2021 Conference Sessions

Detailed session descriptions will be added as they are received. We’re going to have thirty sessions – so check back! Also, the session schedule and individual session signup will be added in the coming days.

Opening Plenary Session:
Get Engaged:  All The Sessions You Don’t Want To Miss…
Welcome, Introductions and Conference Highlights
Margaret Neitzel and Bob Burdenski, Conference Co-Chairs
With a welcome from Ellen Whitlock Baker, Seattle University.
Conference Host and Co-Chair Margaret Neitzel from Seattle University will join CASE Laureate and annual giving curmudgeon Bob Burdenski to launch the 2021 Pacific Northwest Engage Conference with a festive welcome and a rapid-fire rundown of their favorite conference sessions and speakers to follow.

Things I Wish I’d Known as an Annual Giving Director:
Five Omni Channel Marketing Lessons Learned
Rick Ericson, Holt International
Back in his university days he talked about integrated marketing across direct mail, phone and email. Now, in his current gig with Holt International (a faith-based humanitarian organization and adoption agency), he talks about omni channel marketing across those channels plus Facebook, Google ads, SMS, search traffic (organic and paid), YouTube content… as well as conversion funnels, increasing single-gift frequency and its effect on retention, digitally-assisted conversions, and a lot more. Hear his report on what he’s learned, and what we need to know in education fundraising.

Crowdfunding 2.0 – Beyond the Basics
Shaina Spencer, University of Iowa Foundation
You’ve done a good job addressing the needs of student groups on your campus – where does your crowdfunding program go next? Since the pandemic, the University of Iowa has seen a big shift in crowdfunding, from mostly student/faculty-led to donor-led projects. Partnerships with development officers, repeatable year-over-year projects , and a newly-kicked off “Champions” program this fall have led to greater donor involvement in the projects and causes they care about the most.

◼ The Advancement Services Answer Man
John Taylor, John H. Taylor Consulting
Do you need to vent on matters relating to donor-advised funds? What constitutes a real pledge and whether others can pay that off? Or do you have nagging questions on quid pro quo topics like when do you have to worry about those and how do you determine fair market value? Or perhaps you have in-kind donation, sponsorship, and advertising questions? Whatever is on your mind, grab a cup of Seattle’s Best (or Starbucks – neither are sponsors) and join John Taylor for a free-for-all Q&A session!

An Annual Giving Writing Roundtable
Bob Burdenski, Moderator
A group of wordsmiths will lead a forum discussion on the annual giving writing process. What themes resonate? What voices do you use – including the voice of your institution’s leadership? What considerations do you make for different audiences? How do you use humor? Urgency? Guilt? Peer pressure? When do you write with brevity, when do you write an extended proposal, and when do you write for “however long it takes to tell the story?” Join us for some direction and some discussion on ways to approach your annual giving writing objectives.

An Alumni Engagement Forum
Danielle Dougherty Durham, The College of Idaho
In-person, online, or hybrid? We may be entering the most complicated period of engagement in the history of our institutions. Bring your engagement questions, ideas, and solutions to this discussion about what’s next in alumni engagement.

◼ What We’ve Learned in Three Years of Measuring Alumni Engagement
Jenny Cooke Smith, CASE
Now it its third year, CASE’s Alumni Engagement Metrics (AEM) survey can provide your institution with benchmarks and insights to help shape strategies and set goals. By collecting counts of alumni engaged philanthropically, as volunteers, experientially, and through communication, the survey provides a framework for measuring engagement consistently across the globe. In this session, you’ll learn which alumni are most likely to engage, how to discuss the pipeline between engagement and giving, and tips for replacing participation with engagement as a proxy for alumni affinity. This session will provide you with a path forward, whether you are just beginning to make the case for capturing data and collaborating beyond the advancement office, or setting strategies using engagement benchmarking results.

Community-Centric Engagement and Fundraising
Ellen Whitlock Baker, Seattle University

The Data-Driven Leadership Annual Giving Program
Cynthia Cohn, Whitman College

◼ Direct Mail Recipes – Add Spice to All Your Channels
Christina Brandel, CFRE, Marketing Communication Resource, Inc.
Stuck in an appeal rut? Want to spice things up but can’t seem to find the right recipe that pulls in all your favorite channels? Join in a conversation about how to use your favorite “ingredients” to spice up all your appeals.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Advancement
Charu Uppal, Portland Art Museum
Maureen Procopio, University of Oregon
Correan Barker, The Evergreen State College


The Supporter Journey
Betsy Johnson Brown, Swedish Health Foundation
Christine Lessard, University of Washington

Engagement and Stewardship at Other Not-For-Profits: No Donor Left Behind
Ross Imbler, Oregon Humane Society
Ali Bessee, Boys and Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound
Meagan Bataran, Oregon Symphony
Other not-for-profits don’t enjoy the pre-existing emotional connection (with alumni) that educational institutions do. When they receive a gift, the relationship-building clock starts ticking. What strategies do three different not-for-profit organizations use to welcome donors, promote engagement and earn trust?

Everything Has Changed: A Revolutionary New Approach to Advancement Scott Williams and Colleen Cook, Vinyl Marketing
What if you woke up one day and discovered that your home was sitting on an oil well large enough that, once tapped, would provide for you and your family for generations. Would you drill?  Of course you would. It would be unthinkable not to.  Your institution is currently sitting on a wealth of data. It’s just sitting there, unused, untapped, collecting dust. And we want to invite you to learn how to drill into this resource that will change the trajectory of your institution, no matter its size.

Annual Philanthropy in Healthcare and Medical Schools
Ande Peterson, UW Medicine
Grateful patients, Doctors’ Day, whitecoat ceremonies, memorial gifts and HIPAA. Annual giving in healthcare and med school environments offers particular opportunities – and particular challenges. Learn about what a year in the life of annual giving looks like at UW Medicine.

The New Annual Giving Org Chart: Staffing, Sharing, Sourcing and Skill Sets
Ashley Buderus, Aspen Leadership Group,
Andrea Michelbach, Pacific Lutheran University,
Margaret Neitzel, Seattle University

and Bob Burdenski
A generation of fundraisers worked in the calling room as students and then were hired by the advancement office. It still happens, but as desired skill sets have expanded, the career paths have become more varied. Where do you find digital fundraisers? What if YOUR skills are a little outdated? What if your best candidate wants to work remotely? When do you share skills among departments? And when do you outsource a job function to a third party? Hear from a group that’s actively budgeting, hiring, recruiting, promoting and watching as the org chart quickly evolves to keep up with today’s challenges and opportunities.

A Student Engagement Team Forum: Calling, Text, Video and More
Nicholas Harvey, Western Washington University
Hayley Kindall, The College of Idaho

They’re not phonathon callers any more – they’re student engagement team members, and they’ve got new goals and new tools as well. Learn how two institutions have diversified the work of their student teams, created a more meaningful (and skilled) work experience in the process, and how text, video, prospect research and other tools. Join this open forum and share your own student team tips and experiences.

Lessons Learned: Engagement in a Capital Campaign (and a Pandemic)
Margaret Neitzel, Seattle University
Corinne Pann, MBA, Seattle University

In addition to your widely-publicized capital campaign fundraising goal, a campaign is a great opportunity to stretch your engagement capacity as well. Two veterans of Seattle University’s successful $302 million Campaign for the Uncommon Good talk about engagement during the campaign, the Covid curveball in the middle of it, and their lessons learned in the process.

An Independent School Engagement Forum
Andrea Saunders, Lee Pesky Learning Center (ID)
Join a group of independent school engagement professionals for a discussion forum all about schools and the particular audiences, messages, channels and culture surrounding school engagement with alumni, parents and friends. 

My Favorite Giving Day Ideas of the Year
Bob Burdenski
We’ve now been talking giving days for more than a decade, and they continue to be appreciated as a donor acquisition doorway and a collaborative campus opportunity to create some annual fundraising energy for your annual giving program. CASE Laureate Bob Burdenski will run down his favorite ideas and strategies for adding leverage to your giving day.

Setting Student Fundraisers up for Success
Rachel Spencer, Vanilla Soft
Your student fundraising team carries the lion’s share of the responsibility when it comes to converting and engaging your alumni and donors. It is largely up to them to deliver a positive experience for potential donors and, ultimately, inspire them to make a financial contribution. Despite this, oftentimes insufficient investment is made in recruiting and developing the best team for the task. This session will look at topics such as; student recruitment, training, development, motivation, incentives, retention and team-building. Your students are taking on what is arguably the toughest job in the development team and placing themselves on the very front line of your institution’s fundraising efforts. With this in mind, this entirely student-focussed session will ensure that you and your team are set up for maximum success.

◼ How Texting for Stewardship and Fundraising Nets a Return on Investment Jeff Meece, Mongoose

Re-Engaging the Disengaged Donor
John Taylor, John H. Taylor Consulting LLC
This session will look at what most frequently disenchants donors. We’ll answer the question: “What have we done (or not done) that caused our donor to disengage – and disappear?” We will also discuss how you can tell who has become disenchanted, collect information on why they became disenchanted, and discuss what you can do to win them back.

Engaging With Institutional Partners to Institutionalize Data
John Taylor, John H. Taylor Consulting LLC
Gathering advancement-important data across a campus (or campuses) can be complicated. Other department may not value the data (or its condition), and then there are data standards, maintenance, integrity, and protection. This session will discuss “essential data” and what advancement services can do to collect and maintain it. We’ll talk about engaging our institutional partners to foster a comprehensive approach to collecting advancement data. In addition, we will talk about the importance of an institutional data governance structure, data standards, and key components of “data acquisition and use” policies.

Turn Off the TV – What to Do With All These Channels?
Jonathan Van Oss, Pledgemine
Most of us struggle with just trying to reach our donors with one channel. Now there is “multichannel” and even “omnichannel” fundraising. It doesn’t need to be as intimidating as it seems, no matter how small or large your institution is. Learn how you can reach your donors in the most effective way possible by “listening” to what they tell you through their own giving behavior.