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Reminisce and See What You Missed at the 2013 AFP Leadership Academy

October 23, 2013

On Oct. 2-5, more than 300 of AFP’s chapter leaders, administrators, board members and diversity thought-leaders gathered in Pittsburgh, Pa. for the 8th Annual AFP Leadership Academy. It was a jam-packed four days—there were plenaries with esteemed and inspiring speakers such as Ed Rensi, former CEO of McDonald’s USA, division driven education sessions to highlight all of the exciting projects on the horizon at AFP, breakout educational sessions on leadership and tips on running your chapter and nonprofit, and kicking it off was a gathering of diversity thought-leaders for the first ever AFP Diversity Summit.

If you were there, you may have had the chance to hop on stage and do a faux interview with Carmi McCook, the closing plenary speaker who is a nationally recognized communications expert known for helping high-profile professionals become more powerful and credible communicators. Or maybe you were in the Chapter Management 101 Workshop, throwing around balloons (it’s a “you had to be there” kind of moment). Perhaps you snuck out during lunch and savored the local fair at Primanti Bros.—French fries on a sandwich, need we say more? And maybe, just maybe, you were lucky enough to see the new town floating monument—a giant rubber ducky.

In the case that you weren’t in Pittsburgh for this thought-provoking, inspiring and FUN event, we’ve got some of the top takeaways to share that will give you a taste. Whether you’re an AFP chapter leader, aspiring leader within your nonprofit, the CEO of a nonprofit, or a budding nonprofit professional, you are sure to gain some guidance from the insights shared at this gathering of leaders in the field and within AFP.

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Let’s Talk About Diversity

More than 50 individuals participated in the live discussion at the first annual AFP Diversity Summit, all revolving around, what else, diversity! More specifically, inclusion. A culmination of the discussion will be released soon, but until then, here are some bites:       

  • Stephen Peeler, Vice President of Development at ASAE and a summit facilitator, poses the question, “How do we include, introduce or measure the ‘Value of Diversity’ to people we meet?” Think about it.
  • @AliceFerris, an attendee at the summit, passes on the inclusion insight: Focus on culture, not diversity.
  • @StephenPeeler shares a picture of AFP President and CEO Andrew Watt personalizing the impact and value of diversity in his life.

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Whipping Your Chapter Into Shape

Growing every year, the pre-academy workshop—Chapter Management 101—was attended by more than 160 chapter representatives in Pittsburgh. Check out the panoramic shot that AFPeep and Pittsburgh native Dave Tinker snapped in the ballroom:

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  • @davethecfre says, “Being AFP chapter president is a ‘big picture’ job.”

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  • @mkta6874 wants to know, “Why are there balloons on the table? Interesting morning…” It’s a Chapter Management 101 Workshop secret…but   we’ll give you a sneak peek:

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From One Hero to Another

The opening plenary is kicked off with an honoring statement by Ed Rensi, former CEO of McDonald’s: “You are absolutely my heroes and heroines.” We can tell this is going to be a great session!

  • Inspiring one-liners from Rensi that will resonate with fundraisers:
    • He sides with us! @LeahEustace shares a quote from Rensi, “The fact that our government thinks we ought to get rid of the tax benefit to charitable giving is insane.”
    • Corporations are important to build relationships with, but don’t just work with the corporation—work with their employees directly. @mbakercfre shares, “Without profit there is not charity, without charity there is no profit – corporations have no souls but the workers do.” @LeahEustace adds from Rensi, “Corporations don’t have souls. Their souls lie within the people who work there.” Point taken—go straight to the workers to collaborate with a corporation.
    • As Ellen Degeneres would say, “be kind to one another”. @Willie_Matis shows that Rensi concurs, “A great civilization is measured by art, education, and how its people treat each other.”
    • @afpwpa: “The needs of our society know no color or gender. The fundraising field needs to become more diverse.” We’re working on it!
  • And then, this happened: “@davethecfe: Ed Rensi just donated $1,000 to #AFPLeadership attendee who asked the first question. A woman from St. Tammany Hospital near #NOLA.” Incredible!

Lead, Inspire, Educate

@afpwpa gears up for round two: “Lots of great education for morning 2 of Leadership Academy.”

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Day two brought education sessions galore! Here are some top highlights:

  • Julie Dixon, who presented, The Rules of Engagement: Building Your Brand and Meeting Your Mission Using Social Media, says, “Having a social media profile is the mark of a credible org today.” Does your nonprofit have one?
    • More Dixon insights:
      • “Engagement on social media is not just about the number of followers, it’s about the give and take—the values exchange.”
      • Facebookers beware: “URL shortening services work for Twitter, but not for Facebook.”
  • Sam Deep, who brought us, Ten Tools that Build Teams, cuts right to the point, and urges you to do the same: “Non-performers should be on performance improvement plans, or heading out the door.”
    • More from Deep:
      • “Profit isn’t a goal, it’s an outcome. It’s a mistake to keep our people’s eyes focused on numbers.”
      • Rumored to be Deep’s favorite word: Expectation. “Number one reason why people don’t meet expectations is because they don’t know what they are.”
  • Adrian Sargeant, Professor of Fundraising at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, brought an animated and enthusiastic twist to the future of AFP’s education. Twitter was, dare we say, a “flutter” with Sargeant quotes and sparked insights:

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  • @DerekdeLouche: Outstanding Fundraisers understand what they do today as part of a long term system and bigger picture – Adrian Sargeant
  • @StephenPeeler: Make sure your fundraising team has a culture that accepts failure. Learn from mistakes. Modify behavior of a consequence.
  • @Willie_Matis: Embed yourself in the front lines of your organization. Learn from EVERY part of your org. That’s when you become a leader.
  • Sargeant defines a “great fundraiser”:

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Be An AFP Star!

Carmie McCook wrapped up the lively four day event with on-the-spot interviews engaging the audience—no stage fright in this crowd!

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Scott Decksheimer is pulled on stage for an interview in front of the audience. 

  • McCook is a master trainer for media interviews, keynote speeches, high-stake presentations and crisis communication situations, and even she says, “Talk is cheap…until you say the wrong thing.” Watch what you say, especially in today’s world—social media cannot be erased.
  • When preparing your responses during interviews, McCook tells you to know the key points you want to make, and use examples to back them up!

For more from these sessions, you can find some of the full handouts here.

The 8th Annual AFP Leadership Academy in Pittsburgh was enlightening and recharging for our leaders and future leaders. With all of the exciting innovative changes in the works for AFP, the 9th Annual Leadership Academy is sure to be even better. Not to mention that it’s in…Puerto Rico! Roberto Soto-Acosta, AFP board member and Puerto Rico native talks about his homeland’s ties to fundraising, and the incredible resort where we’ll be hosting the 2014 AFP Leadership Academy!



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