Advancement Events Strategy

Advancement Events Strategy

March 8 - 9, 2018
Chicago, IL

Learn how to strategically increase engagement and giving with your advancement events.

Creative events can provide a high return on investment and increase engagement for your alumni and donors. But, poorly executed—lacking strategy or performed solely out of tradition—events can simply be a drain on resources.

Join us to develop a cohesive strategy for your alumni and donor events, including a framework for vetting future events, performing proper follow-up with attendees, and ensuring that one of your largest budget items is working towards your goals. We will cover ideas and best practices for large-scale events such as galas, homecomings, and reunions, as well as smaller ones like salon events and career-oriented alumni programming.

Note: This conference will not cover event planning basics, but is instead focused on higher-level strategy.

Leave with an Action Plan

After walking through critical development and execution strategy, you will have working time to tackle one of your own events. You will leave this working session with an action plan for improving this event and have the opportunity to receive feedback from our experts and your peers.

Who Should Attend

Advancement, alumni relations, and institution-wide professionals who produce or help develop events for alumni relations and/or advancement shops will benefit fromerence.


Conference Registration and Breakfast (included in registration fee)
8:30 - 9:00 a.m.

Conference Opening and Introductions
9:00 - 9:30 a.m.

The Current State of Advancement and Alumni Events
9:30 - 10:30 a.m.
This opening session will take a careful look at the current state of events in advancement and alumni relations. What is working well in the industry? What needs to change? We will examine how this conference will help you evaluate your current events and programming to understand how to adjust course as needed.

10:30 - 10:45 a.m.

Developing Event Purpose and Strategy
10:45 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
While understanding each event's purpose and developing a strategy to execute that purpose may seem straightforward, your institution likely has events that are hosted annually without taking a step back to understand how these events fit into your shop’s overall goals. This session will introduce a framework that you will able to apply to each of your events to ensure they are leading you down a productive path.

Lunch (included in the registration fee)
12:15 - 1:15 p.m.

Event Follow-Up and Metrics
1:15 - 2:30 p.m.
How you follow-up with attendees after events can largely determine how productive an event was. What does this type of intentional follow-up look like? In addition, how do you know if an event was productive and successful? In this session, we will walk you through developing metrics to successfully debrief each event, as well as how to do so annually in a comprehensive way.

Strategizing for Large Donor and Fundraising Events
2:30 - 3:30 p.m.
This session will talk through pre- and post-event work for cultivation and solicitation, and partnerships with gift officers and donor relations officers for your larger, and smaller, signature donor events.

Afternoon Break
3:30 - 3:45 p.m.

The Heart of the Matter: Storytelling and Live Events
3:45 - 4:30 p.m.
This session will explore the fundamentals of good storytelling, including understanding your audience and your institution’s message, and how to identify the “characters” of your story. It will also explore the various modes of storytelling that work best during live events, with a special emphasis on advancement-focused events in higher education.

Networking Reception (included in registration fee)
4:30 - 5:30 p.m.

Breakfast (included in the registration fee)
8:30 - 9:00 a.m.

Engaging Alumni Events and Programming
9:00 - 10:15 a.m.
Now that we have a better understanding of how to assess current events and programming, the next few sessions will dive into examples and best practices. This session will include ongoing alumni programming, including alumni career programs, translating campus traditions to off-campus environments, homecoming, reunion, awards, etc.

Morning Break
10:15 - 10:30

Developing Your Event Strategy and Action Plan
10:30 - 11:45 a.m.
With a sense of which events you would like to tackle once back on campus, this working session will help you translate the event framework for one of your upcoming events, noting action steps for developing partnerships and transforming lackluster events. You will have the opportunity to work with faculty, present on your plans, and receive feedback from your peers.

Final Conference Q&A and Evaluation
11:45 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.

March 8 - 9, 2018
Chicago, IL


Wyndham Grand Chicago Riverfront Hotel
71 E Upper Wacker Dr.
Chicago, IL 60601

Room Rate: $149 + tax
Room Block Dates: The nights of March 7 and 8, 2018 .
Rate available until February 16, 2018.

Please book early - rooms are limited and subject to availability.


Reserve Your Room: Click the button below or call 312-346-7100. Please indicate that you are with the Academic Impressions group to receive the group rate.



Matthew Helmer

Executive Director of CSU Events & Community Engagement
Colorado State University

Matthew has more than 20 years of experience in event production, fundraising, constituent engagement, and the donor experience. As Executive Director of CSU Events and Community Engagement, Matthew provides creative and strategic leadership for a talented team of event, communications, and donor relations professionals who manage more than 300 engagement opportunities annually. Additionally, he is directly responsible for Presidential events and constituent engagement strategy for the CSU System.

In 2010, Matthew led an innovative reorganization at CSU, consolidating responsibility for alumni, donor, and university events. This organizational shift opened the door for a candid conversation about the power of purposeful events, leading to a more strategic approach to engagement and significantly contributing to more than five consecutive years of record-breaking fundraising results.

Matthew was a founding member of the Donor Relations Guru Group, a consulting collaborative spearheaded by internationally known author, speaker and consultant, Lynne Wester.

Jennifer Richwine, the director of the Wake Washington Center, poses outside the Capitol in Washington, DC on Thursday, September 28, 2017.

Jennifer Richwine

Executive Director of the Washington, D.C. Office
Wake Forest University

In her current role, Jennifer partners with various areas of campus, from Advancement to academic departments, to develop programs for alumni, parent, friend, faculty, and student constituencies in the D.C. metro area, building a bridge from campus to one of the University's key cities. She leads the development of a study/intership program for undergraduates, opening in Fall 2017.

She was previously vice president of university events, where she was responsible for the strategy, production, and execution of events. Her experience covers a wide range of events, from intimate donor dinners at the president's house, to large-scale events including inaugurations and national presidential debates. She partnered with development, stewardship, and donor relations, and principal gifts staff to customize events and visits to campus, creating an experience designed to more meaningfully engage constituents. Jennifer's passion for expressions of gratitude in any workplace environment led her to author a book entitled, With Gratitude - The Power of a Thank You Note.


Mark Terranova

Senior Vice President, Client Engagement
August Jackson

With more than 15 years of experience in program development and institutional advancement for higher education institutions and nonprofit organizations, Mark leads August Jackson’s higher-education client engagement team. He works closely with clients to discover and share their core character and values in their own voices, and develops strong relationships to help them maintain a successful and sustaining program. His client work includes projects for MIT, Duke, William & Mary, Carnegie Mellon, and Wake Forest, and a number of nonprofit clients, including the Smithsonian Institution. Prior to joining the AJ team, Mark held leadership positions in development, foundation relations, capital campaigns, and professional development in educational and nonprofit organizations. He currently serves on the board of the Children’s Scholarship Fund Baltimore.


Josh Johns

Executive Vice President, Strategy
August Jackson

As August Jackson’s senior creative officer, Josh leads a team of talented and experienced professionals who understand the power of messages and how best to communicate them to audiences. He brings his years of experience as a filmmaker and storyteller to each project. He has served as the steward of Duke University’s campaign narrative, conceived the branding for New York University’s presidential inauguration, and was the architect of the centerpiece film for Harvard Business School’s campaign launch, which is the signature piece in the school’s regional programs around the world. For Josh, success is defined by an experience that captivates an audience, aligns with the client’s goals, and integrates into the overall communications strategy. Prior to joining August Jackson, he shaped online marketing and advertising for MSN at Microsoft, and developed integrated advertising and website experience campaigns for brands including Kellogg’s, the Mayo Clinic, and Nissan.

Can't Attend? Buy the
Conference Binder

Purchase the conference binder, which includes all presentation slides, worksheets, action plans, and additional resources.

Note: Conference attendees do not need to purchase materials separately.

Questions About the Event?

Gwen Doyle Herbert
Program Manager, Academic Impressions

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