Workshop: Improving Annual Fund Appeals

Bryant University in Smithfield, RI — February 6th, 2020 (9am-5pm)


The modern annual giving toolkit is complex, comprised of traditional channels like phone and mail as well as digital channels like email and social media. Integrating these methods in a thoughtful way will not only ensure that your appeals reach your most important audiences, but will also guarantee that your messages resonate. Internally, a cohesive marketing and solicitation plan enables you to use resources more efficiently, helping to keep costs under control.

Join us on Thursday, February 6th at the Bryant University Fisher Student Center in Smithfield, RI for a 1-day intensive workshop that will provide you and your colleagues with insight into best practices for individual marketing channels and a framework for integrating them to achieve optimal results for your annual giving program.

Participants will have an opportunity to:

  • Learn from experts about the latest trends in direct mail, email, calling programs, and digital efforts
  • Participate in focused, small-group strategy sessions
  • Network with peers to share ideas and experiences
  • Obtain workshop handouts and other materials
  • Receive a complimentary copy of Dan Allenby’s book, Ideas for Annual Giving
  • Earn up to 6 points of CFRE credit
  • And more!

This event is ideal for annual giving professionals and other advancement staff, as well as marketing and communications colleagues from outside of advancement who are involved in developing annual fund appeals. Morning refreshments, a networking lunch, and ongoing snacks and beverages will be provided.

  • AGN Members save 20%
  • Receive further discounts when registering multiple attendees from one institution


AGN workshops bring together advancement professionals in a small group setting to learn about important topics and develop new skills. This event includes general sessions as well as interactive breakouts where participants can share challenges, exchange ideas, and discover best practices.

8:00am – Registration Begins / Morning Refreshments

9:00am – Welcome / Workshop Begins

9:30am – Strengthening Direct Mail Appeals

Direct mail is one of the most effective ways for annual giving programs to generate donors and dollars. With communications and media changing dramatically in recent years, it's more important than ever to create personalized segments and messages for direct mail, and to think about integration with other channels. To be successful, annual giving programs must look for ways to develop new strategies and improve results without increasing costs.

10:30am – Maximizing Email Campaigns

Email offers a relatively easy and low-cost way to communicate with and solicit donors, but “one-off” efforts aren’t always enough to capture someone’s attention. Recognizing this, annual giving programs are increasingly structuring email campaigns around a common theme and coordinating their strategy with other channels. These efforts can help boost open and click-through rates and lead to better fundraising results.

11:30am – Rethinking Calling Efforts

Calling programs have changed over the past decade, but one thing has remained true: implementing best practices leads to better phone results. As phonathons continue to be a key driver of annual giving in a rapidly changing and competitive industry, it's essential to use data to develop strategies that generate the highest possible return on investment. Whether you run a large, paid student calling program or a smaller, volunteer-based effort, a solid plan will help ensure that your program is a productive solicitation channel for your annual fund.

12:30pm – Lunch & Keynote: Developing Successful Careers in Annual Giving

1:30pm –  Designing Effective Digital Strategies

Modern annual giving programs don’t limit their donor engagement to direct appeals. Coordinating them with social media outreach is increasingly important to reach donors and communicate the impact of giving. Understanding these opportunities, and incorporating them into your overall marketing strategy, will help to elevate awareness and boost results for all of your fundraising efforts.

2:30pm – Developing Integrated Schedules (Small Group Break-Out)

Coordinating appeals across all channels is key to the success of any annual giving effort. Doing so will ensure the most efficient use of program resources while providing a clear and consistent experience for donors. This small group session will be an opportunity to discuss ways to develop comprehensive appeal plans and schedules for your annual fund and build your roadmap for future integrated marketing success.

3:30pm – Assessing Return on Investment (Small Group Break-Out)

Annual giving teams often find themselves under pressure to measure their productivity and make the case for further investment. Monitoring campaigns, trends, and test results is a critical part of running an effective program. Doing it well can not only inform future strategies, but also help allocate limited resources where they will have the greatest impact. In this small group session, we will examine which key metrics to track and learn how to better measure the return on investment of your marketing efforts.

4:30pm – Bringing It All Together / Workshop Wrap-up


Gina Fiorillo | Rutgers University Foundation

Gina has over 20 years of experience, managing multi-channel fundraising efforts including direct mail, phonathon, and email. She currently serves as the Senior Director of Annual Giving at the Rutgers University Foundation. Her career includes work at Kean University and Douglass College as well as several non-profits including Slow Food USA and the George Street Playhouse. Gina holds a B.A. in English from Rutgers University. Connect with Gina on LinkedIn



Emily Kernan | University of Pennsylvania

Emily Kernan is the Executive Director of The Penn Fund at the University of Pennsylvania, where she oversees all annual giving efforts targeted toward undergraduate alumni. Previously, she led the annual fund team at Rice University and held several positions in development at Lafayette College. Her instructional experience includes presenting for CASE and the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), as well as teaching about annual giving at Rice's Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership​. A member of the Annual Giving Directors Consortium, Emily holds a BA in English from Binghamton University, while currently working toward an MS in Non-Profit Leadership at Penn's School of Policy and Practice. Connect with Emily on LinkedIn



Mary Risner | Brown University

Mary Risner is the Executive Director of Annual Giving at Brown University where she is responsible for planning, directing, and implementing all aspects of unrestricted fundraising efforts. She provides strategic direction to Brown’s personalized and broad-based solicitation programs, and is at the forefront of reimagining the overall Brown Annual Fund to be even more inclusive of strategic priorities. Her 18-year career in annual giving also includes leadership roles at the University of Pennsylvania and Franklin & Marshall College. She holds a B.S. in Business Economics from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and is completing her MS in Organizational Dynamics from the University of Pennsylvania. Connect with Mary on LinkedIn



Dan Allenby | Principal & Founder

Dan is an author, speaker, and consultant who has worked with academic institutions for over two decades to train their advancement staff and volunteers. A recipient of the prestigious CASE “Crystal Apple” award for teaching excellence, Dan is an internationally-recognized expert on annual giving and alumni engagement. He chaired CASE’s Institute for Senior Annual Giving Professionals and its Annual Giving Workshop for five collective terms and served on the faculty for CASE’s Summer Institute in Educational Fundraising. His book - Ideas for Annual Giving - offers the latest designs for helping institutions increase annual giving and boost alumni participation. Previously, he served as the assistant vice president for annual giving at Boston University, and also led annual giving and member marketing efforts at Tufts University, Georgetown University, and the National Geographic Society. Dan received an MBA from Boston College and a BA from James Madison University, and a certificate in the Management of Communication Organizations from Tufts University. Connect with Dan on LinkedIn



For more information about this workshop, please contact us at 888.407.5064 or [email protected].