CAGP 2017 Top Ten Takeaways

Every year, after the CAGP-ACPDP National Conference, I like to write a summary of the top ten learnings I’m leaving with. The first few years were definitely big picture ideas. The value of connecting with people who speak the same language, learning from others, thinking about things from new perspectives and feeling the camaraderie of people who have “been there, done that.” For anyone who has not been able to make it to the conference at least once – I *highly* recommend it. If budget is an issue, please do make sure to apply for a bursary as it is so valuable.

More recently, the summaries have been a mix of big picture and specific takeaways. And this year follows that trend – with the following being fairly tactical gems.

1.      While it may have some shock value, I picked up a new measurement* to share with senior management – the # of donors who pass away in a year x Your average gift size x Percentage of supporters who typically leave a gift = your lost $ due to not having asked.

2.      You’ve probably seen Simon Sinak’s TED Talk, “Start with Why” – but if you are like me, you may not yet have read the book. It is going directly to the top of my reading list because as we have more and more firm data on this – stories are the key to legacy gifts.

3.      The second annual FRANK Talks raised the bar, with thought-provoking, engaging discussion on the future of fundraising. And if somehow you missed it, you’ll want to make a point to watch the video once it has been released which thankfully has been recorded for posterity. I assure you it will be eye-opening!

4.     Noel Draper shared some valuable advice directly from Ghostbusters “Don’t Cross the Streams.” If you are going to share videos on Facebook, you must upload videos directly to Facebook – YouTube links shared on FB don’t perform as well, because Facebook prefers their own platform.

5.      Similarly, if you think Google+ is a waste of time, you’d be generally right, with one major exception: Google+ may not be where much happens in terms of page views, but is highly valuable for your rankings in search results, because who controls the vast majority of searches? That’s right… Google.

6.      I feel like this is a bit of an annual reminder: but, check out for samples of virtually every type of fundraising piece available.

7.      Another book to add to the reading list: Winning the Story Wars: Why Those Who Tell – and Live – the Best Stories Will Rule the Future by Jonah Sachs

8.      Liz Rejman shared a super strategic over view of how to make data work for you. If you are dealing with some messy data you’ve inherited, start by benchmarking, then determine specific areas to focus on, continue to measure, and adjust as needed. This is far preferable to throwing up your hands in despair and thinking you’ll never get clean reports and the crucial insights they can give you.

9.      The final plenary with Don Tapscott conferencing in from Kuala Lumpur was both a bit dark in terms of some of the challenges for the future, but also, for me at least, steeled my resolve to continue to move forward with eyes open to the possibilities.

10.  And on that note, I’m back to the main thing I always leave with from the CAGP National Conference – a profound gratitude for all those who shared their knowledge, their insights, their perspectives – both the presenters and those I chatted with at lunch, in the exhibitor halls, and even in the elevator. We are surely lucky to be a part of an Association where there is a genuine desire to help others succeed, and an understanding that each in our own realm, we are working to make the world a better place.

So thank you again to all those who took part in Toronto, and I look forward to meeting new people and seeing old friends next year in Winnipeg.

*Apologies to the person who shared this metric, but my notes don’t tell me who presented this one.

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