written by Willie Matis
It is hard to believe that this is the last full week of April already. Time has been flying this year, and one of the main reasons why that might be is because of my opportunity to visit Vancouver for the AFP International Conference. It was such an awesome experience that I owe to the AFP Indiana Chapter and all of the Chapter supporters because the reason I was able to go was because of the Chamberlin Scholarship. I am very grateful for receiving the scholarship, and if I did not receive the award, then I would not have been able to have the experience.
I have been to a few conferences like the Half-Day conference for AFP-Indiana last year as well as the Policy & Issues Forum for the National Association of Community Health Centers. At each conference, you feel energized because everyone is there for one reason – to get better at their profession. It is a fantastic feeling to get around a group of people who are all from different backgrounds, have experienced different lives, yet are passionate about getting better a FUNDRAISING! It is IMPOSSIBLE not to takeaway something from attending a conference of this sort (well, I guess it’s possible, if you go but don’t attend any sessions or meetings).
ANYWAY! Vancouver was a fantastic city, the conference was a very informative one, and the people there were amazing. Here are the three things that I took away from attending the conference, and hopefully I can shed some light on how I have stayed on track in implementing them.
1) Put my organization on Google +.
Okay, I would be wrong if I didn’t mention any social media tips & tricks I picked up at the conference. It is a passion of mine, and it is also the program I oversee at HealthNet. Most everyone sees the need to be on Facebook, Twitter, and have an email newsletter. The audience is there and ready to engage as long as you bring creative ways to do so. But, this Google+ thingy?? Really Willie? Yes. I attended Marc Pitman‘s session – Beyond the Basics – about social media, and he gave great pointers on why nonprofits need to be on Google+.
By being on Google+ and posting content about your organization, you are now training Google on which keywords people will be using to find your organization through search. (A little tidbit from me – don’t worry about engagement) Google+ will not bring an influx of donations or volunteers, but it will up your SEO and allow consumers/donors be able to find you in the top 5 results on a Google Search.
2) Create good content and ASK.
My favorite general session at AFP-International was from Scott Harrison, founder of charity:water. He has a very interesting life story already, and he MIGHT be 40. I’ll spare you the biography though. If you do a quick search on charity:water, then you will see how well they are doing. Growing their donations each year at a tremendous pace.
How do they do it? They create good content and ASK. My takeaway from this session – get good at video, don’t be afraid to take some risks, and then ask corporations/news media/for profits/other nonprofits/etc to share your stories. With the new age of social media and content sharing (hello, you are reading a blog for AFP-Indiana right?), if you create good content and put it in front of people’s faces repeatedly, then something good will happen.
3) Keep in touch.
This one is short and sweet. Going to any conference, you meet A LOT of great people. Business cards are being exchanged like to 12 year olds on the back porch trying to work their way up to a Peyton Manning Rookie Card. MAKE SURE TO KEEP IN TOUCH! The best way to continue learning and continue to get motivation throughout the year is by staying in touch with the connections you have made. They are going through the same things you are but may have a different idea that can get you over the obstacle you are facing.
I learned A TON during the time in Vancouver. And, I took what I thought was a really awesome picture…
But this was all due to the fact that I received the Chamberlin Scholarship! AFP has a ton of wonderful opportunities that can be made possible through scholarships. Scroll through a few here and be on the lookout for any opportunities to use them. (ONE IS DUE MAY 1st – JUMP ON IT!)