2017-VFRI-Logo-AnniversaryKeynote Sessions


Karen E. Osborne, Senior Strategist, The Osborne Group, will be the opening keynote speaker at VFRI 2017, with an interactive and experiential session on the latest trends and research backed success factors in fundraising, along with those old gold ideas that still hold true: What’s New and True, What’s Old and Still Gold.

Our opening session is an idea-packed, hands-on, experiential workshop on the latest trends and research-backed success factors in fundraising. Together we’ll explore the new and the “old gold” ideas, what challenges you and what holds true to your values. We will focus on how to raise more dollars, bolster donor relationships and enhance board engagement through both innovative and time-tested methods. We’ll share, brainstorm, practice, discuss, and plan. You’ll walk away with new ideas, renewed enthusiasm, and burnished skills. This is a “can’t miss” session for all levels of development professionals, board members and executive directors.

Nationally and internationally recognized as an excellent consultant, executive coach, and presenter, Karen receives invitations from all over the United States and the world to make presentations and consult with large and small, national and international advocacy, arts, education, faith-based, federated, healthcare, justice and social service not-for-profits and institutions.

Firsthand experience backs Karen’s work. For 18 of her 34 years in the business, Karen led outstanding philanthropy operations and successfully managed campaigns as large as $200,000,000. As a consultant and campaign counsel, her experience is wide and varied including helping organizations and institutions develop and engage high performing boards, build internal capacity and achieve campaigns as large as $500,000,000.

Considered an industry thought leader, Karen has many published articles, serves on leadership panels, and is often featured in industry magazines and blogs. The Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) awarded Karen the Crystal Apple for Outstanding Teaching and Public Speaking. Karen serves on the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation board, and is an adjunct faculty member for Johns Hopkins University’s graduate certificate program, teaching philanthropy to aspiring nonprofit CEOs and board leaders.

Click here for a video of one of Karen’s presentations.

A Hutson smlAlan R. Hutson, Jr., MPA, CFRE, will begin the second day of the conference explaining why everything you know about donor decision making might be wrong with his keynote presentation, Behavioral Economics and Fundraising.

Think you know how your donors’ brains work? According to recent research in behavioral economics, all of our brains consistently misfire and produce decisions that are neither rational nor logical. At the same time, we consistently overestimate our ability to process information and make good decisions. This session explores how we can identify, address, and correct these misfires in a fundraising context, drawing from actual fundraising results from applying this work in some of the world’s largest NGOs.

Alan Hutson is managing partner of The Monument Group, a leading US-based consultancy that for almost 20 years has helped nonprofit organizations tap their fundraising potential. He is a trained economist, has been an adjunct faculty member of Virginia Commonwealth University, and facilitated for the Federal Reserve’s community engagement series.

His consulting work focuses on converting people’s passions and good ideas into viable programs within well-run organizations. Specifically, he works to demystify the fund development process for nonprofit staff and their boards by removing psychological barriers and breaking technical challenges into manageable pieces. He has been responsible for nonprofit organizations raising over $100M.

In the US or abroad, Alan deeply believes that the real brilliance is in the program side of nonprofit organizations. He feels privileged to be able to devote his managerial skills and fund development expertise to bringing those programs to scale, and is humbled by the determination and dedication of nonprofit program staff members. He feels that the excellent program staff deserves an excellent fundraising strategy to support their cause.

Keith Curtis small


VFRI will close with a panel discussion 25 Years of Philanthropy: Reflecting Back and Looking Forward. Moderated by Keith Curtis (pictured), President and Founder of The Curtis Group, this panel will discuss Virginia’s charitable history and future – and how nonprofits can properly prepare. The discussion will feature the following leading philanthropists from across the commonwealth: Sherrie Armstrong, Joan Brock, Elizabeth Cabell Jennings and John Lawson.