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Apra Talks

The Context of Change: Perspectives on Philanthropy

Thursday, July 28 I 9:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. EDT

Apra Talks has been one of the most versatile sessions at the conference. Over the years it has been delivered as TED-style talks, friendly debates, and short presentations on important and timely topics. No matter the format, Apra Talks has always been about connecting with and learning from perspectives within our prospect development community.

This year, we’re building connections to changemakers from the broader philanthropic community and highlighting the work of organizations in our host city of Atlanta!

Our work in prospect development occurs within larger social and organizational paradigms—and we’ve experienced fundamental shifts over the past two years. Our speakers this year will share their insights into how they, and their organizations, are thinking and working differently as a result. We hope this session will spark questions, conversations and ideas that can be shared at the conference and beyond.


The Bold, Brave Nonprofit Organization: Community Leadership and Community-Centered Engagement

Change is often the result of strategic leadership, collective action, and determination. Exploring how we, and our organizations, show up as leaders, this talk will focus on lessons learned from research focused on community leadership, organizational change, and philanthropy. When done correctly, being a bold and engaged community leader can positively affect fundraising, public perception, and organizational culture.

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Presented by: Colton Strawser
President, Colton Strawser Consulting
Executive Director, Community Leadership Engagement, and Research (CLEAR) Institute

Price's Law and More: Using Culture & Competency to Improve

It’s become quite common to talk about Major Gifts framed as an example of the Pareto Principle - 80% of our dollars (often much more) will come from 20% of our donors (again often much fewer). It is rarer for organizations to examine their performance through an internal lens. Less widely known, Price’s Law states that 50% of the work is done by the square root of the number of people doing the work; so if you have nine fundraisers, 50% of the dollars raised by that group will come from the top three performers each year. Organizational data has supported this, but it’s rarely the same group of individuals each year. Our work is cyclical and it’s clear that successful fundraisers are not equally successful every fiscal year. However, we continue to evaluate and emphasize a culture that focuses on quantitative results in a finite period and less so on the competencies it takes to be effective in the role. Financial metrics will always have their place in our work, but it should be balanced with a focus on competency and alignment with organizational values.

Organizations often talk about wanting to have a strong culture focused on being high performing and donor centric, without truly considering how culture is created and what alignment is crafted between espoused organizational values and demonstrated incentive structures like metrics. This talk will explore current challenges and opportunities with how Advancement organizations use metrics to create value supported through psychological and organizational theory.

Jay Kahn

Presented by: Jay Kahn
Vice President for Advancement and President of the Georgia State University Foundation
Georgia State University

Resilience in an Ever-Changing World: Utilizing Old and New Fundraising Strategies

The pandemic has forever changed our world and the way we conduct business and raise funds. Working through barriers, nonprofits are still held to the same standards of mission impact and metrics of success required by their funders and stakeholders. Atlanta Habitat for Humanity, the seventh largest affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, has excelled in impact and fundraising during this difficult time through strong leadership, capacity growth, funding strategies, and finding new and innovative ways to run the organization. This session will share some of the approaches, successes, and personal reflections from Atlanta Habitat’s experiences.

Peggy Still Johnson

Presented by: Peggy Still Johnson
Giving and Grants Director
Atlanta Habitat For Humanity