I admit it.

Fundraising conferences are my jam.  The Bridge Conference for Integrated Fundraising & Marketing is like my superbowl.  It’s loaded with innovative content that spans digital, direct mail, creative, modeling, major gifts, planned giving, boards and more.  There’s something for everyone!  You can’t attend and not be inspired. You also can’t walk through the exhibit hall without tchotchkes for yourself or the kids at home.   

The hardest part of Bridge is picking which session to go to because there are so many great ones!  So, I made you a happy guide.  I combed through the amazing lineup of speakers and their slide handouts to curate a cheat sheet just for you of can’t miss sessions.  Enjoy! 

Don’t forget to come see me in my sessions, “How Would Your Favorite Brands Steward Your Donors” with Kris Leja, CDO of Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco and “Extreme Board Makeover” with Anna Kennedy, Executive Director of Lancaster Osteopathic Health Foundation.  I’d love to hear what sessions you loved most, so please, email me and we’ll be conference buddies.

Not going?  No problem!  Browse through the sessions and get the session handouts. 

Here’s my top picks (sweet sixteen to be exact) of sessions you don’t want to miss!


I’m all about getting teams and departments to bust through silos for the good of the donor and if that’s you jam, this session promises insights, case studies and tips!

Digital-First Strategies in an Ever-Evolving World with Misty McLaughlin, VP, Consulting, Jackson River, Alice Hendricks, Chief Executive Officer, Jackson River and Luke Franklin, VP, Member Communications, ASPCA.  I’m a longtime fan of Misty McLaughlin and this session promises to be a gem!   

Communicators are from Mars, Fundraisers are from Venus: How Branding Can Cross the Organizational Divide

What do you get when you put Mark Rovner, founder of Sea Change Strategies, Kivi Leorux Miller and Kristine Leja, Chief Development Officer, Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco in a room together?  A whole lot of awesome.  This is a can’t miss session full of insights and tips! 

Hey...These Appeals Got Even the Most Seasoned Direct Marketers to React! Plus Handy Tips that Could Help Your Programs

One of my favorite things about going to Bridge is seeing all the eye candy examples of great direct mail and email appeals and this session is sure to be loaded with examples to leave you inspired!

Truth or Consequences - What's New Online That Truly Works

I’m as excited about the content of this session as the fun game show style format Sanky and Covenant House is planning.  This should be as enlightening as it is fast paced and fun!

Telephone Town Halls & Voice Capture: Engaging Supporters & Fundraising with Phones

Emily’s List and Stones’ Phones say “There is A LOT more you can do with phones other than telemarketing.”  Agreed!  They’ll be sharing 5 overlooked ways to dramatically improve donor stewardship and how to capture statements of donor support to increase giving.  I’m in!

Come Back and See Us: Increasing Your Donor Retention with Rachel Clemens, Chief Marketing Officer, TradeMark Media and Erin Samson, VP, Development, Austin Habitat for Humanity.  Fresh content and eye candy examples are my jam and that’s exactly what these ladies are delivering!  Plus, good tips on segmentation. 

The Do's and Don'ts of Effective Email Fundraising

This session with Sage, Save the Children USA and World Wildlife Fund is loaded with tips to get your emails opened, email enhancements, holiday examples, welcome series, thank you series and oodles of examples for ensuring you'll win at email. 

 Changing your Economic Engine Through Improved Donor Experience

This session led by DonorVoice, Project HOPE  and Catholic Relief Services boasts a thoughtful examination of retention and before and after makeovers by each organization to address it and solicit donor feedback.  Can they mail less and raise more?  Join them to find out what worked! 

How Journey Mapping Can Modernize Your Organization's Engagement, Communication and Fundraising with Michael Johnston, President and Founder, HJC.  Heard a lot about donor journey mapping and ready to try it?  Don’t miss this hands-on session where you’ll be led through it!

What can Hollywood teach us about Fundraising?  A lot!  You’ll find out in Lights, Camera, Transaction: What Fundraising Can Learn from Hollywood with Wheeler Mission Ministries and Brewer Direct.  This session promises tips and workshopping.


Pssssst…are you speaking your donor’s love language?  Join Tammy Zonker Chief Philanthropy Officer, The Children's Center to learn The 5 Donor Love Languages.

Hungry for acquisition insights?  Check out The Path to a Successful New Donor Acquisition Control with Sage, Save the Children and EDF. 

Good storytelling is your donor’s love potion!  It’s also the virtual equivalent of taking your donors on a field trip.  I recommend checking out The Rise of the Citizen Storyteller: How to Build an Organizational Culture that Encourages and Engages Your Natural Storytellers. 

Want a better understanding of how to market planned giving and target it to the needs of millennials, generation x, boomers and matures?  Attend Data to Design with YMCA USA.

Finally, the handouts for this session were not live when I write this post but I’m a fan of Danielle Johnson so I’m excited to see her and Stanford Health Foundation in The Alchemy of Golden Ideas: Morphing Dull Facts into a Message with Power to Change.

I hope to see you at Bridge in one of my sessions.  I’d love to hear from you what your favorite sessions were!  If you aren’t going I hope you’ll browse through the session handouts and consider adding this gem of a conference to your professional development budget next year.