Here's What You Missed – Fundraising Topics ‘On the Table’

Attendees seated at tables per education topic at ICCDecember Educational Breakfast - Ask the Seasoned Professional

Back by popular demand, AFPSEWI’s annual round table event brought opportunity for our members to ask questions on the trending topics of the fundraising profession. Nine seasoned professionals led round table discussions, and after the event we asked them, "What is the most important piece of advice you have to offer on your topic" and "What challenges/themes did you notice among your guests and what advice can you offer?" 

Here’s what some of our experts had to say:

Transitioning Volunteers to Donors, Bridget Kesner, Development Director, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Eastern Wisconsin

The one rule to live by as we work with volunteers who are giving so generously of their time is to remember to treat them like your donors- say thank you in meaningful ways, listen, invite them to participate in meaningful events and when the moment is right- make the ask.

Monthly Giving, Amy Rowell, Director of Development, Cathedral Center, Inc.

Be flexible, be open to new ideas that might feel uncomfortable in the beginning but will payoff immensely in the long term – remember that all new and future initiatives must tie back to your strategic plan and be adequately supported by your infrastructure.

Surprisingly, only 25% of table attendees have current recurring gift programs. Organizations with an aging donor base felt increased barriers to implementing as a result. Overwhelmingly, many expressed initial doubt/reluctance about their ability to implement a program because of co-worker resistance or other lack of proper staff support/infrastructure. Simple steps to be implemented to launch a program and then grow it accordingly in the future were shared and many left optimistic.

Understanding and Utilizing the Form 990 & Financial Statements, Kevin O'Leary, Anick & Associates

Don’t overcomplicate financial information when explaining it and consider what is most important and relevant to the people you are presenting too. People are often intimidated by financial information and can draw incorrect conclusions.  To solve this problem it is best to explain the bigger picture to people so that they have proper context and background from which to interpret the financial information.

Nonprofit Certification/Policies, Rob Meiksins, Executive Director, Nonprofit Academy of Wisconsin

Be honest with your funders about capacity building.  Letting them know that you know you are not perfect, but that you have paid attention and are implementing plans for capacity building will build trust that you are paying attention to operations and governance and that the donor’s investment is likely to be managed well.

Many questions on which policies nonprofits often trip up on - most often it is the by-laws.  The nonprofits do not know what’s in them, how they are supposed to behave, etc.  The same could be said of the state statutes – nonprofits rarely know what they say and require. 

Special thanks to all our speakers who volunteered their time to make this event a success:

  • Building Relationships Through Digital Media, Laura Gainor, Founder of Vossberg Gainor
  • CFRE Certification, Shannon Watry, CFRE, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School
  • Making the Ask, Chuck Rozewicz, Milwaukee Repertory Theater
  • Monthly/Recurring Donor Programs, Amy Rowell, Cathedral Center, Inc.
  • Nonprofit Certification/Policies, Rob Meiksins, Nonprofit Academy of Wisconsin
  • Time Management, Nancy Seidl Nelson, CFRE, SPI Consulting, LLP
  • Transitioning Volunteers to Donors, Bridget Kesner, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Eastern Wisconsin
  • Understanding and Utilizing the Form 990 & Financial Statements, Kevin O'Leary, Anick & Associates
  • Working with Boards, Lisa Attonito, Women's Fund of Greater Milwaukee

    Have a topic idea for our 2020 roundtable talks or other future professional development opportunities?  Contact Julie Cordero from the AFPSEWI Education Committee at