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Unlocking Lessons and Community at Fundraising Day

Unlocking Lessons and Community at Fundraising Day

Chapter Leadership Brief 5.3.24

by Lisa Keitges, Founder and Principal, East 5th Strategies and
Susan Sharer, Vice President of Development, Prospect Park Alliance

On June 14, you can tell us if we did our job or not. And we look forward to hearing what you think.

We are the program co-chairs for Fundraising Day New York, the historic gathering of over 1,000 philanthropy professionals from our great city and the surrounding area. And we faced a tall order -- there are almost 50,000 nonprofits in New York City, with issues as diverse as its population -- how could we create a cohesive program that gets at the heart of the issues our community needs to thrive?

Then we started talking to you. We heard about the things that plague you -- a complacent Board of Directors, declining special event revenue, constant development team turnover, and the urgent need to increase donations with a tiny (and shrinking) prospect pipeline. We also heard that the fundraising world can feel lonely. That the competitive nature of fundraising meant that we couldn’t share what works, and maybe due to embarrassment, what hasn’t worked for you. We also know that the sector in general has some critical questions to ask and issues to tackle and Fundraising Day should be a place for those conversations. We created the Fundraising Day program to get at the heart of these issues, and provide the fellowship you need to continue those conversations until next year’s Fundraising Day and beyond.

When taking on this role, it was paramount that we create a program that was reflective of our community, bringing in new faces, new organizations and highlighting those who cracked the code on the issues that block us from doing our work and achieving our important missions. The fundraising superheroes are walking amongst us -- and they are coming to and speaking at Fundraising Day.

With the help of our program committee (who are the real champions here and are listed at the bottom), we crafted a program that includes these topics and many more:

  • For those that are having trouble hiring and retaining your fundraising talent -- “Attracting & Retaining Fundraising Talent in a Post Pandemic Landscape”
  • For those that are sick of raising your entire budget every year --  “Building a Resilient Fundraising Program: The Impact of Sustainer Giving”
  • For those that want to use the tech shifts to propel your operation, but aren’t sure where to start -- “Fundraise with AI: Leverage AI to Increase Fundraising Results, Including Conversations and Demos”
  • For those that wonder “what are my funders really thinking?!” - “Funders Panel: Site Visits and Other Ways to Connect”

These sessions, the true bread and butter of our gathering, will be bolstered by two keynotes, meant to spark discussion and move us forward as an industry:

  • Our Morning Keynote - “Resourcing Communities: The Role of Fundraisers in the Social Change Ecosystem.” Farra Trompeter (Big Duck), Shawnda Chapman (The Ms. Foundation for Women) and Mari Eva Mendes (Girls for Gender Equity) will explore the question at the core of our work. How do we honor donor investments while creating change?
  • And our Penny Stoil Luncheon Keynote with Jennifer Jones Austin, the CEO and Executive Director of FPWA, an anti-poverty, policy and advocacy organization with 170 member agencies and faith partners. Jennifer has led and secured monumental changes in social policy to strengthen and empower the disenfranchised and marginalized and brings to her work a profound understanding of the link between race, poverty, law and social policy in America, and the role religion plays.

And beyond sessions, we brought in more personalized help and opportunities for fellowship, including:

  • Two dedicated networking sessions to meet new fundraising friends and reunite with ones from the past;
  • All-day roundtable opportunities to learn in an intimate environment, where you can ask questions and troubleshoot with experts in niche areas;
  • And double the Flash Coaching opportunities to gain valuable career insights from sector experts.

And there’s a co-working room this year, because some Zooms you can’t cancel.

There will be coffee all day, and a sponsored happy hour after the sessions. Come gather, learn, share and then find us and let us know what you thought.

And finally, and most importantly, this is only possible because of our Programming Committee. Each is an expert in their field and a wonderful human being. Thank you for being on this ride with us. We’re lucky to know you.

  • Funmilayo Brown, Founder and CEO, Layo Philanthropic Partners
  • PK Drago, Account Manager, Lautman Maska Neill & Company
  • Lucretia Gilbert, Chief Philanthropy Officer, Elton John AIDS Foundation
  • Thomas E. Moore III, Executive Director, American Friends of the Louvre
  • Carmel Napolitano, Vice President, Lindauer
  • Caroline Ver Planck, Associate Director, Community Fundraising, Make-A-Wish Metro New York
  • Judy Cuker Sussman, Director of Corporate Relations, Brooklyn Museum
  • Farra Trompeter, Co-Director, Worker-Owner at Big Duck

We’ll see you on June 14th --

Lisa Keitges is a nonprofit fundraising consultant and the founder of East 5th Strategies, established in 2019 in her tiny East Village apartment. Now, she works, thinks and connects at the intersection of social good, systemic change and philanthropy across the United States and Europe. Formerly of Orr Group, NYU Langone Health, the Wilson Center, and others, Lisa’s client base spans two continents and have missions close to her heart - international relations, education, the rights of women and girls, equality for marginalized communities, arts and humanities, and social services, among others.

Susan Sharer is the Vice President of Development of Prospect Park Alliance, the non-profit that sustains, restores and advances Prospect Park. She joined the Alliance in 2013, and moved up the ranks to her current position managing a team of six. Prior to the Alliance, Susan served as the Director of Special Events at the YMCA of Greater New York and Director of Individual Giving at The Film Society of Lincoln Center.  In spring 2018, Susan received a Certificate in Business Excellence from Columbia Business School after participating in their Senior Leaders Program for NonProfit Professionals. She has a BA in Psychology from Vassar College.

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