Posts Tagged ‘conference’

“Have To” vs. “Get To”

May 9, 2013
Nora Gunn, CFRE

Nora Gunn, CFRE

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about perspective and particularly about how optimism is a truly powerful gift, and a positive attitude is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Not easy for a realist.

Bert Jacobs, who spoke at the AFP International Conference on Fundraising last month, taught me an important lesson about promoting the disposition to see opportunity. After years of peddling tee shirts on the streets of Boston, he and his business partner and brother John founded the Life is Good company, building it into a $100-million lifestyle brand based on the idea of giving back.

His philosophy is that in order to be able to turn the fun things you do in your life into your work and have a constructive impact on the world, you must remember two powerful words…GET TO.

We say things like, “I have to go to this meeting.” “I have to take the kids to practice.” “I have to finish this project.” “I have to go to go to the gym.” We act as if we don’t have a choice, but we do. We choose how we view our life and work. Often, it’s those facing the greatest adversities that understand and embrace this the most. It’s not about what we have to do. It’s about what we get to do.

As fundraisers, we get to go to work and work on something that we really care about – something that we can be proud of and that makes a difference. As members of AFP, we get to have access to top-notch education resources, we get to network with our colleagues at monthly membership luncheons, we get to make a contribution back to our profession through the Every Member Campaign and we get to celebrate generosity at National Philanthropy Day and through the Lloyd Horton Lifetime Achievement Award.  

If you don’t love what you’re doing, flip the coin and find a way to infuse positivity into it. Oh, and a sense of humor never hurts.


Nora Gunn, CFRE
President, 2013 AFP Suncoast Chapter
Vice President, St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation & St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital Foundation
Phone: 813 872 0979

Corporate Giving, Scholarships, College…and Lunch!

April 30, 2012

(L-R) Kathryn McManus, Debra Faulk of Wells Fargo Bank, and Marc Brechwald enjoy some conversation.

Debra Kent Faulk from Wells Fargo Bank grabbed the attention of AFP Suncoast members and their guests on April 17, 2012, with stories and insights on what it’s like to be a corporate funder and how to best approach a corporate funder for your organization.


Her passion to make meaningful investments in the community and her pride in the work of Wells Fargo Bank was engaging. She hosted an intimate roundtable discussion after the luncheon.

Scholarship Winner Ruth Bannhard

Ruth Bannhard of the University of South Florida, this year’s scholarship winner, shared some highlights from the AFP International conference in Vancouver, Canada earlier this month.

(L-R) Victor Teschel hosted University of South Florida Collegiate AFP Chapter members, Kelly Torres and Mitzy Gonzalez


There were so many attendees at this month’s luncheon that some people ended up seated on the upper level. Those included Victor Teschel and University of South Florida AFP Collegiate members, Kelly Torres and Mitzy Gonzalez.

Scholarship Awardee meets Bill Clinton!

April 26, 2011

At the April meeting of AFP Suncoast, Julie Wills, Executive Director of the Suncoast Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, described how a scholarship transformed her CFRE continuing education requirements into a fun and rewarding experience. Following is her story:

I was sitting at my desk one day thinking about the fact that I had to renew my CFRE credential in 2011 and would need continuing education in order to meet the requirements of renewal.  That same day, I received my AFP Suncoast Chapter newsletter by email.  As I was reading the newsletter, I saw something about the upcoming International Conference on Fundraising in Chicago.  It also mentioned that our AFP chapter had scholarships available.  I followed the easy link to the scholarship form.  After reviewing the criteria, I determined that I was eligible to apply.  A few short weeks later I received a notification from Debbie Gavalas, our chapter Scholarship Chair, telling me I had gotten a full scholarship.  Eureka!

It had been eleven years since I had last attended an Int’l Conference and so much had changed.  At the Expo I learned about products that I didn’t even know existed.  Some of them are being pilot tested by Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Chapters in other cities.  I’m keeping an eye on these as they may solve some problems we’ve run into locally with our auction events. 

The last time I was at an Int’l Conference there was only one keynote speaker.  Now they have one each day.  I was blown away by Blake Mykoskie of Tom’s Shoes.  I knew about Tom’s Shoes, but didn’t know how interesting his story is or what an animated speaker he would be.  It was fun and inspirational to hear him speak about his experiences launching Tom’s Shoes and giving away shoes to children in third world countries. 

The second day keynote was Queen Latifah.  Another amazing speaker.  In between these amazing speakers, I was attending wonderful continuing education sessions.  Not the same old speakers that used to make the rounds of all these conferences, but new and interesting speakers with current, relevant information to share.

The final keynote was President Bill Clinton.  I was so lucky to have been able to get a second row seat for President Clinton, who is doing amazing philanthropy in Haiti.  It was a dream come true for me to see him speak. 

Overall, the Chicago AFP conference was a wonderful experience and one I would highly recommend for all members of AFP.  Thanks very much to the Suncoast Chapter for providing this scholarship so I could participate in this excellent conference.

Debbi goes Boca!

July 6, 2010

Debbi Ricci, Director of Finance and Operations at Charlotte Community Foundation, was the lucky recipient of a scholarship to Planet Philanthropy 2010 in Boca Raton which was donated by AFP Suncoast president, Melody Marrs. Debbi was kind enough to share her thoughts and thanks, reproduced below.

Dear Melody and Lisa,

What a warm and wonderful experience I had at Planet Philanthropy, the AFP Florida Caucus 2010. Just imagine 400 fellow AFP members, all together to network, learn, and enjoy each other’s company. The venue was the Boca Raton Resort, absolutely elegant, and the June weather was steamy but sunny. After all, we were inside the Mizner Center during the hottest part of the day, and we had access to pools, the beach, and the lush green gardens of the resort after hours.

A member of AFP for two years, I have set my sights on attaining the CFRE certification that AFP has to offer. Lisa Intagliata and her committee did a fabulous job organizing everything. Events and activities ran smoothly. It was a difficult task to choose from the 71 Educational Sessions available, all levels of experience were covered, and the tracks were all-encompassing: Annual Campaigns, Capital Campaigns, Government Relations & Corporate Giving, Planned Giving, Senior Leadership & Management, Technology, Board Development & Volunteerism, Major Gifts, and Private, Family & Community Foundation Giving. We spent two full days in Educational Sessions, and were treated to program speakers and roundtable discussions at every meal. The opening reception combined refreshments, exhibitor booths, and “checking in.” The 30 exhibitor booths were available for three days to browse and many offered door prizes – there was even a casino table and Chinese auction. No wonder it took a committee of 40 people to tie it all together!

Most of the sessions I attended centered on Planned Giving and Major Gifts, a field I plan to move into as I develop my fundraising skills. However, I couldn’t resist some other sessions with names like “Community Sleuthing,” “Fundraising Partnership between Board and Staff,” and “Guerilla Marketing.” Curbside Consulting was also available, but I didn’t want to miss a moment of the educational sessions to explore that one-on-one option. 13 credits toward the CFRE certification were just a portion of the value I gained from this experience.

I would like to extend my most sincere thanks to Melody Marrs, Vice President of Development at the Hillsborough Education Foundation. She won a scholarship to Planet Philanthropy while attending the International AFP Conference in Baltimore last April. She donated the scholarship to our brand new Florida AFP Charlotte Harbor Chapter as a “welcome to the family” gift. How thoughtful and generous. That scholarship allowed me to participate for the entire event, immersing myself in so much encouragement and training in the many fundraising fields that AFP has to offer. I dream that every member of our chapter will attend next year.  What a giant step up that would be for the professional fundraisers in our nonprofit community!

-Deborah M. Ricci
Director of Finance and Operations
Charlotte Community Foundation, Inc.

2010 AFP Int’l Conference – in video

May 1, 2010

Florida members were well represented at the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) conference in Baltimore, Maryland in 2010 -together with 4,000 of our closest colleagues from around the world. And we do it right! There was the beautiful Inner Harbor, time spent with friends and family, sampling the food and drink and learning from and being inspired by the conference presentations. Be sure you don’t miss the AFP conference in Chicago next year!

Suncoast Scholarships Help You- Ask Debbie!

April 5, 2010

Looking to expand your fundraising skill set without putting a strain on your organization’s budget? Check out the AFP Suncoast Chapter’s scholarship offerings and learn how easy it can be to obtain free financial assistance for conferences, seminars and other professional development opportunities. Last year 18 scholarships totaling more than $14,000 were awarded to Suncoast Chapter members.

Debbie Sokolov, Director of Development at FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer, is a first-time Suncoast Chapter scholarship recipient who will be attending the upcoming AFP International Conference in Baltimore. Debbie describes the scholarship application process as painless and simple  “I met most of the scholarship criteria right away – The only thing I had to do was join one of the Chapter’s committees for the coming year.”

Within a few weeks of submitting her application, Debbie received a call from the Chapter scholarship committee letting her know that she had been awarded a $1,000 Chamberlain Scholarship to help cover the cost of her conference registration, travel and hotel. “Without the scholarship, it would have been impossible for me to attend the conference,” Debbie said. “My organization is very grassroots and we have no funds in our budget for professional development.”

Debbie encourages Suncoast Chapter members to investigate AFP’s scholarship offerings when faced with financial limitations or hardship. “Definitely submit an application.  It’s such an incredible opportunity! I’m excited and can’t wait to attend my conference and learn new strategies.”


For more information about the AFP Suncoast Chapter and scholarship offerings, log on to

Written by AFP Suncoast member Todd Marrs.

Debbie Gevalas got a scholarship!

February 10, 2010

Your roving reporter had the opportunity to catch up with Debbie Gevalas, Director of Advancement at the Academy of Holy Names. She was fresh from a conference and excited to share her experience as an AFP Suncoast Chapter scholarship recipient:

Debbie Gevalas

“I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the three-day CASE NAIS conference I attended as a result of receiving a scholarship from our AFP chapter. The conference provided me with greater insights to educational fundraising, current trends in marketing, alumni relations, planned giving and other topics related to independent education, particularly in this shifting economic environment. I remain grateful for the chapter scholarship and the continuing education opportunity that it supported.”

2009 AFP Int’l Conference

April 7, 2009

Your roving reporter was able to catch up with Marion Yongue, Director of Major Gifts and Planned Giving at WEDU, live from the 2009 AFP Int’l conference in New Orleans. We decided to have a little fun and test out some video. Marion sums up the conference in 30 seconds. He’s good, huh?!