Increase Giving through Inspiring Annual Giving Communications

Increase Giving through Inspiring Annual Giving Communications

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Learn how to integrate your institutional story to engage and inspire your alumni and donors.


Effective messaging that both inspires your alumni to give while also communicating the impact of their gift is fundamental to annual giving success. Over the past year, annual giving communications have had to acknowledge larger societal issues affecting your alumni and your institution. Doing so while telling your institution’s story has proven to be a tricky combination for many shops.

Join us in this interactive virtual conference where you will have the opportunity to workshop your communications and receive feedback from the instructors and peers. You'll walk away with strategies for not only how to craft a story that is compelling to your audience, but with best practices for how to share that story across different segments and platforms so that it reaches the right donors at the right time.


Who Should Attend

Those working in annual giving, as well as advancement communications professionals, who are looking to combine empathetic messaging with compelling storytelling will benefit from this event.

The Academic Impressions Online Learning Experience

Intentionally Designed
Online Learning

Our virtual trainings go far beyond just replicating PowerPoint presentations online: these experiences are intentionally designed to give you the kind of robust and dynamic learning experience you’ve come to expect from Academic Impressions. These trainings provide you with an active learning environment and an online space where you can explore ideas, get inspired by what your peers are doing, and understand the range of possibilities around a certain topic. You will leave these sessions with practical solutions that you can take back to your team or task force.

What you will get:

  • A dynamic, interactive, and high-touch virtual learning experience designed to engage and set you up for growth
  • Seamless online face-time, networking, group work, and Q&A opportunities from the comfort of your own workspace
  • Practical takeaways and hands-on knowledge
  • Guidance from vetted subject matter experts
  • Unlimited access to all recorded online sessions

See What Our Attendees are Saying

“The virtual design of this conference coupled with the amazing work of our program manager promoted a high level of engagement and sense of community among attendees. The speakers were knowledgeable and enthusiastic to share their experiences. It was a refreshing shift from long days of traditional meetings on Zoom!”

“This is the first time I’ve ever attended a virtual conference, and to be honest, I had low expectations. Well, I was wrong. I am very impressed with the platform used and the quality of the content shared. Oftentimes, these conferences only talk about ideas and what could work, but at this event, actual pathways and practical next steps were shared. Academic Impressions did a great job featuring quality speakers who were willing to share what they know.”

“Although the workshop was online, it felt as if the presenters were right there with us. All presenters were knowledgeable and really related the content to real work experiences. They were so willing to answer questions and offer assistance—I learned so much that I can apply.”

“Many conferences leave you with learning but not always sure how to turn that into action for your organization. There were actionable tips shared throughout the two days and tools provided to help move the learning into action. I am always impressed with Academic Impressions conferences and this virtual one did not disappoint.”

"At first, I was skeptical that a virtual conference was capable of being both engaging and informational - but Academic Impressions has mastered it! The 3-day online event was structured in a creative way that all participants had multiple opportunities to interact with each other and the presenters. No one's questions went unheard or unanswered. Thank you for this great experience, it has changed my view of virtual conferences and I look forward to attending more in the future."

- Desiree Ford, Digital Communications Manager, Binghamton University

“The virtual conference has been amazing. The presenters have all been great and the information they’ve provided is going to help us better use our social media. Even though this conference had to be virtualized due to COVID-19, the online format has been set up in a way that we can all collaborate and share ideas. I’m very eager to take what I’ve learned back to campus and start implementing new ideas.”

- Chris Forde, Coordinator of Marketing & Public Information, Lincoln Trail College


Day One

All times eastern


Welcome and Introductions
11:00 – 11:30 a.m.



Identifying Your Story
11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
Knowing which stories resonate with your alumni will enable you to be grounded in a strong premise that can be built upon and expanded out, depending on the audience and the channel you choose to focus on. By identifying the right message to focus on for your next engagement effort, you will be able to begin developing your communications plan.



12:15 – 12:30 p.m.



Integrating Story into Your Strategy
12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
Learn what it means to integrate an impactful story into your annual giving strategy and how visuals can effectively communicate your story to the right audience.



Long Break
1:30 – 2:00 p.m.



Crafting and Delivering Empathetic Messaging
2:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Once you know your story, you must communicate it empathetically to avoid sounding tone deaf given any current events. This is essential to preserve relationships with alumni, while also establishing new donor relationships by connecting with them more sincerely. Here you will learn how to capture, and hold, the attention of your alumni within the first sentences of your communication in order to effectively deliver your message.



3:00 – 3:15 p.m.



Sharing Your Communications
3:15 – 3:45 p.m.
In this activity, you will connect with fellow attendees to share the challenges and successes you’ve had over the past year. Please bring samples of what’s worked and what hasn’t.



Storyboarding Your Next Communication
3:45 – 5:00 p.m.
Designing a storyboard by drawing out its purpose and defining the structure of the story to incorporate into your annual giving strategy, whether it’s for a one-off email or for a more comprehensive messaging campaign, is the focus of this session. After a discussion on how to apply this approach to your upcoming communications, you will have individual working time to develop a storyboard.


Day Two

All times eastern


Platforms Discussion
11:00 – 11:45 a.m.
With the ever-proliferating number of options that allow you to manage your annual giving communications, understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the platforms may help you decide where to invest in the right software for your shop. We will have a discussion that covers the variety of annual giving management tools that are available to you.



11:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.



Crowdfunding and Micro-Campaigns
12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
As institutions shift to more short-term fundraising campaigns as part of their larger annual giving strategy, ensuring that your messaging within these campaigns is on target is essential to success. In this session, we will cover key principles from examples that show how you can apply an effective communication strategy to crowdfunding and micro-campaigns.



Long Break
1:00 – 1:30 p.m.



Segmenting Your Communications
1:30 – 2:15 p.m.
The right segmentation will help you maximize your outreach by tailoring your messaging, ask amounts, and communication strategy. This is a key component in understanding what type of alumni have been most affected by a recent societal event.



2:15 – 2:30 p.m.



Scheduling Your Communications
2:30 – 3:00 p.m.
Now that you know how to develop the storyline behind your empathetic communication strategy, we will discuss how the duration of annual giving campaigns have shifted over the previous year and what this looks like for your shop as you optimize the schedule for your next campaign.



Revisiting Your Storyboard and Final Q&A
3:00 – 3:30 p.m.
In our last session, you will review your storyboard from day one with the context of segmenting and scheduling. You will reflect on how your message might change based on the audience you’re segmenting and/or the length of the campaign.


Portrait of Nkiruka McGinnis

Nkiruka McGinnis, Ph.D.

Director of the Annual Campaign, Towson University

Nkiruka is a dedicated fundraising professional with extensive experience in individual giving, donor and volunteer engagement, and staff management. She is interested in making a community-relevant impact through non-profit and education-related organizations. Her career in annual giving spans over 15 years beginning as a student caller at the University of Pittsburgh to her current position at TU.

Read Speaker's Full Bio.


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Questions About the Event?

Portrait of Nick Pettet

Nick Pettet
Program Manager, Academic Impressions

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