I am the chair-elect on the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy and I felt it everywhere, from the board room to the conference floor to the smartphone app. I've been to almost every conference since 1988 and this was different. And people are writing about it.
One of the wonderful things about being on the AFP International board, is the opportunity to become friends with outstanding fundraisers from around the world. Daryl Upsall from Spain is one of those people for me. Here’s his blog about the conference:
A New Sort of Buzz - Passionate, Challenging, Calming and Inspiring
I spend much of my working life speaking at fundraising conferences around the world. Indeed as I write I am en route to the Finnish fundraising conference in Helsinki. My first AFP (then NSFRE) conference was in Boston just over 20 years ago, and I have been to very many since.
At the AFP International Fundraising Conference this year in Boston, there was a genuine, new buzz and excitement in the air, the likes of which I have not seen so clearly expressed by attendees and presenters before. I would like to think that it was because when planning the conference this time, we changed the structure, themes and format of many of the tracks and sessions.
Was it because we introduced new and challenging tracks, such as the well-attended and well-received “Rebels, Renegades and Pioneers?” Or was it that we had sessions which fiercely debated many of the controversial key issues that affect our sector today, including several “sacred cows” of fundraising? I am sure both played a part.
During the conference the app postings read nothing like a report from a “business as usual” fundraising convention, but more like the ecstatic cries of joy of a music festival, or shouts of collective solidarity of a liberation or social change movement, or ....dare I say the rallying cries of an election rally.
I genuinely believe that all of us—organizers, volunteers, presenters and attendees—created something special in Boston.
I had young attendees come up to me and say some of us “old rebels” gave them the courage to take the fight for justice forward through their role as fundraisers at a time in their career when they had uncertainties. I had some of our more mature fundraising leaders feel that the AFP Conference was now giving fundraisers the forum to debate the big issues—be those social, political or more internal, such as how the sector is managed and governed.
We even had demands for the “Rebels” sessions logo to be available on coffee mugs, posters and other items to remind them that we are about inspiring and catalysing change.
With so much excitement in Boston, I am already looking forward to next year’s event in 2017 San Francisco, which should be an even greater success. See you all there!
Daryl Upsall, FInstF, is AFP's vice chair of professional advancement. Twitter: @darylupsall