2013 AFP International Conference on Fundraising [Preview]

AFP 2013 International Conference

Before I register for the AFP International Conference the first thing I consider is, “what do I hope to gain from this trip?”

You see, for me this annual conference is more than a smorgasbord of best practice examples and how-tos. I view the conference as a way to recharge my batteries, renew my resolve, refocus my understanding, and hone my professional practice.

I use the conference as a way to reconnect with sector leaders and reinvest in newcomers to the profession. The conversations that take place between sessions and after dark are as valuable as the materials presented in educational sessions.

Well, now I’m on the ground in San Diego and here are some things I thought about on my journey here.

AFP ICON App ScheduleFirst, it is important to be informed and connected the duration of the conference. This year, in addition to the mobile version of the conference website, you will have a new tool at your disposal: the AFP ICON App for Blackberry, Android, and iPhone.

A great feature of the AFP ICON App is the ability to select sessions that are of interest using the category view, then switching to the schedule view to narrow down your daily plan. Sometimes I like to select two sessions for some time slots in case my first choice was not exactly what I anticipated based on the description.

Second, when I select sessions, I set a strategy to achieve a specific goal. In past years I have chosen sessions that would help me with a specific work project on the horizon. Other years I would plan my conference to meet key sector leaders to build a cadre of trusted mentors. A couple years ago I was working on a book manuscript so I attended sessions that would give me broader understanding for that topical area. I recommend downloading the handouts for your sessions the day before in case you don’t have a wireless signal or are unable to locate wifi.

Third, as you craft your conference experience and develop a plan of action here are things to consider.

  • What kind of sessions do you want to attend? (topical, skill-level, specific speakers)
  • Who do you want to meet? (new friends or trusted colleagues)
  • What vendors should you interact with? (looking for a new service or an upgrade, this is the time to hear what options are out there)

To remain connected the duration of the conference I recommend downloading the conference app, getting on Twitter, and most of all… get outside your comfort zone with social media. But don’t forget to connect in the analog mode as well. This year, I am focused on reconnecting with folks I have lost touch with the last two years and the majority of these individuals are not on Twitter, so the annual conference is the best opportunity I’ll have all year.

Have a great conference.


About Benjamin Mohler

Benjamin Mohler is the principal consultant and director of GivingThree LLC (a consulting firm for the nonprofit sector). He is a fundraising expert with broad knowledge and experience. However, his specialties include board development, strategic planning, and career coaching.

Additionally, he is Vice President of Institutional Advancement for the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS). In this role, he oversees the KCTCS Office of Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement and the KCTCS Office of Grants and Sponsored Programs. With 16 colleges and more than 70 campuses, KCTCS is the Commonwealth’s largest postsecondary institution. He also serves as executive director of the KCTCS Foundation, Inc.

Mohler most recently served as assistant vice president for development at Eastern Kentucky University. His background also includes key advancement roles at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Cedarville University, and The University of Texas at Austin.

He earned a master’s degree in philanthropy and development from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota and a bachelor’s degree in communication arts from Cedarville University. He is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) and has earned the Advanced Certified Fundraising Executive (ACFRE) credential. He currently serves on the ACFRE Board.

Mohler was named to Charlotte Business Journal's "Forty Under 40" in 2013 and the AFP Bluegrass Chapter honored him with their Exemplary Service Award in 2015.

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