It’s milestone time (again), friends! As many of you know, I was in Hong Kong earlier this month at the CASE Asia Pacific Advancement Conference. What an amazing experience and a whirlwind of a trip. A ton of amazing things happened and I can’t wait to write about it all here, but first things first:
Hong Kong is a looooooooooong ways from DC. 8300 miles and 12 hours ahead, to be exact. I did NOT adjust well. For the majority of my four day stay, I. Was. Sleepy. I was ready for bed every night by 8pm, and I couldn’t shake the feeling each day by 4pm that I pulled an all nighter. Frequent world travelers: you have my deep appreciation. Please drop me a note and teach me your secrets.
So now I’ve given the caveat that I sleepwalked through my entire HK trip, here’s some of the awesome stuff that happened:
I was raised on a capella music and sang throughout high school and college. Imagine my delight to see an a capella group at the opening ceremony of the conference! The Acapelicans from University of Sydney were on an Asian tour, and they stopped in to serenade us. It was such a treat! Here they are:
On the other side of the world, our colleagues in advancement are breaking new ground. The collaboration at this conference was a breath of fresh air. Not that we don’t have collaboration at conferences in the States, but it’s different. Consider the facts. In the US, we’re all operating from a common playbook. Tax laws here are the same. The culture of philanthropy is shared. Privacy laws are relatively laid back. Fundraising professionals in Australia, New Zealand, and Asia face basic challenges around many of the factors that are business as usual in our world in the States.
Here’s an example by way of illustration:
1. Let’s say you’re the director of development at a secondary school in Australia. You’re planning a trip to Hong Kong (for the CASE Asia Pacific Conference, of course), and you need to locate your alumni living in the area to invite to a dinner while you’re in town.
2. You might start by pulling a list that includes: alumni who went on to attend colleges in Hong Kong, alumni whose last known address (business or home) is in Hong Kong, alumni who may live in Macau or another area that isn’t too far of a drive/ferry trip from Hong Kong. Locating updated addresses on individuals will be quite a challenge, especially considering how many countries you may have to include in your search.
3. Once they are found, how do you identify which alumni have the greatest potential to be major supporters of the school? Capacity information is hard to locate due to privacy laws, so you’ll probably want to mine your database for internal clues, or you’ll just send out a blanket invitation to all contactable alumni that were on your list in step 2.
4. Let’s skip ahead. You had a small but mighty turn out for your event, and you are strategizing next steps for the attendees. How do you motivate this select group to stay involved and eventually donate? There aren’t tax laws incentivizing them to support you. How do you keep in touch when you’re navigating so many different countries, laws, languages, and customs?
That was just one example, but it gives you an idea of how hands-on and practical this conference is. Attendees were excited to be there and were looking for concrete takeaways to implement in their shops. I got emails following the conference from a few individuals who attended my session and were able to implement some takeaways from the ideas I presented. I am thrilled to know that I was able to provide useful, tactical information, and I definitely got some great information out of the sessions I attended.
By Friday afternoon, the bulk of the conference was over, my jetlag had mostly faded, and it was sunny for the first time since I arrived. I decided to seize the moment and take a trip up to the Peak. The Peak is a tourist destination/ sightseeing spot in Hong Kong. You have to take this tram up a really steep incline to get there, so steep that it makes you feel like the whole tram might topple over if someone onboard sneezes too forcefully. And you have to wait in line forever for the tram. But once you get there, you are on top of the world. It is so beautiful! Hong Kong is surrounded by water, so it looks like a private oasis when you look at it from the sky:
I passed a few milestones this trip that I’m excited to share.
Passport ready: This was my first international work trip and my first time in Asia. While I could have navigated the jetlag better, I really enjoyed my stay and learned a lot about the challenges of fundraising in other countries.
Status: Several things make the life of a frequent traveler easier. Among them: TSA precheck, luggage with four wheels, and upgraded airline status. This trip got me to MileagePlus Premier Silver Status on United. I haven’t flown with United since then, but when I do, I’ll be sure to report back on whatever magic I experience by being bumped up one tier. I’ve still got a ways to go before I make it into the “drop everything, Bond is on this flight” category (I realize it has an official name like diamond or eternity, but isn’t mine better?).
Batter-up: BWF has a tradition of giving all new employees a baseball bat with your name on it when you start at the firm. I was due to receive mine at our all-firm meeting in January, but the horrible winter took its toll and the bats weren’t yet ready. My first day back in the office after returning from CASE Asia Pacific I found this waiting for me:
Now I’m officially part of the team!