five acquisition strategies that will lead to increased retention rates and dramatic program growth


Follow Mikhael on Twitter @mbornste


Session: Examining Donor Behaviour to Enhance Donor Retention – Y-33 – Lynne Wester

When: November 24th, 2pm


Reports are often the bedrock of an organization’s data mining and data collection but “What do reports tell us about our constituencies?” Too often they fail to show any connection or depth about the constituent except for their ability to write a cheque or enter credit card numbers. We have to stop thinking about our donors transactionally and start thinking of them as round, dynamic and diverse populations of people who are engaged with our organizations. Do they attend our events, open our emails, or engage with us on social media? How do they identify themselves and their affiliation with our organizations? And how do we find out this information? What are the rewards? Our ROI increases exponentially as these are fiercely loyal donors, once treated properly, and we build a cadre of constituent profiles that are rich, deep, and fruitful. Come to this session before you pull your next set of reports or plan your next innovation and we’ll teach you a different way to think about these important populations.

Learning outcomes:

  1. Learn to focus on donor behavior not amount
  2. Balance retention with acquisition
  3. Learn new ways to report data that gives a more robust look at your donor base


Follow Lynne on Twitter @donorguru


Here are some other great presenters – great topics and very motivational:

Tony Elischer – Y-06 – Strategic Framework to Optimize the Value of Every Supporter

When: November 23rd, 11AM


Join Tony for a fresh look at building a flexible, dynamic and creative strategic framework that will enable supporters to grow their engagement, relationships and support. How do you integrate all of your programs for individuals so they support each other and provide excellent supporter experiences? We have more channels, more options and more challenges than ever in the history of fundraising; this essential session will outline a way of thinking that can impact any program directed at optimizing values and relationships with individuals.


Tony Elischer – R-05 – Truth, Insight & Directness: What’s Stopping Us?

When: November 23rd, 4pm


In this unique senior-level session from one of the world’s most experienced practitioners, Tony will share his top six countdown to the rising barriers that are preventing growth, innovation and the overall development of our profession. This session will be direct, uncensored and extremely challenging. Join Tony for an invaluable hour that will inform your strategic planning, leadership team discussions and general food for thought.

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonyelischer


Dan Pallotta – R-02 – Putting Your Innovation Purpose into Practice

When: November 23rd 11am

Follow Dan on Twitter @danpallotta

Watch Dan’s Ted talk to get an idea about this session.

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