Top 3 Lessons to Take from the Central Florida Community Partners Conference

Last week the UCF Nonprofit Management Advisory Board hosted the 14th Annual Central Florida Community Partners Nonprofit Conference; the region’s largest gathering of nonprofit professionals and students. The Conference speakers included Nancy Gidusko of Walt Disney World Community Relations, the “Donor Relations Guru” Lynne Wester, Greg Higgerson of Second Harvest, and many more. The conference was generously sponsored by Heart of Florida United Way, Valencia College, Association of Fundraising Professionals Central Florida Chapter, the Central Florida Foundation, Cross Fernandez Riley, Unleashing Performance, Inc., and other generous community supporters. Our very own YNPN Orlando Board Chair Jessica Schwendeman (Heart of Florida United Way) served as Conference Chair.


If you missed out on the event, the good news is it will happen again next year! Here are the Top 3 Lessons we’d like to share that we took from the Conference.

Lesson 1 – Be thankful and take time to share your gratitude. 

This was a common theme echoed across multiple speakers from Lynne Wester to Nancy Gidusko. We may be thankful but are we expressing our thanks to our sponsors/donors/supporters/members? If we are expressing thanks, is it a meaningful, handwritten note or a shot-out on Twitter? Anyone can take a few seconds to send a tweet or post on Facebook, but the good old-fashioned handwritten thank you note is still the most meaningful way to sincerely express gratitude- and the most appreciated!

IMG_3126Lesson 2 – All organizations, profit or nonprofit, have the potential to make a difference. 

Tammi Runzler made an interesting point with her presentation on Corporate Social Responsibility that all organizations have the ability to make a difference. There is a trend, largely influenced by the Millennial generation, where Corporations are realizing the need to be socially responsible whether it be donating to a specific cause or simply supporting a variety of charitable organizations. In her speech on Building Strong Corporate Partnerships, Nancy Gidusko highlighted the marriage between Corporate America and nonprofits, and illustrated how to ask a large Corporation to support a cause. With the trend of more corporations seeking social responsibility, there is an opportunity that presents itself for nonprofits to capitalize on the additional donors – assuming you can ask correctly. This includes being knowledgable about your cause and what you are asking for before you ask, and then again expressing gratitude and giving recognition when due to donors that have contributed (i.e. at an annual Gala).

IMG_3197Lesson 3 – The Millennials are the best generation EVER.

Ok- so maybe the author is slightly bias, but the Millennial generation is HERE! Not coming – here. And we are here in a BIG way. Tom Horvath shared some fun facts about this generation in his closing session, “Working with the Millennial Generation: R U Ready?” Did you know that the Millennials are the LARGEST generation in US history with 80-90 MILLION people? Those are more than just large numbers, they actually mean a lot. The Millennial generation will have the most purchasing power of ANY generation by 2017. Remember how we were talking about the Millennials pushing a trend for Corporations to be more socially responsible? By 2017, they will need to be, because research has shown that Millennials support companies that support worthy causes and their purchasing power reinforces that. Over 75% of Millennials have donated to a cause and over 63% have spent time volunteering. Which such a charitable group, we have the ability to largely influence companies with our purchasing power to make a difference, while still making a difference ourselves! This is an incredible power – and clearly helps to make us the best generation ever! (note: if you’re still not convinced the author would love to meet you at the next event and continue this discussion further).


If you were not able to make it to the event, we hope you enjoyed our Top 3 Lessons. If you did make it to the event, what were your favorite lessons from it? Did you have a favorite speaker or topic? If so, let us know in the Comments below!

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