"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 isbreaking 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 toread 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 threebig onesyou can expect from attending the conference:

  • Big schedule – The conference schedule, in Vegas terms, is truly a ‘Royal Flush’! Content has been divided into eight distinct tracks: acknowledgement, donor engagement, events, gift acceptance/management, leadership management, professional development, recognition, and reporting. Beginning on the evening of Monday September 25th we will welcome newcomers at a special networking reception with industry leaders. Tuesday will bring the inaugural ADRP International Stewardship Awards presentation (ADRP ISA's) which has been established as the premier awards program, recognizing excellence and outstanding accomplishments in donor relations. That evening, we will all enjoy a ‘Vegas style’ networking reception prior to dine-arounds. Renowned Dr. Adrian Sergeant will deliver our keynote on Wednesday and Pam King Sams will be our plenary speaker on Wednesday afternoon. Between these highlights, attendees will learn, share, and network at sessions and master classes. To see the 2017 International Conference schedule and learn about the keynote and plenary speakers, visit our website.
  • Big networking – First-time attendees will be given special attention and seasoned professionals will have the opportunity to network with newcomers and familiar colleagues. A special twist has been given to identifying the networking topics that interest attendees. Iconic Vegas ‘swag’ will indicate what topics you are interested in networking around. We are going to have a lot of fun with long-time friends and new faces.
  • BIG winnings – Everyone from rookies to veterans will walk away a big winner.The robust professional academic content and the networking opportunities will serve attendees long after you leave the bright lights of Las Vegas. Make sure your cameras are charged –the ADRP 14th Annual International Conference will be an amazing time for selfies, snapshots with colleagues, and keepsakes of the one and only Las Vegas!

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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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Two weeks ago, many of us left the comfort and routine of our daily lives to trek to Pittsburgh and forge the future of donor relations at the ADRP 2016 International Conference.

The City of Bridges didn’t disappoint. From the Welcome Reception on Tuesday night to the last session on Friday afternoon, those three days were jam-packed with learning, professional growth, networking, and perhaps most importantly, fun.

On Wednesday morning, Amy Herman spoke to a packed house about the art of perception, “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.” This was a recurring theme that weaved throughout many of the sessions, to be good at what we do, to be effective communicators, collaborators, and storytellers, we need to take a step back and re-evaluate what we do, how we do it, and why.

The highlights of the conference were many, including: 

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For ADRP’s 13th Annual International Conference, the conference committee wanted to deliver an intuitive and interactive platform that would provide attendees with easy access to conference information as well as a way to interact with other attendees. This year’s mobile app sponsor, Guidebook, has allowed us to do just that!

To access the ADRP app:

  • Go into your app store and search for “Guidebook.”
  • Once you download the Guidebook app, open it
  • In the search bar that reads “Find a guide…” below the header, search for “ADRP 2016: Forging the Future.”
  • After downloading ADRP’s conference guide, you’ll have all of ADRP’s conference information at your fingertips.
  • Simply tap on the menu in the top right corner to navigate.

The schedule module contains all of the sessions for the conference sorted by date and start time. Tap on any session to get more information or add the session to your personalized schedule.

Adding a session to your personalized schedule gives you the option to set a reminder before a session begins. When you click into a session, you’ll be able to view session and speaker details, provide session feedback, discuss the session in real-time, download the session presentation, and see the location for the session. When viewing session details, you’ll also see the option to open a blank page for taking notes on that specific session.

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The Sheryl A. Blair Scholarship committee selects ten recipients annually that embody passion for our profession.  In carefully reviewing each application, we consider the impact this conference will have not only on that individual, but also their ability to transform the work of others. Here are two stories of success from past Blair Scholarship recipients.

I was so fortunate to receive the Sheryl A. Blair Scholarship in 2013, as it enabled me to attend the International Conference for the very first time. It was, quite simply, an eye opening experience. The breadth of material that is covered, the quality of the speakers, and the ability to make connections with others working in the field cannot be matched. For me, it was not only educational, but also inspiring. I felt empowered professionally, and was motivated to become more involved with ADRP so that I can help make such a rewarding opportunity possible for others as well.

Jacqueline D’Ercole, Ursinus College

When attending ADRP conferences, I always set a goal of bringing back at least one “golden nugget” that can be implemented immediately, and often there is more than one. I keep a binder of information and tips from the conferences and I refer to it often. My favorite conference experiences involve the informal learning—at the affinity tables at meals, in the Café Connections room, during networking breaks. The greatest impact on my work has been the number of people who have become good friends, to whom I can turn when I need information, a kick in the pants, or a shoulder to cry on.

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When setting out to design and create this conference for you, our attendees, the planning committee spent a great deal of time designing an immersive three-day donor relations experience for you – all the way down to the industry partners we sought to join us in Pittsburgh. We know everyone has different needs, different size budgets, and varying number of people in your shop in order to get it all done.

What has resulted is a dynamic, diverse and comprehensive Marketplace where we can all connect to industry experts, gather samples and ideas, and even brainstorm the solutions we might need to accomplish our organizational goals.

We are so proud to present our incredible 2016 sponsors and exhibitors to you. This year, as you wander the Marketplace with breakfast or a cocktail in hand, you will find video production services, e-gratitude solutions, beautiful permanent recognition solutions, unique donor gifts, data and metrics solutions, special event partners, and on and on.

So, do yourself a favor this year and truly immerse yourself in the Marketplace and open yourself to connections with our corporate partners – you won’t want to miss what they have to offer. To see a complete list of partners, please visit

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Next year, the movie Moonstruck will turn 30 years old. Like any classic film, it has stood the test of time. Everyone remembers the scene where Cher slaps Nicolas Cage after his declaration of love and tells him to “Snap out of it!”

Every once in a while we need someone to tell us to snap out it.

If you join me in my session, I promise not to slap you, but I will help you snap out of a dangerous practice in donor relations: our regular, routine way of thinking and doing things. We’re going to learn how to snap out of formulaic donor communications that talk more about our organizations than our donors. We’re going to learn how to write sincerely and genuinely.

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Hello Fellow ADRP members,

I’m so excited to see you all in my hometown of Pittsburgh this fall. If you haven’t been to the ‘Burgh before, I thought I would highlight a few things for you to consider while you are here for the ADRP International Conference, as we have a lot to offer you during your stay.

Pittsburgh has been on the rise for quite some time now and you’re coming to a city that has been on many ‘best of' lists. So if you are a foodie, enjoy a good live sporting event, the arts, or like a nice bike ride to take in the scenery – you are in luck!

While Pittsburgh is quite vast, everything you need can be found within steps of the conference downtown. We have great restaurants, bike rentals, trails, shops, theatres, parks and more. I have the great fortune to work downtown and thought I’d give you a quick tour!

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The “hero” label tends to get used a bit too casually. But when CNN names you as one of its Top Ten Heroes of 2015, as they’ve done with Pittsburgh’s Dr. Jim Withers, people around the world take notice.

For 23 years, Dr. Withers has been making house calls to the homeless. As founder and medical director of Operation Safety Net, part of Pittsburgh Mercy Health System and Trinity Health, he and his staff and volunteers bring healthcare to the homeless where they live—under bridges and overpasses, in alleys, and along the rivers. It’s “street medicine,” a term he coined which is now universally used, including for the Street Medicine Institute, an international group he helped found. He's going to help us understand the core needs of a nonprofit through his eyes and help us embrace the good work he does with the citizens of Pittsburgh. Prepare to be inspired.

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Some of you might be thinking, “Pittsburgh? Really?!” I know I did at first. But the truth is, you will be pleasantly surprised by all the Steel City has to offer during ADRP’s 2016 International Conference!

This September, donor relations and stewardship professionals from near and far will once again convene to celebrate our work, share best practices, learn from each other and grow within our amazing profession. The 2016 planning committee listened to your needs and created a conference that will be one of a kind… and one you won’t want to miss. With three fascinating keynotes, an incredible line-up of 40 educational sessions, a plethora of networking opportunities, and some seriously good fun – Pittsburgh will be rockin’ this year!

In the coming months, we will use this blog to share exciting conference announcements, explore our host city, discover our speakers and keynotes, and help you get prepared to fully maximize the 2016 conference. So put in your budget requests, book your hotel, and stay tuned... we are getting ready to FORGE THE FUTURE!

— Sarah Sims, 2016 International Conference Chair