President's Perspective Blog

Our In-Person Community Returns

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Last week, one of the most amazing things happened, something that we used to take for granted. Three hundred fundraisers met—in-person!—in Indianapolis, Indiana, for AFP LEAD, our conference focused on all aspects of leadership for the fundraising profession. We had attendees from Canada, Mexico and Russia so it truly was an international conference.

It was an exhilarating feeling to be back in-person, but also a bit strange. A month ago, I was expecting to see roughly 150 people, so I was ecstatic to have double that number. I also felt very good about the various safety rules we had put in place about required vaccinations, masks and social distancing. But what would it be like, meeting again under these circumstances?

In the end, it’s like that old adage about how you never forget how to ride a bike, you just have to hop back on. So, with a little trepidation, we all hopped back on—many thanks to all the attendees who respected and abided by our safeguards—and it was a great experience. The feedback I have received from many attendees has been not only very positive but also incredibly supportive, thanking us for hosting the conference.

I think our chair, Kevin Foyle, said it best when he was trying to figure out exactly which emotions he was feeling: Happiness? Relief? Inspiration? All of the above? Whatever it was, this time it all felt just a little more special to be able to come together.

While it was great to be together, I am cognizant of those who were not able to join us for whatever reason. There is no question that our community did return in-person at AFP LEAD, but we are not fully whole yet. I look forward to our next in-person experience, AFP ICON 2022, May 2 – 4, in Las Vegas, Nevada, hopefully in an environment where everyone feels confident and safe and can travel and participate in the largest gathering of fundraising professionals in the world. Registration opens November 1.

While our in-person community finally returned last week, our virtual community has never left—in fact, it continues to show up. AFP LEAD Virtual will take place Dec. 1 and 2, so if you missed AFP LEAD, this is your chance to get the leadership skills, knowledge and training you need to take your career to the next level. The sessions that took place in Indianapolis—you’ll get to see many of them at AFP LEAD Virtual. Registration for AFP LEAD Virtual is starting this week so look for our official announcement soon!

Community is the strongest part of the AFP experience, and continuing that sense of community throughout the pandemic has been one of my priorities. I’m so excited that we’re able to add in-person events back into the mix with our virtual gatherings. Whatever way you want to interact with the AFP community—virtual or in-person, through AFP Global and/or our amazing chapters—I encourage you to do so. The way we grow, the way we learn—it’s through community.

Whether I get to say hi to you online or shake your hand/elbow bump in person, I look forward to seeing you in the AFP community soon. And as always, if you have any questions about the AFP community, email me at Mike.Geiger@afpglobal.org or on Twitter with @AFPMikeGeiger.

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Mike Geiger, MBA, CPA

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