Key Take-aways from AFP ICON 2022

1024 576 Maria Breston

I just returned from the annual international conference of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, known as AFP ICON, and I want to share with you my biggest takeaways. First and foremost, I cannot overstate the value of getting away from day-to-day work by attending a conference. Your attendance can help you get away from the minutiae and think about the big picture. For me, a big-picture moment began with the realization that technology is shaping the future of fundraising. The exhibit hall was filled with technology companies offering solutions to many of the challenges fundraising professionals face daily. However, with the focus on technology, fundraising is becoming increasingly transactional in nature. The workshops I attended helped remind me how important it is that we hang onto the philosophy of philanthropy, or the practice of voluntary action for the common good, rooted in personal and family values and centered around a love for humankind. The big picture: it’s critical that we balance the benefits of technology with the philosophy of philanthropy as the nonprofit sector evolves.

My second big takeaway is the value of a professional network. If you are a fundraising professional, getting connected with your peers across the globe can have a positive impact on your career in so many ways. It helps you gain perspective on your organization, your career, and the opportunities available to you to expand your network, learn from others, and build relationships within the profession. For me, an outcome of the conference was meeting the co-author of the book that I have been preparing to write for the last decade. Less than a week after the conference, we are trading outlines and making plans for how we will work together to produce the book. Had I not attended the conference, I would not have connected with this individual, and the ideas for the book would still be percolating. Stay tuned for more info on the book! In the meantime, if you are a fundraiser, I encourage you to consider joining AFP. I invite you to get in touch with me and ask me how to get involved.

My third big takeaway was the power of learning. If you think of yourself as a lifelong learner like me, then attending a conference provides countless opportunities to learn, regardless of where you are in your career. For me, attending the conference helped me identify trends in the nonprofit sector, such as the importance of emerging technologies but also how the Great Resignation is impacting the nonprofit sector in general and the fundraising profession in particular. It also helped me to identify some gaps in the industry and got me thinking about how we can try to address some of them. Finally, I learned about how to earn the ACFRE credential, and I took the first step toward pursuing it.

I hope I’ve inspired you to attend AFP ICON next year in New Orleans. You’ll find other members of the Soukup Strategic Solutions team and me there April 16-18, 2023. Join us!

Written by Sheryl Soukup, CFRE, President, Soukup Strategic Solutions. Sheryl is also an Impact Coach.

Learn how you can work with a fundraising Impact Coach to take your career to the level and maximize your impact!