The Sheryl Blair Scholarship Experience
By Samantha Sanchez

Like many Donor Relations professionals, I came into this industry looking for some guidance. In my first few years, I relied heavily on benchmarking with other Chicagoland non-profits and the resources of the Association of Donor Relations Professionals subscription for which I advocated. Each year, I would look over the PDF presentations from the ADRP International Conference in hopes of learning best practices. However, without the context of a speaker and peers to discuss with, these presentations provided minimal support. I knew I needed to attend the conference to make strong connections and develop a deeper understanding of industry-wide challenges and opportunities.

Hours before the 2016 deadline, I learned of an opportunity that could make my attendance at the conference in Pittsburgh a possibility – a scholarship.

Named in memory of beloved former ADRP board member, Sheryl A. Blair, the Scholarship provides up to ten stipends of $1,000 to newcomers and experienced professionals in the donor relations/stewardship field to cover ADRP International Conference expenses.

I started my submission on the train home from work and finished with just an hour to go before deadline. In June, I was elated to learn that I had been selected as a recipient of the Newcomer Sheryl A. Blair Scholarship. I quickly booked my flight and hotel room.

When arriving in Pittsburgh, I was met with unbridled enthusiasm and support. I filled a notebook with contacts and ideas; many of which I continue to look back on when brainstorming or streamlining processes. The conference was an invaluable experience for me and without the Sheryl A. Blair Scholarship, I am not sure I would have had the chance.

Since my first experience with ADRP, I have assisted with the 2017 ADRP Midwest Regional Board and I am currently serving on two committees for this year’s International Conference in Las Vegas. I have enjoyed sharing in the enthusiasm of our vendors with my role on the Sponsorship Committee and I even helped identify this year’s Sheryl A. Blair Scholarship recipients as a member of the 2017 Scholarship Committee. It was a unique pleasure to see so many applicants that shared the same passion and journey.

While I will not be in attendance this year, I could not be more excited for the first time attendees of this year’s ADRP International Conference. You will enjoy those three days, but it will be the days, months, and years that follow which will make you feel at home in this rapidly growing profession. 
Before You Leave-a for the Viva 

With nearly a month before our exciting Vegas conference, you might be asking,
“How can I be better prepared for all of this awesomeness?” 

Well, don’t sweat it! Here’s a checklist of 10 things to keep in mind that will keep the stakes low before you high roll into town.

1. Double-check your flight plans/travel accommodations a couple days before. We don’t want to miss seeing you because you accidentally went to Las Palmas instead!
2. Layer it up. Bring clothes that are adaptable in any temperature setting – inside and out.
3. Download the Conference App. Includes helpful info like the schedule, list of attendees/sponsors/presenters, hotel map, and more! We will be officially rolling this out very soon, so stay tuned!
4. Bring those business cards. Because you’re seasoned enough not to write your info on a crumpled napkin!
5. Get your tech on. Laptop, phone, tablet - whatever suits your fancy. And, you can never underestimate the power of a backup battery! But in case you don’t, we’ll have a charging station ready for you at the conference hospitality room, in addition to other amenities.
6. Check out our Dine-Around Restaurants. What better way to network with your colleagues than to indulge in some of Vegas’ finest restaurants together! 
7. Become a mentee-mentor. Newbie to the conference? Have some wisdom to pass on as a conference veteran? Then connect through the Mentor Program today!
8. Look up the speakers who are leading your sessions. They’ll love that you’ve done your homework and it’ll lead to more meaningful discussions.
9. Social media pre-game. Let your followers know you are going beforehand. You may have a group of new connections awaiting your presence even before you arrive! Then remember to tweet it up during and after!
10. Set a post-conference reminder to follow-up with folks you met. Because as donor relations professionals, it’s what we do!

We are excited to welcome back Brook Recognition as a Platinum Sponsor of the 14th Annual ADRP International Conference. Their passion is working with you, sharing their knowledge and expertise to ensure your campaign is a success. On that note, we are happy to share with you the following insight from Brook Recognition!

Delivering an Experience Your Donors Want and Ask For
Understanding Their Journey, Then Mapping It.

Donor-centered fundraising and the donor experience are the new buzz-words for improving donor relations and donor retention rates. But what do they really mean? How can you be sure you are delivering a great donor experience? Do you know what your donors want from your organization after they make a donation, or why they donated in the first place?

The donor experience is not about stewarding the donor after a one-time donation. While a heartfelt "thank you" is still critical, the donor experience encompasses other equally important aspects, such as communications, branding, recognition systems, events, and public relations. It is about creating a positive donor-centered encounter at each touchpoint within your organization, which leads to a much deeper relationship with the donor.

More than ever, you need to be able to measure and analyze what your donor experience looks like within your organization. You need to know what your donors want/need, what’s currently working, where improvements can be made, and how you can engage staff. Ultimately, to keep your donors satisfied, you need to deliver the experience that donors want.

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"Bright Lights" and "BIG Opportunities" are the two themes of The Association of Donor Relations Professionals (ADRP) 14th Annual International Conference at the Rio Las Vegas. They are also the two main reasons you should join us from September 26-28, 2017 in Las Vegas for the experience.

Bright Lights

Bright Lights mean more to ADRP than what we might normally associate with Las Vegas. By attending the conference, you can expect these three bright lights:

Brightest Minds

Registration for this year’s conference is breaking records; we’re on our way to a new level of professional excellence at the largest international conference dedicated to donor relations and stewardship. In Vegas, you will have access to over 550+ development, donor relations, fundraising, advancement, stewardship, special event professionals, and technology trends in the development/fundraising fields. There is no better opportunity for professional development than joining the brightest minds in our field as we gather among the bright lights to teach, learn, connect, socialize, explore, grow, and share.

Brightest Ideas

When it comes to accessing the brightest ideas in donor relations and stewardship, this conference is a must. Exceptional work has gone into curating the academic content for the conference sessions and master classes – they will be jam packed with bright ideas. Check out the program page to read about the industry experts who will be participating, like our keynote speaker, Dr. Adrian Sargeant, the world's foremost fundraising academic. ‘Go all-in’ with the very popular Mentor/Mentee program for one-on-one professional development. The Tuesday evening networking reception will be a priceless opportunity to meet other professionals while having some ‘Vegas-style’ fun!

Bright Lights – Literally!

While at the conference, attendees will have access to one of Las Vegas’ premier entertainment properties: The Rio Las Vegas. Just a few steps away from the conference center are show stages that feel like they were transported right from Brazil’s Carnival. There is a free, nightly ‘Parade in the Sky’ performance that is a must-see. There will be a power walk each morning of the conference that will take you out into the bright morning light of Las Vegas. In the evenings, dine-around networking opportunities will take smaller groups out to destinations that allow them to experience the world-famous bright lights, eat a great meal, and have fun networking. On Thursday evening, attendees who sign up for the conference excursion will be getting a ‘double down’ special tour of two top-rated attractions – The Neon Sign Museum and the Mob Museum. Both offer a unique experience and opportunity for networking that should not be missed.

BIG Opportunities

Big opportunities are what ADRP is all about. Here are the three big ones you can expect from attending the conference:

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Early Bird's Place in the Sun

Photo courtesy Photo by Matthew Dixon / Getty Images

September seems far away as we enjoy the warmth (and humidity) of the summer season. Autumn will be here before we know it and a highlight of the season will be the “Bright Lights, Big Opportunities” 14th Annual ADRP International Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada!

Being the astute planners that we all are, I know many have already registered to join us at the Rio Hotel, September 26-28, 2017. The ADRP Office reports that there are over 216 confirmed attendees. That’s 24% more registered attendees than at the same point for last year’s conference. If you aren’t already one of the lucky ones, you may want to consider registering before July 20, 2017 to take advantage of the Early Bird Rate of $615. After that date, the cost of registration increases to $665.

We have an all-star line-up of speakers. Our Keynote Speaker, Professor Adrian Sargeant, is one of the world’s leading authorities on how to achieve growth in philanthropy. Pam King Sams, BA, CFRE, MIPP will educate and inspire us with her Plenary Session on the power of philanthropy on the global stage and the elevated role of donor relations and stewardship professionals. Master Classes and Sessions presented by leading experts in our field will provide in-depth discussion opportunities for both seasoned and new-to-the-field professionals.

I have no doubt that the ADRP Conference will deliver BRIGHT LIGHTS and BIG OPPORTUNITIES to attendees
– and we hope that you will be there with us! 

Walk Away a Winner by Attending One of Our Sessions!

We invite you to take a deeper dive into stewardship and donor relations this year in through our master classes and sessions. These interactive sessions will help you put content into action after you leave the bright lights of Las Vegas. Everyone from rookies to veterans will walk away a winner. Choices include:

For those in mid-career range to the advanced…
Effective Change Management

Change management is about transitioning individuals, teams, and organizations by redirecting resources, business processes, and operating models.  In this workshop, you will learn two distinct models of change management that you will then apply to your own real-life management challenge. You will leave with the right change management plan to take back to the office. Led by Nancy McKinney

For the seasoned professional...
Expanding Your Tool Box to Strengthen Your Seat at the Table

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10th Annual Sheryl A. Blair Scholarship Recipients
By Flordelisa Dolan

Last year, I had the opportunity to select the Newcomer and Experienced winners along with the 1157 design concepts Award Winner as a member of the Blair Scholarship selection committee. I and Pam Powell, along with several of last year’s winners serve on this year’s committee such as Annie Madio, Carol Murphrey, Samantha Sanchez, and Meredeth Summers. Their feedback and thoughtful questions have shaped this process and allowed us to select some great winners. I selected quotes from the winners’ applications to showcase them and to share a snapshot of their story.


Mandie Bates, Donor Engagement Officer at the University of Salford in England

"Having the opportunity to attend the ADRP conference would provide not only myself and my institution with leading ideas, scholarship and research, but also allow me with an opportunity to disseminate this information to other donor relations professionals within the UK and Europe."

Kelli Fuhrman, Assistant Director of Donor Relations at the University of North Texas

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In the field of stewardship and donor relations, the stakes become higher each year as we strive to succeed in a changing and ever-expanding world. Register today to soak in the wisdom of our keynote speaker, Dr. Adrian Sargeant.

 Dr. Adrian Sargeant is the world’s foremost fundraising academic, holding a Chair in Fundraising at Plymouth University and directing the Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy.  He is also one of the world’s leading authorities on how to achieve growth in philanthropy. In 2011, he ran Growing Philanthropy summits in Washington, DC and London, drawing together leaders from the nonprofit communities in both countries to discuss the role that the sector itself might play in growing philanthropy. He also helped facilitate a philanthropy summit for the Rockefeller Foundation and the Resource Alliance in Bellagio, Italy, the primary goal of which was to improve the flow of philanthropy in the development system.

In his keynote, Dr. Sargeant will explore with us the results of a major new research project on relationship fundraising and how this knowledge can teach us to build more meaningful relationships with supporters that increase giving and enhance donor experience.

You can also join Dr. Sargeant for a deeper dive into stewardship and donor relations at this year in his master class!

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The Donor Relations Marketplace
It's sure to be a FULL HOUSE in Vegas

There is an impressive array of headliners joining our Donor Relations Marketplace at this year’s conference – including our 2017 Sponsors and Exhibitors. Place your bets on wonderful opportunities to meet and interact with the key vendors who support our industry and help us all to do our very best work in donor relations and stewardship.

ADRP certainly has the house advantage when it comes to the Donor Relations Marketplace…and you will be the beneficiary of that expertise in many areas including: donor recognition solutions, scholarship management, integrated media solutions, special event management, donor-focused consulting, technology and metrics solutions, communications/marketing expertise, specialized campaign management and SO much more.

Many of our past conference attendees and Sponsors/Exhibitors have reported successful collaborations as a direct result of their connections, communication, and collaboration through the Donor Relations Marketplace at the International Conference and the many regional events held each year. Be sure to build the Marketplace into your Conference calendar. This is one gamble that can pay off in spades!

To see a full list of the 2017 Sponsors and Exhibitors, simply visit the sponsor and exhibitor page

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