Gonser Gerber Annual Conference

Date: August 3, 2017 · Time: August 3 and 4, 2017

Authentic Engagement – The Key to Advancing Your Institution

Join us on August 3 and 4, 2017 for our next Gonser Gerber Annual Conference where we will address the theme of Authentic Engagement. The program is scheduled from 7:30 am on Thursday, August 3rd, through 12:30 pm on Friday, August 4th, 2017. It will take place at The Westin Lombard Yorktown Center in Lombard, Illinois.

Authentic Engagement has been a cornerstone of Gonser Gerber’s consulting practice since it was established in 1950. Authentically engaging with constituents leads to deeper understanding, stronger relationships, and increased involvement in your institution.

But what is Authentic Engagement, and how will it impact my institution?

Join us for our Annual Conference “Authentic Engagement – The Key to Advancing Your Institution” to learn more about the ways that listening to your donors, creating meaningful giving opportunities, and responding to their interests and vision, can spark a lifelong relationship that leads to true investment of time, talent and treasure in your institution by constituents. Learn ways to engage with donors and prospects from the very beginning through successful acquisition events, communicating and engaging with constituents as they wish to be involved and through volunteer opportunities.  Understand the importance of Leadership Annual Gifts and the knowledge and relationships your employees have of prospective donors.

Participate in an Art of Inquiry lesson and exercise to build better relationship skills. Gonser Gerber defines the Art of Inquiry as “the gentle art of relationship-building by asking well-crafted questions based on your genuine interest in the other person and to which you do not already know the answer.” The Art of Inquiry is focused on building relationships by asking good questions that are not leading, rather authentically-asked, open-ended, and intended to create better understanding. We believe that practicing these skills, during our conference and beyond, will help you build better relationships with your donors.

Also included in our program are the following seminars (see our schedule for more details):

  • Authentic Engagement: Re-Discovering Our Purpose in Advancement
  • Donor Acquisition – Expanding Your Base of Support
  • We Hear You – The Role of Research and Communications in Donor Relationships
  • The Alumni/Constituent Life Cycle
  • The Importance of Leadership Gifts to Your Annual Fund
  • The Art of Inquiry – Critical to Success in Major and Planned Gifts
  • Building and Strengthening a Culture of Engagement within Your Institution
  • Volunteer Engagement in the Life of Your Institution
  • Effective Advancement Services – Necessary Tools to Track Engagement

In addition to Gonser Gerber partners and senior consultants, our speakers include:

  • Matthew Andrew, Vice President for University Advancement, St. Cloud State University, Minnesota
  • Sister Mary Ann Barnhorn, Director of Development, Sisters of Notre Dame, Ohio
  • Stephen Catlett, Associate Vice Chancellor of Development, The University of Tennessee Knoxville
  • Elizabeth Clingaman, Executive Director of Institutional Advancement, Sacred Heart Schools, Kentucky
  • Nancy Gray, President, Hollins University, Virginia
  • Charles Shepard, Vice President for Institutional Advancement, Asbury University, Kentucky
  • Christen Wilson, Head of Advancement and Administration, Magellan International School, Texas

We encourage you to bring a team of administrators, board members, and volunteers for optimal benefit to your institution, including:

  • Governing and Foundation Board Leaders
    • Executive Committee
    • Advancement Committee
    • Development Committee
    • Finance Committee
  • Presidents, Heads, and CEOs
  • Campaign Volunteer Leaders
  • Vice Presidents and Chief Advancement Officers
  • Development Directors
  • Annual Giving staff
  • Major Gift and Planned Giving staff
  • Prospect Researchers
  • Campaign staff
  • Communications and Public Relations staff

Schedule and Location

Our Annual Conference is scheduled to begin at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday, August 3 and end at 12:30 p.m. on Friday, August 4.  A complimentary continental breakfast is provided each morning, as well as refreshments provided throughout the session.  The lunch period on each day will be left open so that you may arrange to meet prospective donors or other friends of your institution while in the Chicago area.

Our Annual Conference is located at The Westin Lombard Yorktown Center, Lombard, Illinois.  Designed as the premier hotel and conference facility in Chicago’s western suburbs, the Westin is just 12 miles southwest of O’Hare International Airport in the heart of the Lombard/Oak Brook business and shopping corridor.  Located amidst popular restaurants and department and specialty stores, the Westin provides opportunities for evening entertainment and venues for meeting with supporters of your institution.

A block of rooms for conference attendees has been reserved and will be held at the rate of $165/night until July 12, 2017.  Please make your hotel reservations directly with the Westin Lombard.  Participants can register online or call 888-627-9031 and ask for the Gonser Gerber room rate.

This block of rooms is limited, so please make your reservations as early as possible to avoid paying the higher, regular rate.

Calvin H. Stoney Retirement Celebration

On August 4, 2017, Cal will be retiring after 38 years of distinguished service to his clients and the firm.  A celebration of his career will take place at a formal reception following the firm’s Annual Conference on August 3rd at 5:00 p.m. at the Westin Hotel in Lombard, Illinois.  Attendees at the Annual Conference are welcome to join us. Find out more about Cal’s contribution to the Advancement profession in this announcement. Thank you, Cal, for being such a dedicated and talented consultant for our firm and for being the ideal Partner with which to share our business of philanthropic advancement. May the road ahead be filled with joy and love.


Registrations are open to current clients of Gonser Gerber as well as non-client institutions that are interested in the conference topic. The cost for non-clients to register is $795 for the first participant, $700 for each additional participant. There is no charge for clients (up to six representatives per client institution are allowed at no charge).

We look forward to having you with us!