Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Don't Tell the Donor - An Honest Critique Of The Fundraising Conference Circuit

I will never forget the first fundraising conference I ever attended. It was energizing to be surrounded by hundreds of passionate fundraisers from a wide range of nonprofit groups who were eager to share their successes and failures. The experience convinced me that this was a profession where I could spend my career learning and growing while helping a great cause.

Unfortunately, some of my recent conference experiences have been underwhelming. In fact, after one particularly boring conference, a colleague told me that the old adage must be true, “those that can – do; those that can’t – attend conferences.”

The truth is that I'm not one of those people who tries to argue that we as fundraisers are too busy raising money for the urgent and critical work of our respective organizations to take two or three days out of the office and spend valuable resources to attend a conference.

I remain optimistic that a vibrant conference circuit is the best avenue to provide continuing education to fundraisers. Our fast-paced industry benefits from bringing creative and innovative thinkers together to learn new tactics and meet new leaders.

The legal and medical professions believe so strongly in continuing education that they mandate a certain number of CLE or CME credits to maintain their licenses. It’s easy to understand why. We live in a rapidly changing world and it is a liability to employ staff whose knowledge or expertise stagnates....

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