A Fundraising Retrospective from the World’s Finest to the World’s Largest

Photo of Amy Rowell in front of The Alamo near San Antonio, TexasFeedback from AFP ICON

By Amy Rowell, Director of Development, Cathedral Center, AFPSEWI Chamberlain Scholar

I’ve been a fundraiser and activist since the age of six, having attended parochial school on the south side of Milwaukee beginning in the early 1980s. My lifelong relationship with fundraising and competition – as well as chocolate – began in the first grade when I was introduced to the sale of World’s Finest Chocolate. By the time I entered second grade, I had developed a strategy that maximized efficiencies and effectiveness that carried me through 8th grade and frequently resulted in being recognized as a top class and all-school individual fundraiser. These early experiences had an enormous influence on me and I’ve drawn on the lessons learned several times in the (many) years since I last hauled candy bars throughout the neighborhood in my red wagon; returning home only when the street lights illuminated – or when my oldest sister was sent to look for me.

While most of the core strategies I developed as a child – evolving and maturing over time, of course – have carried me into adulthood, I’ve always been grateful for any opportunity to grow as a professional and as a person so that I can continue to do and be my best for the individuals who benefit from services received at the agencies I’ve represented throughout my career. Ultimately, they are the reason I invest in an annual AFP membership and they are the reason I even applied for the Chamberlain Scholarship earlier this year.

Immediately upon notification of the scholarship decision, I understood the responsibility attached to the award and I committed to embracing and absorbing everything that was offered during my time in San Antonio. Since returning to Milwaukee, I’ve been asked, repeatedly, if I plan to attend ICON in the future or if I recommend attending ICON.

My response, to both questions, is, “YES!”

Dubbed “the world’s largest conference for fundraising professionals,” ICON is unlike any professional conference I’ve ever attended. In the span of just three days, over 4,000 international fundraising professionals, presenters, and vendors gathered to share information and experiences strategically designed to benefit every attendee. Additionally, formal and informal networking sessions provided enhanced opportunities to create and build relationships with countless like-minded professionals. I have already begun to incorporate the information learned and have continued to grow the relationships formed in San Antonio.

Next month, Fundraising Day Wisconsin will bring similar opportunities to Milwaukee and space is still available. Register today to secure your spot!


Photo caption: At home and away, Amy maintains a rigorous training schedule as part of her personal self-care plan. While in San Antonio, she ran around the perimeter of The Alamo several times each morning.