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My Reflections on the 2018 Petrus Leadership Conference

plc Jan 23, 2018

By Ryan Kekula, Director of Development of Warhawk Catholic Campus Ministry at U of Wisconsin – Whitewater

The day I showed up at the 2018 Petrus Leadership Conference in San Antonio, TX, I had been a Development Director for exactly 97 days.  Suffice it to say, I had no idea what to expect from my first development conference.  Being back home and having some time to reflect, it’s more than fair to say that this conference was extremely valuable for me even as a newbie.

UW-Whitewater Warhawk Catholic Campus Ministry is starting a brand new development program, so the chance for me to go to the conference and meet people from other campuses as various stages in their development programs was a great opportunity to learn, have conversations with colleagues and hear some experienced speakers.  The conference was a great way to share ideas, best practices, and even things that didn’t work, and that really helps put us on the right track for a successful development program.  I felt that the biggest take-away that presenters continued to bring up was to continuously focus on making the phone calls and making the meetings.  Development takes time to get going, but once it gets going, it also takes time and effort to keep it sustaining.

I was impressed that the presenters covered a variety of topics. Tara Doyon was great at reminding us that qualifying a donor means ensuring that the donor has both the ability and the willingness to support our ministry and not just one or the other.  Mark Randall helped make the most of our cultivation visits by reiterating that cultivation is “The long process… of building a relationship… that will sustain a request… to invest in your mission.”  Marcel LeJeune spoke of the 5 signs of organizational health and reminded us that our programs should be unified in those key areas of Clarity, Sincerity & Trust, Healthy Communication, Teams, and Humility.  Sometimes, I think we could all work on having more humility.  Amy Moraczewski and Chris Considine delivered some important strategies for Planned Giving. We know this is not an easy topic, but talking with our supporters early on can make the conversations easier as everyone ages.  Peter de Keratry had several tips for Making the Ask and I think we all enjoyed his anecdotal stories along the way.

Allison Seibert, Rhen Hoehn, and Father Ben Hasse gave lots of helpful tips to growing monthly giving and matching collections.  That presentation was one of my favorites because I think it is something we could incorporate at any time and at any giving level and use as a way to continue to cultivate and stay connected with our donors and supporters.  Jamie Cappetta provided great insights intometrics for Development and Ministry. Something to keep in mind is the costs per dollar earned, and also how dollars raised fit with our vision and value statements.  Guy Mallabone helped take the fundamentals of a good development program to become a great development program.  I really enjoyed the quote he shared when speaking with donors saying “I want to honor your interest in the project.”

There were several other great presenters as well, I wish I could have been in two places at once!  San Antonio itself and the Drury Plaza Hotel on the Riverwalk was a great place to have a January conference.  I highly recommend the next Petrus Leadership Conference and I’ll be looking forward to seeing you all in Nashville in June 2019!

Ryan Kekula is the Director of Development for the Warhawk Catholic Campus Ministry at U of Wisconsin – Whitewater. Ryan is a 2008 UW-Whitewater graduate and former member of Warhawk Catholic.  He was an active student in the Warhawk Catholic student group while he was earning his undergrad degree in Finance.  Ryan came back to Whitewater after spending several years in banking in the Milwaukee area. 


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