ACTCON 2020 - 1100x260

Breakout Sessions

We are currently in the process of re-creating the breakout session schedule for a virtual format. Please check back soon!

Plan your day based on the content most useful to your work. With tracks focused on fundraising, communications, technology, or a combination of one or more, there is truly something for everyone on your team!

Each breakout period throughout the day has a wide array of fundraising, communications, technology, or combined topics (see breakouts by topic), allowing you and your team to map out a day that matches your professional and organizational development.


Building a Planned Giving Program from Scratch
Charitable bequests and other planned gifts have historically played a significant role in the funding of larger nonprofits, yet one or two person shops can add a massive source of revenue to their mix with minimal enhancements to their fundraising plans. Through slow drip campaigns piloted at the University of Minnesota, building a full bevy of marketing materials at Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, the presenters will offer the building blocks to start attracting and receiving planned gifts. The presenters will explain from the wealth advisory perspective how to approach planned giving conversations, how to gain a partnership with a financial planning firm, and how they can do a sizable amount of work for a nonprofit.
Dave Hogen, financial planner, M&E Catalyst Group and Mike Linnemann, development director, Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness

Content Marketing Strategy and Production for Scrappy Nonprofits
Getting started with content marketing or advancing your current efforts can be confusing. This session covers content marketing essentials, gives you the tools and framework to begin or advance your own content marketing efforts, and provides a deep dive into examples with real world results. Specifically you’ll learn why content marketing works, how to develop a strategy and plan, and how to measure your results. You’ll walk away with a solid understanding of how content marketing can impact your organization and a proven framework for getting started.
Molly Bachman, director of development, Mind Body Solutions; Sydney Franklin, director of marketing partnerships and Nick Longtin, senior marketing technologist, ArcStone

Fundraising First: Aligning Plans for Growth
For many organizations, growth is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, expanding means your programs are a success, and impacting more members of your community! On the other hand, expanding means increasing expenses, bigger budgets, and higher overhead, which all-too-often means scrambling to find additional donors. This session will talk about how to approach growth from a fundraising first perspective, ensuring that you have the financial foundation to expand your programming strategically. In this session you will hear real life examples from ANEW BAM, a Twin Cities nonprofit dedicated to the academic success of youth and families that has successfully doubled its impact and its budget in less than five years by proactively fundraising for growth. In addition, we will discuss specific strategies for creating a growth-oriented fundraising plan through thoughtful donor cultivation, community engagement, and a focus on capacity building and general operating support.
Ellen Davis, founder, Future Funding; Kevin Robinson, executive director, ANEW BAM; and Christine Schwitzer, director of development, YouthLink

Migrating to SharePoint Online with Confidence
For years, the talking point about SharePoint Online was that it wasn’t ready. That’s no longer the case. Cloud-based file management from Microsoft works, and works well. In this session, you’ll hear about the benefits of SharePoint, how one organization made the move to the cloud, what some of the challenges were, and how to avoid them.
Luciano Patino, IT and data manager, Propel Nonprofits

More Than a Logo
An organization’s brand must fit harmoniously with its mission, programs, services, and the communities served. Good branding considers the full picture of how the organization behaves (brand personality) and looks (brand identity). An organization must have a clear picture of who they are targeting, what their place in the nonprofit landscape is, what promise they make to their audiences, and how they can support their claims. Together we will explore why a brand is more than a logo and how to begin the branding process within your organization before working with a design partner. Attendees will be guided through the process of creating a brand persona and be given the opportunity to begin creating one for their organization. A downloadable workbook will be provided for participants to finish creating this persona with the rest of their team. Options for funding a branding project, what to expect from the process, and the steps following the completion of a branding project will also be discussed.
Tasha Klettenberg, creative director, Saint Paul Media; Marcia Milliken, executive director and Katie Rojas-Jahn, director of communications and strategy, Minnesota Children's Alliance

Reimagining Fundraising as a Restorative Practice
Starting from the desire for the board to raise more money, SEJE Consulting and The Student Advocacy Center (SAC) partnered to explore how SAC could better integrate its fundraising practices and organizational values. We stopped to ask: what would fundraising as a restorative practice look like? To answer this question, we convened a talking circle. By using this restorative practice, we created space for reflection, deep listening, compassion, and accountability. As a result, the board began an ongoing dialogue about embracing community-centric fundraising principles. We will share our story highlighting what we’re learning as SAC continues to re-calibrate its fundraising practices. During the session, we will facilitate a talking circle to allow each participant to experience its transformative power while exploring personal narratives about money and fundraising. Each participant will leave with a primer on how to facilitate talking circles and an introduction to principles of Community-Centric Fundraising.
Erica de Klerk, partner, SEJE Consulting; Danielle Flint, assistant director, Student Advocacy Center of Michigan; and Jillian Gross Fortgang, partner, SEJE Consulting 

Turn Data Points into Useful Information with Dashboards
This interactive session will explore the basics of using data analysis tools to produce useful information for your organization and/or constituents. The presenter will lay the groundwork with tips on data tracking systems and capturing data points that are meaningful (garbage in - garbage out). Attendees will be provided examples of interactive reports and explanations of the technology behind the scenes. We will produce simple data visualizations using PowerBI and discuss how this tool could work for participants.
Linda Widdop, director of client solutions, Tech Impact

3, 2, 1, Launch: How to Start a Successful Online Community for Your Nonprofit
In 2018 the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of the Twin Cities created a space for community, networking, and resource-sharing via a members-only Facebook group. Just like "IRL" (in-real-life) communities, online networks require research, planning, and investment. Since launching our group we have used the template to plan two other digital community launches -- we know our model works! Join us to go behind the scenes, learn how we did it, and apply the process to your own work.
Ruth Hamberg, founder & principal, Squaretree LLC; Gordon Liu, executive director, Faribault Diversity Coalition; and Kristin Skaar, development & communications director, Habitat for Humanity Minnesota                            

DIY Website ADA Compliance Audits
You know it's important to have a website that is accessible. But what does accessibility mean for a website and how do you know if you're not in compliance? The purpose of this session is to give attendees a better understanding of accessibility on the web, and the ability to perform an ADA compliance audit on your own website. The session will start with a presentation that explains some of the different aspects of web accessibility: page load times, alternative text, closed captioning, etc. Then, as a group, we will explore the free tools that are available and how to use those tools to determine if your website is in compliance with WCAG 2.1 standards. We will then learn how to document accessibility issues and cover quick fixes for common compliance problems.
Jonathan Hatch, executive director, Saint Paul Media and Iris Key, development manager, Vision Loss Resources

Donor Advised Funds 101
Given the rise in popularity of donor advised funds, it’s time for a deeper look. In this session you will learn what are they, how to work with local community foundations, how to identify in your pool of donors who has a donor advised fund, and how to cultivate and steward the funds.
Sharon DeMark, program officer and Mala Thao, philanthropic advisor, Saint Paul and Minnesota Foundations

Get the Best Cybersecurity Protection for your Organization...for Free!
2019 was a bad year for cybersecurity, and 2020 will likely be worse, what with a rise in phishing attacks fueled by artificial intelligence, ransomware targeting smartphones, and “botnets-for-hire.” What’s an organization to do? This session starts with an overview of today’s most serious threats, followed by an exploration of the CIS Controls—a prioritized set of best practices developed by security experts from around the world to stop the most pervasive and dangerous threats. The controls are concrete actions that are implementable, usable, scalable, and easy to communicate. You can start implementing them today. Oh, and they’re completely free. This is not about compliance: it’s about strategically defending your organization against today's worst threats. Don’t purchase another device. Instead, invest in a tried-and-true cybersecurity program built on a spirit of community that will help you become more secure. 
Roger Hagedorn, senior security analyst, City of Minneapolis

How To Better Align Your Communications & Development Strategies
Communications is about words. Development is about numbers. The teams from each are from different worlds and speak different languages, right? Maybe; but they’re strongest and most effective when everything is aligned. This session will present case studies that demonstrate when these relationships are strengthened. Results include a heightened awareness and understanding, and ultimately more dollars for an organization. Time will be spent discussing how and why the lines between communications, marketing, and fundraising are blurrier than ever and sharing concrete tips on the best strategic and tactical practices to earn devotion and funds from supporters. Part panel discussion, part Q&A, this session will also address how organizations of any size and structure can scale the information and tips provided to meet their unique needs.
Elizabeth Cooper, director of brand strategy & communications, Second Harvest Heartland; Briana Gruenewald, senior account executive, Bellmont Partners; and Connie Schlundt, director of direct marketing, Second Harvest Heartland

Matchmaking: The Art and Science of Institutional Giving
Before putting pen to paper, it is crucial organizations complete the necessary pre-work of match determination and cultivation to successfully secure grants. Writing a grant is the last step in the process to secure institutional donations and is highly unlikely to bring in revenue if intentional groundwork is not laid first. This session discusses the intersection of communications, prospect research, and cultivation for institutional donors. We will discuss the importance of marketing to capture the attention of funders, how to identify funding that aligns with strategic goals and maximizes return on investment, how to connect research to the cultivation process, and how to create a plan for action. If you find it difficult to say “no” to a prospect or RFP or are unsure of how to open a conversation with a foundation, this session is for you.
Michelle Edgerton, founder and principal, The Edgerton Group LLC and Emily Greenwald Johnson, principal, Tikkun Grant Advancement

$how me the Money? $how me the Relation$hip!
Authentic relationships with donors and prospects are essential to launching, growing, and sustaining your fundraising program. But with fewer dollars and fewer staff, and metrics and dashboards guiding our work, how can one create that authenticity? How can we reduce donor attrition and recapture lapsed donors? This session will focus on how to build a portfolio of investors that want to engage with your organization and with you. It will provide real tools to find out how to listen to your donors and learn about how they want to engage with your organization. Session attendees will develop the skills to engage donors while maintaining accountability organizational leadership. This session is perfect for professional working at small or larger nonprofits and those looking to create a donor portfolio from the ground up.
Jeffrey Prottas, chief development officer, Saint Paul Jewish Federation; Jason Rose, Major gift officer, Greater Twin Cities United Way; and Lisa Stein, director of philanthropy, American Cancer Society

What’s Next: Trendspotting for Nonprofit Storytelling and Design
Nonprofits on the frontlines of social change don’t often have the luxury of time or resources to be inspired, to be creative, to innovate, let alone effectively run our programs, fundraise, communicate our impact, and manage our staff, board, and volunteers. We rinse and repeat and do our best to keep our heads above water. It’s time to infuse our work with creativity and inspiration. In this session, we’ll create the space for you to flex those creative muscles, to be inspired by trends in graphic design, experiential design, and narrative storytelling that centers empathy, equity, and our shared humanity. We’ll lead you through an audit of your own branding and communications—evaluating what’s tired and what has energy. We’ll share case studies of organizations who got buy in on creative ideas and program innovations that are both mission- and future-forward.         
Jamie Millard, executive director, Mónica Nadal, art + talent director, and Jerome Rankine, editorial director, Pollen Midwest

CRM Shootout at the OK Corral
Get ready to say howdy to your new CRM! There’s a cowboy saying: Never ask a barber if you need a haircut. That’s why we aren’t having any vendors speak in this session—just your nonprofit peers. They will take turns sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly about their CRM (customer relationship management) software, with an emphasis on donor management. Our goal is to help you understand some pros and cons of different platforms and identify a few that might be a good fit for you. You’ll have time for questions and comparing notes with peers before you ride off into the sunset.
Dee Baskin, operations manager, Gender Justice; Karen Graham, director of education and outreach, Tech Impact; Jen Hadley, database coordinator, Friends of the Mississippi River; Emily Orr, director of adaptive recreation & inclusion, Reach for Resources; and Winona Schultz, development associate, Can Do Canines

Get Your Digital Ducks in a Row: Preparing your Nonprofit for a Successful Website Redesign
Outdated design. Poor search engine rankings. Slow-loading pages. Confusing navigation. These are just some of the reasons your nonprofit may be thinking it’s time for a website overhaul. Before you start salivating over the latest and greatest designs, though, there is work to be done to up your odds of a successful redesign. Join this session to learn more about steps every nonprofit should consider taking BEFORE migrating a single word, image, or video to a new digital home, including auditing your current website, surveying your users, thoroughly researching potential platforms and vendors, crafting a realistic budget and timeline, and getting buy-in from your leadership and board.
John Wurm, membership & communications director, Minnesota Council of Nonprofits

IT and Operations for Equity
Most nonprofits these days have goals around equity and justice. This work can often seem removed from the folks in operations and IT. In reality, everyone has a role in advancing justice. While organizational leaders and program teams look out into the community to make change, IT and operations can look inward to assure that we live our values every day. We'll discuss collecting and reporting data to support DEI work, drafting flexible policies, designing workspaces for every kind of person, and many other ways in which operations and IT professionals can advocate for and make change.
Luciano Patino, IT and data manager, Propel Nonprofits

Myth vs. Reality: The Data on What Motivates Your Donors
How do you communicate with your donors in a way that motivates them to act? This fun and interactive session will build on the 2019 Myth vs. Research session to continue to examine some of the persistent myths around what communications methods most engage donors in your work. We will look at the latest research around what donors want to learn about your organization, and learn some of the proven ways to engage donors (and a few surprising ways you might turn them away). We’ll talk about some of the new and innovative ways nonprofits are engaging and educating donors about their work online and offline. You’ll leave with new, proven tools to evaluate and enhance your existing donor communications, and data to back up your decisions back at the office.
Jules Wilkins, chief advancement officer, Montessori Center of Minnesota and principle, JulesWrites.com

Pivot to the Positive: Asset-Based Communications & Fundraising
From addressing systemic inequity to interpersonal violence, communications and development staff at mission-driven nonprofits have a challenging task: telling authentic stories that center justice and position the systems as what needs to be changed instead of the people they impact. By pivoting away from out dated - or simply tired - communications tropes towards positive, asset-based messaging, organizations have the opportunity to offer transformative messages about their communities and invite in new ways of partnership with those who fund their work.
Andrea Sanow, communications manager, Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and Becky Smith, Communications Director, Violence Free Minnesota

The Power of Media Relations
In this panel, nonprofit leaders will discuss how their organizations have benefitted from strong media coverage and share the important lessons they have learned along the way. Moderated by a local PR expert and former TV reporter, you’ll learn how media relations remain one of the most impactful ways to tell your story. Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis will discuss how its organization became a thought leader around the issue of homelessness. The Innocence Project of Minnesota will share its experience using media relations to help influence legislation to provide compensation for exonerees.
Chris Duffy, vice president of public relations, Goff Public; Amanda Horner, senior communications manager, Catholic Charities of Saint Paul and Minneapolis; and Julie Jonas, legal director, Innocence Project of Minnesota

Revolutionary Fundraising: Lessons from the Headwaters' Giving Project
In this workshop, you’ll hear from past participants of the Headwaters Foundation for Justice Giving Project about their experience of raising money through relational, one-to-one fundraising. You’ll learn about the participatory grantmaking process that places racial justice, democratic decision-making, and community voice at the center of the work. You’ll leave with new ideas and inspiration to build community across difference and move resources in ways that reflect the world we want to see. Learn how cohort participants have translated the skills of the Giving Project into everyday work. The Giving Project is an innovative national model that funds social change, builds community, and develops leaders. Over the last five years, nearly 100 participants in Headwaters Foundation for Justice’s Giving Project have collectively given and raised over $650,000 to support community organizing led by and for people of color in Minnesota.
Jonathan C. W. Jones, founder, Ideation4; Samantha Sencer-Mura, executive director, 826 MSP; and AsaleSol Young, marketing and development director, Urban Homeworks

Solve Common Communication & Collaboration Problems with O365  
Microsoft O365 provides a customizable, shared workspace for your team to chat, meet, share, collaborate, and work better together. The tools we will cover are FREE for most nonprofits. Join this session as we explore Microsoft Teams, Planner, and SharePoint. These tools can help your team: get organized, communicate more effectively, use file collaboration without sacrificing security, and bring greater visibility and accountability to action items. The tools we will discuss and demonstrate will not only increase the communication and collaboration of your team, but they are mobile-friendly, easy-to-use, convenient, and secure! When you have a place to improve communication and collaboration, you can spend more time fulfilling your mission.  
Nathan Austin, vice president of business development, Mytech Partners

Become More Effective Reaching Your Donors Using Personas
Your donors of money, goods, and time are all unique individuals. However, your donor base probably can be described by the 80/20 rule – 20% of them provide 80% of your donations. In this session, you will learn how to categorize and personalize your most impactful donors into three to five personas. A persona is a fictional summarization of your active donors, described by demographics, lifestyles, and values. This will allow you to better target your communication to current active donors, and also to reach out to similar people who are not currently donors
Lisa Lindgren, principal, LML Marketing LLC and Funwi Tita, donor & community relations, Central Minnesota Habitat for Humanity

BEHAVE Live! D.E.I. meets Marketing & Communications
This session opens with a 20-minute live recording of the Team Dynamics podcast BEHAVE. The presenters will talk about the partnership between Team Dynamics and Minnesota Opera’s to effectively meet DEI goals. They will offer up new approaches for attendees that they can begin incorporating in their work immediately. The session feature a Q&A where attendees can get specific tools to address their pressing needs around diversity, equity, and inclusion in their marketing and communications work. We’ll also provide opportunities during the session when attendees can interact with one another in small groups. Attendees will have the chance to get clarity for themselves using our Role, Goal, Soul framework, and we’ll share some equity frameworks to better understand how to make strategic decisions around marketing, communications, and fundraising while leveraging differences.
Rocky Jones, communications manager, Minnesota Opera; Trina Olson, co-founder and principle and Alfonso Wenker, co-founder and president, Team Dynamics LLC

Data Backup in the Age of the Cloud
Today, some of your organization’s data may be based in “the cloud.” Does that mean there is no need for your organization to backup anything anymore? The answer is, if anything, more complex than when everything lived in your server closet. Today’s nonprofit organization uses a mix of hosted services (G Suite, Office 365, Salesforce, etc.), local data (QuickBooks, Adobe Creative Cloud), and content management systems you manage, but are hosted elsewhere. Find out how to locate where all your data lives, how to prioritize what to back up (if anything), and learn about tools to use to back up (and recover) that data. You’ll learn about the many risks to your data and what backup approaches can help reduce those risks.
Brian Roemen, principal, Technology Operations, Brave North Technology and Peter Tatikian, technology manager, Can Do Canines

How Public Policy Influences Nonprofits: A Panel Discussion
Join this session to explore how organizations can be involved in advocacy/public policy, examine recent public policy/tax law changes, and dissect how the changes impact philanthropy. The session will include a panel discussion with three nonprofit advocacy leaders as they discuss how their programs were established, how they use volunteers, how to use technology and communications to build support for their advocacy issues, how their organizations collaborate with other groups to affect systemic change, and how to talk about public policy priorities with donors or in fundraising messaging.
Jeremy Wells, vice president of philanthropic services, The Saint Paul & Minnesota Community Foundations and panelists

The Life-Changing Magic of Google Analytics Campaigns
In this interactive training you’ll learn how to use the powerful but elusive Campaigns feature to measure your organization’s outreach efforts and determine which methods drive the most traffic to your site. The session will cover how to configure the three fields (campaign, source, medium) to best assess your nonprofit’s online outreach. You’ll get expert tips about where you can get creative with your custom configuration, and where you have to follow the rules! The presenter will help you understand how to get Campaigns to work for your specific nonprofit, no matter which email and social media tools you use. Bring your laptop and your questions to this skill-building workshop.
Yesenia Sotelo, digital skills trainer and web developer, SmartCause Digital  

Personal Stories: Tapping and Evaluating Their Persuasive Power
Most nonprofits depend on individuals to share their personal stories in support of the organization’s mission and goals, and to help drive change. But how do we know those stories truly have an impact? And how do we demonstrate to others the value of using personal stories to raise awareness, educate, motivate, or advocate? These are the questions Wilder Research and Living Proof Advocacy set out to answer in a year-long study. In this interactive session, the two organizations will share study findings and recommendations culled from research and interviews with nonprofits that use spoken personal stories for advocacy. (Spoiler alert: emotional content is key to engaging audiences, but it may not lead to action.) Then, session leaders will present models for evaluating the effectiveness of personal storytelling for advocacy. Participants will brainstorm how to apply study insights and will receive access to the full report, including an evaluation toolkit.
John Capecci, senior coach, Living Proof Advocacy and Emma Connell, research associate, Wilder Research

Self-Care for Fundraisers
Fundraising as a career is tough on people. You’re not given much support, and often asked to raise unreasonable amounts of money unreasonably fast. It’s isolating work, while being an incredibly public role. Most of your job is unseen emotional labor: managing the feelings of your donors. While acknowledging that structural changes must be made to fundraising as a field, we know fundraisers are adaptive, resilient folks who’ve figured out how to take care of themselves in the midst of these challenges. This session will be centered on whichever fundraisers are in the room, since you all are the experts on your experiences and tools. Presenters will offer topic areas for discussion, but we’ll spend most of our time in small groups and large interactive conversations building a fundraisers’ self-care toolkit together.
Jake Blumberg, executive director, Unny Nambudiripad, fundraising strategist, and Leah Olm, director of coaching and curriculum, GiveMN


ACTCON: Communications Breakouts

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ACTCON: Fundraising Breakouts

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ACTCON: Technology Breakouts

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ACTCON: Blended Breakouts

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