Over the past twenty years, I’ve probably been to as many fundraising conferences as anybody. But, on May 11, I went to one that was COMPLETELY different: the #DonorLove Rendezvous. And, not only was it different, it was great!

I spent a whole day with about 150 fundraisers from Canada, the USA and Ireland. Sure, we learned a little about how to fundraise. But, mostly we celebrated ourselves, our donors and each other.

The conference organizers, Maeve Strathy and Rory Green had this truly original pair of ideas:

  • What if we focused the day on donors and giving – rather than fundraising and money?
  • What if the delegates (rather than the speakers) were made the stars of the show?

The concept is original – and it worked bigtime. Everyone in the streetcar barn with the big skylight (NOT a hotel basement conference room with stale air and no windows) laughed and clapped, tossed balloons and sang happy birthday to a speaker (who was a donor and not a fundraiser!).

The event was called the #DonorLove Rendezvous. At registration, delegates got heart shaped cookies and handwritten notes that said thanks for coming. We ate lunch from jars and had espresso-drizzled ice cream for dessert. Small discussion groups with experts were held in people’s living rooms close to the venue or at picnic tables outside.

When the day was drawing to a close, everyone stood up and recited a pledge where we promised to love, cherish and respect our donors.

I was impressed.

I was engaged.

I was inspired.

Earlier this week, I read a great blog on LinkedIn about the one job perk that everyone craves but few get.  That perk is simple, honest, heartfelt appreciation. Our employees need it. Our kids need it. Our spouses need it. The guy at the gas station needs it. And yes, your donors need it too.

I hope that Maeve and Rory decide to hold #DonorLove Rendezvous 2 next year. And if they do, I really hope you’ll come. I know I’ll be there – for the love of it.