Hong Chhuor, CFRE, Member, AFP Advancement Northwest Board of Directors

Why present at the Advancement Northwest Conference?

Dear Colleagues,

Hard to believe it’s already March 2022. I’m still making sense of results from last year’s activities, figuring out how to use this year’s budget wisely, and oh, navigating an ongoing pandemic. I imagine many of you are at a similar spot. Even so, I’d like to remind you that the deadline for submitting a proposal to present at this year’s Advancement Northwest Conference is coming up on March 8, 2022. I encourage you to put your name in the hat.

The Conference has been a key part of my growth personally and professionally. From what I’ve heard, the same is true for many of you. How many people “stumble” into fundraising and subsequently “fall out” because they never knew that there was an entire network of people to support them, help them grow, and compare gala battle scars with?

As professionals who are engaged in changing the hearts and minds of others, we identify and overcome objections of would-be supporters so it’s easy for them to say YES. I’ll start with some objections that I have had to work through (a few times) before saying “YES, I will present.”

CONS: that tiny voice in our heads—who am I to stand at the front and talk like I know stuff? Or, I’m great at one-on-one conversations, individuals relationships, data analysis, written word, or multimedia campaigns…but, public speaking (whaaaat)? And finally, it’s so much work—do I have time?

You don’t have to have a PhD or 30 years of experience in the topic you’re presenting about. It is possible that someone else in the room may have more experience, but more likely that most will learn something from you.

The unique way that you deliver an idea may help someone see things in a way they hadn’t before. Last year, we heard from Maya Hemachandra, Tina Kuckkahn, Janeka Rector, Chris Rhodes and Javier Womeldorff about their experiences as fundraisers of color. They made me feel less alone in my own journey. Elizabeth Ralston and Troy Coalman opened my eyes to building accessibility into our work (and lives). As an able-bodied person, I learned how much potential was out there to create experiences that others could fully participate in.

It’s often said that fundraising is a team sport (hopefully even if you’re a one-person shop). The sessions I’ve mentioned above were panel presentations—you don’t have to go it alone, especially if you think your topic could benefit from multiple and diverse perspectives. I’ve presented a few times now and each of them involved supportive partnerships with brilliant colleagues. Reach out to a friend and cook up some mischief.

PROS: Yes, there was work and prep time we all had to put in, along with anxious phone calls that felt like therapy sessions. The benefits are what I feel most tangibly now. I came out of each experience better able to articulate my thoughts and beliefs about the topic we presented on. Each of my partners introduced me to new ways of thinking and talking about something related to our work. If you’re a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) or working to become one, you get *extra credit* for being a presenter.

The wealth of knowledge, experience, and passion of the people I’ve met through Advancement Northwest is inspiring and infectious (ok, maybe a bad choice of words), and we all benefit from those who so generously share their time and energy each year as presenters at the Conference.

So please, be sure to submit your proposal by March 8!

Hong Chhuor, CFRE, is Director of Communication at Plymouth Housing. Plymouth Housing works to eliminate homelessness and address its causes by preserving, developing and operating safe, quality, supportive housing and by providing adults experiencing homelessness with opportunities to stabilize and improve their lives.