My Outlook calendar is set to out-of-office purple, my winter boots are packed, and the conference app is downloaded. Watch out world, the fundraisers are taking over Beantown!

If you are half as excited for the AFP International Fundraising Conference as I am, you probably look like you just drank a gallon of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. It will be three jam-packed days of awesome. But, with some much awesomeness, how do you zero in on the best stuff to do? Look no further than this list: The 10 must-see, gotta-do items for the AFP Conference.

  1. Orientation for First Timers: If you are like me, this is your first AFP Conference (exciting!). Learn the ropes in this orientation, Sunday, bright and early at 7:45 a.m.
  2. Keynotes: I’m cheating here and making the two keynotes one line-item. Be sure your calendar is clear for Kofi Annan on Sunday at 4 p.m. and for Kumi Naidoo on Monday at 1:45 p.m.
  3. “Lean in” to Fundraising! Women, Leadership, and Fundraising Career Advancement: Start your morning with a little Girl Power in this session. Sunday at 10:15 a.m.
  4. The Collaborative Nonprofit: Building Better Relationships Between Fundraising and Finance: My colleagues Erika McNichol and  Rich Dietz will share Abila’s new research on fundraising and finance professionals working together to create more successful nonprofits. Sunday at 2 p.m.
  5. Take Me Out to the Ballpark: Hosted by the local chapter, this is a party at Fenway! You don’t get a better venue than that. Tickets are $65. Sunday at 7 p.m.
  6. The Seven Secrets of Successful Solicitations: Fingers crossed for a magic bullet from across the river at Harvard University. Monday at 8 a.m.
  7. Digging Deeper Into Donor Behavior and Preferences: 2016 Donor Engagement Study: Get a first look at new donor research. My colleagues Rich Dietz and Tad Druart will share findings from our study set to be released in April. Monday at 10:45 a.m.
  8. New Heights Happy Hour: Take your fundraising to new heights as Abila’s guest at the Harborside Legal Sea Foods. Delicious food, cocktails, and harbor views! RSVP now for the party. Monday at 6 p.m.
  9. AFP After Dark Party: For every time you’ve heard “all fundraisers do is go to cocktail parties,” now is the time to put some substance to that accusation. Monday at 9 p.m.
  10. Exhibit Hall: Fundraising expertise, product demos, and cool swag abound … including Southwest Airlines’ gift cards, iPads, and Kendra Scott earrings at Abila Booth #917.


Are you arriving early or staying late? Or are you totally okay giving up sleep to see one of our nation’s most incredible cities? As a former Bostonian (who is still mildly obsessed), here are five attractions I enthusiastically recommend:

  1. Faneuil Hall/Freedom Trail: Faneuil Hall is waterfront dining and shopping and is bordered by a nice bit of the Freedom Trail.
  2. Boston Public Library: Ceiling murals! Marble staircases! Courtyard garden! This is one seriously gorgeous public library.
  3. North End: Boston’s Italian neighborhood where every single restaurant is a win. For dessert, hit up Mike’s Pastry Shop.
  4. Lobster, lobster, and more lobster: March isn’t really lobster season but for most of us, any lobster in Boston is better than we’ll get at home. Just steamed with “buttah.” Yum.
  5. Boston Public Garden & Common: Bundle up for a downtown stroll in the park and “make way” for Mrs. Mallard and her ducklings.