President's Perspective Blog

Mike’s Monday Message: Seeking Diverse Voices for ICON 2025

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We are now less than two months away from AFP ICON 2024 in Toronto (register by February 29th to get the Leap Rate)! While preparations for this event are in full swing, we also have one eye on 2025 as the call for session proposals for next year’s Seattle event have just opened! 

I admit I’m getting a bit of déjà vu as I write this, because it seems like yesterday, I was asking you to submit your proposals for Toronto, with my flight booked for New Orleans. 

In reality, so much has happened over the course of that year. We received 529 session proposals for AFP ICON 2024, a 60% increase from 2023. A committee of 20 AFP members read, rated, and ranked those proposals, then met for a three-day workshop to select the sessions that would become the program you’re about to attend in just a few weeks. 

Looking at this line-up of education, I want to say thank you! It is thanks to all of you who shared the call for proposals with your networks, who encouraged your colleagues to submit, who took the time to submit yourself, that we have our most diverse line-up of sessions and speakers to date. 

This year, 40% of our speakers are persons of color. 30% are international. We’re covering areas such as AI, donor-advised funds, ethical storytelling, and hundreds of other cutting-edge topics from every niche of our industry. And throughout there remains a focus on how inclusion, diversity, equity, and access impact fundraising techniques. 

We made it a priority that our call for proposals was distributed far and wide, to the entirety of our fundraising community, and I’m ecstatic to say that it worked! 

As we know, however, there is always progress to be made, and it is easy to lose ground that we have gained. I don’t want us to lose momentum. Which is why I think it’s worth dedicating a Mike’s Message again this year to soliciting a diverse slate of proposals for AFP ICON 2025 in Seattle. 

Too often, people with knowledge to share don’t sign up for these opportunities because of imposter syndrome, intimidation, or a perception that their perspective is not valued. 

Well, I can assure you, you have expertise worth sharing, your experiences are relevant, and we welcome you at AFP ICON.  

The deadline to submit your proposal is May 12, 2024, at 11:59 PM (CST).

In the meantime, I recommend using the material that has been provided to help you submit a session proposal that is accepted: 

  • Review the scoring rubric the committee uses to grade proposals. How would your proposed session score in categories like relevance to the profession, interactivity, innovation? 
  • Watch the video of myself and Kendall Joyner, AFP’s vice president, professional development, giving the inside scoop on how sessions are selected. 
  • Download the PDF version of the application early so you know what information you will need to submit, and you’re not scrambling at the last minute.
  • And finally, if you submitted previously but were not selected, review the feedback that was provided to see how you could improve your session for resubmission this year.  

For 2025, we are actively seeking unique perspectives to diversify our content. We strive to have our program accurately represent the wide breadth of identities, experiences, and opinions that exist in our field, and the best way to do that is by getting this call for session proposals in front of a large, diverse audience. 

So please, share this Mike’s Message. Share the call for sessions proposal link: 

Put it out on social media. Email it to your colleagues. And put it on your own to-do list. 

I look forward to seeing the incredible slate of sessions for next year! In the meantime, you can draw some inspiration for your 2025 proposal from the amazing line-up of speakers joining us in Toronto. Use this opportunity to network with them and take notes on what makes a successful presentation. 

We also have our AFP LEAD 2024 request for proposals currently open through March 10, if you have a leadership-focused session idea. 

As always feel free to reach out to me via email at or on Twitter at @AFPMikeGeiger if you have any questions or comments. I’d love to hear from you.

Mike Geiger, MBA, CPA

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