When AFP ICON, the world’s largest conference for fundraising professionals, was forced to cancel their event this March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, AFP leadership quickly shifted their strategy to a virtual option.
Held online from March 29-31, AFP ICON Virtual featured three days of educational sessions with speakers like nonprofit expert Gail Perry, attorney-turned-philanthropic advisor Laura Fredricks, and global food philanthropist Chef José Andrés.
Why go virtual?
“As far as the nonprofit sector, people have been so creative. They’ve been thinking of ways to do their events online. They’ve had to adapt and pivot quickly--just like AFP,” remarked Karen Rotko-Wynn, Chair of the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy.
With a virtual conference app, live web sessions, a book club, leaderboards, and Facebook Live events, there was plenty of social interaction, in spite of social distancing. One conference attendee commented on Facebook, “I meet WAY more people on the app than I do in person, and I’m a social butterfly!”
AFP Foundation Fundraiser
During the conference, attendees had the opportunity to donate to AFP’s Be the Cause annual campaign that supports nonprofit professionals through scholarships, education and leadership development. In 2019, the Be the Cause campaign raised nearly $400,000 in funds which go directly back to local chapters.
Acknowledging that this is a difficult time where people are losing jobs, Rothko-Wynn said, “We are in a position to raise additional funds, to exceed our regular fundraising goals, and to be thinking about how we can support the professionals in our sector.”
With donations matched by software developer Blackbaud, Give by Cell was honored to provide the mobile platform for the fundraising campaign. By simply texting, AFP to 56512, attendees could make a donation to the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy from their mobile phone.
Virtual Conferences - the New Normal?
Not surprisingly, online attendance at webinars, conferences, and virtual events has been higher than ever, as industry professionals are searching for ways their organizations can survive the pandemic. As more and more events pivot from in-person to virtual, technology continues to be the reigning solution.
While Give by Cell looks forward to the return of face-to-face meetings, we’re grateful for organizations like AFP who inspire us to move forward with perseverance and innovation.
Feeling generous? Donate to the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy by texting AFP to 56512.