Ask The Experts 2023 Schedule & Session Descriptions

BREAKFAST KEYNOTE (8:45 - 10:15 a.m.) 
Presenter: Miriam G. Lopez, Leadership Training, DE&I, Coaching, Design & Facilitation, seEQmore
As fundraisers, it is critical that we are able to authentically share the incredible work our own organizations are doing, and being an authentic storyteller begins from within. In part one of this two-part session, Miriam will lead attendees through a thought-provoking conversation on the heart, courage, and value of sharing our personal stories to build meaningful connections with one another.

Presenter Bio: A leader in accelerated transformation, business performance, and expansion, Miriam has been recognized for developing top-performing teams and consulting for fortune 500 companies in technology, entertainment, retail and green energy, human resources, and telecommunications. She will join us for a timely 2-part exercise that will kick-off during the breakfast session and continue during the midday lunch gathering. We look forward to a thought-provoking conversation on the heart, courage, and value of sharing our stories.

BREAKOUT SESSIONS (10:30 - 11:30 a.m.)

Donors with Disabilities: Are You Prepared to Support Their Giving?
Presenters: Kim Torres, MPA, CFRE, Thrive Nonprofit Solutions LLC & Dory Cayton, Arc of Harris County 
The CDC predicts that between 2020 and 2030, the population of people over the age of 65 will increase by over 70%. HALF of those individuals will have or gain a disability as they age. Why is this important? Because this group of aging Americans will have more disposable income than any group before them.  Supporting their unique disability needs will be integral to securing your next big win. Attend this session to learn easy-to-implement accessibility practices and procedures that will proactively prepare you for our future where donors with disabilities are commonplace. 

Building a Case for Support through a Collaborative Approach with Philanthropy, Program Leaders, and Finance
Presenters: Lindsay Lewis & Avice Chambers, YMCA of Greater Houston
Cases for Support are an organization's voice, a reason to give, and a resource to our donors. The YMCA of Greater Houston developed a year-long strategy to intentionally build the case for Support. We interviewed our program teams who are the leaders serving the community each day, met with the finance team to identify the need for each program, and met with the philanthropy team to discuss the faces of fundraising. This approach led us to cases for Support that shared a descriptive overview of the program, a community need/statistic, an impact story, the number of individuals served, differentiators of what sets us apart, and more. Join us for an interactive session to learn about how this collaborative approach allowed us to finalize the cases for support with a collective voice, a deeper culture of philanthropy, and donor communication resources. 

Elevating Your Success with Strategic Communications
Presenters: Kelli Newman, APR, Newman & Newman, Inc. & Dr. Lisa Watson, College of the Mainland Foundation
Just as business plans provide vital direction, a Strategic Communications Plan functions as an essential blueprint for nonprofit organizations to achieve their goals, including connecting with and motivating target audiences, increasing visibility, and distinguishing themselves from others through the advantages they represent. It begins with formulating brand messages that connect the dots between a nonprofit’s substantive impact and its unique vision to inspire increased funding. The session will begin with Dr. Lisa Watson, Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Executive Director of College of the Mainland (COM) Foundation, summarizing relatable needs they were experiencing. Kelli Newman, President of the communications strategies firm Newman & Newman, Inc., will share insights for applying messaging and communications planning using the COM Foundation as a case study. Participants will have the opportunity to associate what’s presented to their own needs through audience exercises. Dr. Watson will close the session with how her team has executed the customized strategies they were provided and achievements to date. 

Keeping the Spark Alive: How to Steward Legacy Donors
Presenter: Rachel W. Davis, Alexander JFS
This session provides a roadmap for keeping a fire lit in the hearts of your legacy donors once they have chosen your cause as a beneficiary for an endowment or afterlife gift. Legacy stewardship is about creating an organizational culture of memory, meaning and motivation. Attendees will learn how to combine passion, personal connection and segmented marketing techniques to keep the ties between the donor and your organization strong. 

LUNCH KEYNOTE (12:15 - 1:00 p.m.) 
Presenter: Miriam G. Lopez, Leadership Training, DE&I, Coaching, Design & Facilitation, seEQmore
Continuing the momentum created in part one of this session, Miriam will lead attendees through final activities on how to integrate our personal values into our daily work as fundraising professionals. Attendees will learn how to prepare themselves for change and begin to address factors that are holding them back from reaching their full potential as leaders in the fundraising space.

BREAKOUT SESSIONS (1:15 - 2:15 p.m.)

What Are Funders Really Looking For?
Presenter: Wendy Abel, Texas Methodist Foundation
We’ve all been there: you’re about to submit a grant application and wonder if the hours of preparations will translate into a successful award. This is especially true for smaller shops without a dedicated grants team. Join Wendy Abel, Director of Grants Ministry at Texas Methodist Foundation for this interactive session on how to craft proposals that give funders what they are looking for in the area of grantmaking. In her current role at TMF, Wendy manages and supervises TMF’s grantmaking ministry that funds over $2 million in grants to over 100 churches and other nonprofits. 

Building a Culture of Philanthropy: How Your Development and Program Teams Work Together
Presenters: Chelsea Wade, Sterling & Alexis Loving, SEARCH Homeless Services
Collaboration between departments in nonprofit organizations is more than just “cooperating” with other teams. It involves cultivating a shared vision, mutual respect, and in-depth understanding of each other’s roles. Each department strives for a common goal of achieving excellent mission driven outcomes and outstanding donor experience. Smooth and productive partnerships between a nonprofit’s development and programmatic departments are essential in the success of an organization. Communication, cooperation, and transparent expectations are key to working together to ensure that past, current and future donor cultivation and stewardship progress forward. Chelsea and Alexis will use their valuable and extensive experience as leaders in their respective development and program departments (notably at SEARCH Homeless Services) to discuss the need for metrics, timeline/calendar for reporting, and constant information sharing. All are needed for prosperous relationships with individual, corporate and foundation prospects.

Research Reveals How Philanthropy is Evolving: Implications for Fundraising Strategy
Presenter: Angela Seaworth, Ph.D., ACFRE
Philanthropy has evolved over the past 30 years, and we have access to more research than ever before. In this session, participants will learn about data that reveals how our field is changing, in Texas and nationally. We will explore research and database tools that participants can use to make strategic and investment decisions in their own fundraising efforts. 

Equitable Practices in Hiring Fundraising Staff
Presenters: Jennifer Wijangco, CFRE & Katie Hicks, SHRM-SCP
Nonprofits have been on the forefront of speaking up for DEI issues. But how equitable are our hiring practices? We’re now including salary ranges on job postings, but there is still so much we can do to promote equity. Jennifer Wijangco, Director of Development, Individual Giving, and Katie Hicks, Director of Compensation and Benefits, of YES Prep Public Schools will share ideas that your organization can implement.

BREAKOUT SESSIONS (2:30 - 3:30 p.m.)

The Chat-GPT Revolution in the Fundraising Profession: Boon or Bane?
Presenters: Dr. Darrow Zeidenstein, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Rhonda Horn, Sterling, & Dr. David Jaffray, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
The recent national uproar at Vanderbilt University over the use of Chat-GPT to communicate to alumni and donors on a sensitive topic revealed a fault line over the use of AI-based technologies by nonprofits to engage their stakeholders. Embedded in the Vanderbilt controversy are multiple issues that this panel will bring forward for discussion, including:1) What are the ethics of using AI platforms to establish and build external relationships?; 2) If AI tools are generating interactive content with external stakeholders, what does that imply about relationship building in the emerging AI era?; and 3) What are the likely disruptive effects of this technology on the practice of philanthropy in the years ahead? The panel will discuss these and other issues from the perspective of a university president, a scholar of management, and a chief philanthropy officer.

Nonprofit Marketing Best Practices: Tips to Elevate Your Fundraising
Presenters: Natasha Paradeshi, Solace Media, Angela Burgess, Broad Oaks Consulting, & Kimberle DeShazer, Houston Business Journal
Is your nonprofit “the best kept secret in Houston?” Time after time, we hear about the incredible work nonprofits are doing to better our community, followed immediately by “but no one knows who we are.”  In this session, you’ll learn about - and be able to clearly articulate to your Board of Directors - how and why to invest in your nonprofit’s marketing efforts.  From storytelling, to web design, to SEO, to email marketing, to social and print media - learn how a multi-pronged approach to marketing will boost your brand recognition and help cultivate new followers and donors of your organization.

Seizing Opportunities during Pivotal Moments: A Storied Campaign Success – The Center For Glenwood
Presenters: Michelle Buchanan, Dini Spheris & Jacquelyn Buss, Glenwood Cemetery
This session will provide real examples of creative strategies and pivots during a time of change and unforeseen issues such as increased construction cost, weather delays, a pandemic amidst a donor culture that has not been engaged in major giving. This will be a case study with Glenwood Cemetery which launched a $15 million campaign to build a Welcome Center and has now reached over $14 million. Glenwood Cemetery is a unique fundraising organization that had to think outside of the box to develop a case and generate awareness. This will be a fun and engaging experience that while following best practices really offers organizations a way to think creatively about success!

Embracing the New Normal and Bringing Diverse Perspectives to Shape the Evolving Philanthropic Landscape
Presenter: Dr. Angel Harris, Vice President & Chief Advancement Officer
Navigating the new normal in philanthropy requires nonprofit organizations to be nimble, meeting donors where they are. This means partnering with organizations in new ways aligned with their mission and engaging diverse voices to explore a multidimensional approach to strategic philanthropy. In this session, we will explore the importance of taking a consultative approach and bringing diverse perspectives to enhance donor engagement.

This event has been approved for 5.5 points of CFRE credit. 

Registration for this event is now closed.