Authenticity, Creativity, and SINGING?!

A Taste of virtual ICON 2021

ICON2021 logo

Hello my Fundraising Friends,
AFP SEWI Superuser here, ready to tell you all about the Best and Worst of this year’s ICON conference. ICON is the annual international fundraising conference organized by the Association of Fundraising Professionals. This year, it featured 215 of the best and brightest fundraisers in the business with keynote address by Heather McGhee, New York Times bestselling author of The Sum of Us.

After the nightmare that was 2020 (to the level of inheriting a multi-year federal grant with NO historical knowledge on the project), I must admit my expectations for an online conference were not the highest. That said, just like all of us did in keeping our organizations afloat during a global pandemic, AFP International made it work. 

Here’s my list of superlatives for the 2021 ICON Conference:

Most Creative
Jennifer Filla of Aspire Research Group had fun with the conference, creating her own news program on From Identify to Ask: Leveraging research to bridge to larger gifts. Jennifer provided invaluable information on prospect research while providing advice to Development Directors building their base.

Most Unexpected?
 𝅘𝅥𝅯♭“People love to give me money!”𝅘𝅥𝅯 I would say that the Artful Asker Marcy Heim breaking out into song during her class Asking for Major Gifts Now! was a surprise but it wasn’t. Love that 3 step ask but the showtune would have been better received after 5pm.

Most Authentic
Traci Weller (Montana State University) and Melissa Dulin (Northern Trust for Public Land) in Strengthening your Mental Fitness to Manage Stress and Thrive in Uncertain Times. These magnificent women bared their souls with real life examples of struggle, stress, and how to use mindfulness to stay grounded.

This year, ICON presenters provided essential knowledge in the field while showing tremendous empathy in an uncertain time. Yes, some presentations were zany and the AFP happy hour definitely was not skipped in the virtual setting. That said, AFP ICON 2021 proved that once again, we are all in this together.

Ellen Wilkinson, Director of Administration for St. Anthony School Milwaukee, was chosen by AFP SEWI as this year’s Chamberlain Scholar. Wilkinson has been a member of AFP for five years and serves on the AFP Marketing Committee.