The 2024 Development and Membership Symposium, Blooming in the Desert, was held January 10-12 in Tucson. Hosted by the Tucson Botanical Garden, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, and Tohono Chul Park, the symposium was attended by approximately 120 development and membership professionals and marked the first in-person community conference since 2019. The keynote address was presented by Bill Stanczykiewicz of the University of Indiana’s preeminent Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. An esteemed dean, professor, and director of The Fund Raising School at Lilly, Bill opened the symposium with his compelling and timely presentation, Fundraising in Turbulent Times.

Attendees were riveted by Bill’s address, which focused on continuing challenges for development professionals, and in equal measure, he also highlighted positive indicators for the future, and outlined helpful best practices for maximizing funding results. Bill began his presentation with the comment, “No matter how we count the money, fundraising has increased nationwide from 1982-2022.” He also shared that in 2022, the country saw a slight dip in contributions back to pre-pandemic numbers. The growing trend of individuals giving to Donor Advised Funds (DAFs) was also discussed. One implication of the DAF trend is that many donors are now “bunching” contributions by saving money in DAFs for several years before distributing a major gift.

Bill’s booming former sportscaster voice and his entertaining presentation peppered with wit and wonderful storytelling made for great audience engagement. The crowd became particularly energetic when Bill reviewed fundraising trends across generations as Baby Boomers and Gen Zers were eager to comment on their generation’s philanthropic habits. The momentum behind Bill’s words and the relevancy of his presentation set the stage for what became a stimulating three days and a wonderfully informative symposium.

On behalf of the symposium committee, we thank Bill Stanczykiewicz and all the symposium presenters, sponsors, host gardens, committee members, APGA staff, and participants for helping to make Blooming in the Desert such a memorable opportunity for community sharing and professional growth.