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On March 29, around 3,500 people will convene in Baltimore for AFP ICON. Will you be one of them? If so, how will you make the most of your conference experience? 

ICON is a significant investment of time and money that has the potential to pay dividends. I’ve attended the conference and exhibited in the marketplace since 2018, and I’ve picked up some tips and tricks along the way. As an AFP Chicago member and volunteer, I frequently plan and participate in educational programs for my chapter, but ICON is a different ball game. There are upwards of 100 breakout sessions to choose from, a marketplace full of vendors sharing their latest and greatest products and thought leadership, and countless opportunities for networking and socializing with fellow fundraising professionals.

Let’s focus first on the sessions, the “meat” of your ICON sandwich. Here’s what I do to map out my ICON session plan of action:

1. Determine my main educational goal(s).

Are you hoping to gather tactical advice on a specific topic or current challenge for your organization? (Maybe you want to dig into the latest trends in digital fundraising: navigate to the Education Sessions page of the ICON website and do a quick search to see what pops up.) Or maybe you’re hoping for inspiration and some fresh perspective that will prepare you to creatively approach problems in the next year. (You might want to check out some sessions in the boundary-pushing Rebels, Renegades and Pioneers track.)

2. Scope out the speakers, not just the session titles and descriptions.

Are you hoping to gather tactical advice on a specific topic or current challenge for your organization? (Maybe you want to dig into the latest trends in digital fundraising: navigate to the Education Sessions page of the ICON website and do a quick search to see what pops up.) Or maybe you’re hoping for inspiration and some fresh perspective that will prepare you to creatively approach problems in the next year. (You might want to check out some sessions in the boundary-pushing Rebels, Renegades and Pioneers track.)

3. Coordinate with my colleagues.

If I’m attending with coworkers or other people I know from the AFP Chicago community, I always try to divide and conquer. It can be tempting to revert to the buddy system, but it’s a better strategy to attend different concurrent sessions and share notes later. (Attending sessions on your own also makes you more likely to say hello to your neighbor and make a new contact or friend.) You can use AFP’s online scheduler or the conference app to get started today and email a copy of your tentative plan to those you’ll be attending with so you can see potential overlap.

What am I missing? And what else do you want to know about getting everything you can out of AFP ICON? Hope you’ll join us on March 5 to have your questions answered and start gearing up to become a conference champion!

Join me: Thursday, March 5th, 2020 
for
Flash Class: How will you make the most of AFP ICON? With Tim Sarrantonio & Kelsey Nelson

REGISTER HERE

Curious for more? Visit the rest of our Mastermind Series content here! Deep dive with us and check out our recorded Flash Classes, LiveCast recordings, and podcasts with these same Masterclass presenters.

ABOUT THE PRESENTER

Kelsey Nelson

Consultant – kelsey.nelson@campbellcompany.com 

Kelsey’s passion for nonprofits drives her efforts to help them achieve and sustain growth through the power of philanthropy. She enjoys partnering with organizations on strategic goal setting and intentional relationship building, always looking for opportunities to leverage their existing strengths.

As a member of Campbell & Company’s fundraising team, Kelsey partners with dozens of nonprofits each year to help them create greater impact in their communities. Kelsey also co-leads the firm’s innovation practice and its online fundraising team—driving the development of new services and approaches to propel the sector forward.

Prior to joining Campbell & Company in 2016, Kelsey worked in the University of Michigan’s central development office as Assistant Director of Annual Giving. Kelsey began her career in philanthropy at the Adler Planetarium, where she worked closely with the Board of Trustees and oversaw special events, publications, and partnerships designed to advance the Adler’s mission. 

Kelsey holds an MA in Art Education from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a BA in History of Art & Architecture and French from Middlebury College, where she remains involved as a class agent and alumni interviewer. She recently concluded two years as chair of AFP Chicago’s Continuous Learning Council and now serves on the chapter’s Board of Directors. She is an avid runner and cross-country skier.

How will you make the most of AFP ICON? | The Masterminds Blogs