Despite the devastation wrought by Superstorm Sandy, The Women’s Alliance National Conference 2012 kicked off on Thursday, November 1, 2012, at the beautiful Radisson Plaza in downtown Philadelphia. Attendees came together for three days of learning and sharing, centered on this year’s theme, Renewable Resources: Maximizing Time, Talent and Treasure.
Registration opened at noon and soon, we were all catching up in the Chestnut room at the Radisson Plaza, Warwick Hotel. Conference started off with Recycling Ideas that Work, one of the most anticipated sessions of every conference. Members shared their best ideas relating to Events, Volunteers, Boards and Sponsorships.
One attendee shared her excitement, saying “It was great to meet and get to know the women of the member organizations and to hear what great things are happening for them.”
Thursday evening, members were welcomed to Career Wardrobe’s main client location for a welcome reception. Career Wardrobe opened their doors with board members and staff on hand to give tours and answer program questions. As one member remarked, it is “always worthwhile to visit and tour another agency!”
The first full day of conference began with breakfast at the Annual Members’ Meeting, where we were brought up to date on TWA’s activities in the 2012, as well as what we can look forward to in the coming year.
Laura Otten, Director of The Nonprofit Center at LaSalle University, was up next, presenting Finding the Treasure: Fundraising Beyond the Foundation Model. Ms. Otten focused on strategic thinking about fundraising. Ms. Otten was, in the words of one attendee, a “great speaker with very informative information on [the] current state of fund raising and trends for the future.”
From fundraising, we moved on to talent-raising. Lynda-Ross Vega, a Partner with Vega Behavioral Consulting and Director of The Women’s Alliance, presented practical ways to capitalize on your employees’ and volunteers’ natural strength in Building Talent: Build on Strengths Personality and When Engaging Volunteers.
Ms. Vega’s workshop “resonated with me,” said one member. “It inspired me to focus on my natural skills.”
Our Hanky Panky keynote luncheon speaker, Gail Bower, of Bower & Co., shared her expertise in marketing and sponsorships in her presentation, Beyond Gold, Silver and Bronze: Treasures of More Powerful Corporate Sponsorships. Ms. Bower emphasized how partnerships can grow when you make meaningful connections between your program and a sponsor, creating a greater impact for both organizations. According to one member, this was an “excellent presentation! I think this type of information has the potential to make TWA members stand out among non-profits asking for sponsorship dollars.” As an added bonus, member programs and the TWA board of directors received a copy of Ms. Bower’s book!
The keynote lunch was followed by an Individual Fundraising Panel led by Renata Singer, TWA Director and representative of Fitted for Work, Molly McAndrew, of Career Wardrobe and Carole Kindling, of The Birthing Center and Career Wardrobe board member.
This panel explained best practices to approach and ask individuals to support your program. One attendee gleaned “great insights into individual donors and their lifecycle.”
We closed out the day with Paige Wolf, of Paige Wolf Media and Public Relations, and Heather Bennett, of Career Wardrobe, presenting High Impact, Low Cost: Marketing through Social Media. Many members were intrigued by the potential for integrating social media and blogging into their media outreach. One member thought this session was “very helpful and spot on for today's use of technology to promote our organization.”
After a full day, we were ready to unwind and do some serious shopping! Attendees headed over to The Wardrobe Boutique, the resale boutique of Career Wardrobe. Dinner was provided while members shopped, mingled and networked. Members helped make it possible for The Wardrobe Boutique to have its highest earnings day to date!
We were proud to host Ana Lisa Yoder, Program Officer of The Philadelphia Foundation as our breakfast keynote speaker. Her presentation What’s Next for Your Program highlighted strong leadership, management, operational, and adaptive systems to help members learn how to deliver on their mission.
“This presentation had good information and the group breakout with each topic was just enough interaction,” said one attendee.
Following breakfast, Sheri Cole from Career Wardrobe presented Program Outcomes: Small Investment for Big Return about gathering data on outcomes to attract supporters and funders. This session was a big hit, with one member noting, “This is why I came! Sheri gave me all that I was hoping for! Outcomes are so important.”
The final presentation, Why Stop at “Just Clothes?”, by Caitlin Day of Career Wardrobe and Trina Fleming of Women Helping Women, discussed programs that go beyond clothing while staying true to the organization’s mission. Career Wardrobe has created Style Me Hired, a program that combines makeovers for 100 women in one day with job readiness programs and a job fair. Women Helping Women premiered Project Interview, a contest that helps participants perfect their interview skills through a reality show format consisting of mock phone and in-person interviews with corporate volunteers. For one attendee, this session was “excellent. We are trying to go beyond clothes very slowly. This was helpful.”
Conference 2012 was a great success, and a fantastic networking opportunity for all those who attended. Moreover, all TWA members will benefit from the information and speakers, as each program will receive Gail Bower’s book as well as a flash drive with all conference documentation and presentations, courtesy of our sponsor PECO. Many thanks to all of our sponsors: Hanky Panky, Smart & Sexy, Amia, Ernst & Young and PECO.
Don’t forget to start your budgeting now to join us next year in Maryland, where member Success in Style will showcase its unique business model and gorgeous resale storefronts!
Ernst & Young