Updated: Oct 27, 2021
Last night, I had an awful nightmare.
I was at the ADRP conference, and for some reason, I learned I wasn’t slated to be a presenter. This realization devastated me. What happened? Did I miss the deadline, neglect to submit something? THIS CAN’T BE HAPPENING TO ME! After a moment of sheer panic, I woke up. A small tear may have been coming out of my eye – probably just dry air from the heater.
Yes, this really happened. This was my nightmare. That’s how much I love presenting at ADRP.
Why do I like to present? Because it’s a blast. It’s energizing. You grow, you learn, you laugh, you cry. You get every bit as much as you give.
Here are a couple of examples. For one of ADRP’s earliest conferences, a content committee member emailed me: “We have a topic that we’d like to cover at the upcoming conference and we think you’d be the PERFECT person to do it. Can we talk next week?” I was giddy. Someone thought I was an expert on something!
Feeling pretty full of myself, I took the call, eager to find out what the topic was. My area of expertise turned out to be “what to do when you make a mistake.” LOL At first I felt like a deflated balloon, but actually, it was one of the most fun presentations I’ve ever put together. If I saved someone from making the same mistakes I did, it was all worth it.
Also, twice I participated in a career development panel with some of my best friends in the universe. We told cautionary tales and our life stories. We gave advice. We bared our souls. And the grateful reactions we received have filled my heart ever since.
That kind of interaction at a session is not surprising. ADRP is a group of the most caring, sharing professionals I’ve ever seen. As donor relations practitioners, we willingly share information, handbooks, samples and opinions without expecting anything in return. That’s just who we are, that’s just what we do.
Yes, putting together a presentation takes time.
It takes energy, research, creativity. And speaking in front of others isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
But knowledge is a gift. Experience is a treasure. Expertise, an invaluable asset. And they are much more fun to share than to keep to yourself.
So don’t be shy! The content committee looks forward to seeing your proposals. Share the love, share the knowledge!
Debbie Meyers has presented at every conference since ADRP became an official organization, and several times before that when it was the New England Stewardship Conference. She has led donor relations programs at the University of Florida Foundation, Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Maryland. She most recently served as assistant vice president of advancement operations for Chautauqua Institution and remains an expert on what to do when you make a mistake.