Starting Point is the AGN podcast that features interesting people from across the world of annual giving and educational fundraising. Tune in with host Dan Allenby to find out how each guest got started, who inspired them, mistakes they made, decisions that mattered, and why annual giving is important to them. Listen to episodes below or wherever you get your podcasts.


S3 E4: John Templeman, Director of Annual Giving at Cleveland State University, talks about doing fun things, writing a giving day rap song, leveraging social media influencers, acting like a mad scientist, letting things go when they don’t work, and more!

S3 E3: Megan Rajski, Director of Annual Giving at Fairfield University, talks about making the decision to take a job in a different part of the country, negotiating salary, working “in” the office, applying experience at a big nonprofit to educational fundraising, starting out as a volunteer, and more!

S3 E2: Jenny Daigle Benoit, Executive Director for Annual Giving at Penn State, talks about leading through adversity, staying tuned in to current events, doing crazy dances, taking care of your own, being kind, and more!

S3 E1: Christy Moss, Vice President of Membership & Marketing at the University of Illinois Alumni Association, talks about dealing with hallucinations, using Artificial Intelligence, recognizing the next big thing, continuing to learn, planning like Taylor Swift, and more.

S2 E12: Mary Risner, Chief Development Officer at Westover School, talks about choosing a side, being comfortable talking about money, understanding the mission, doing the hard stuff, picking favorites, and more.

S2 E11: Mae Parker, Director of Annual Giving at Grinnell College, talks about changing a life, finding inspiration in failure, approaching the hiring process, helping donors get from “either/or” to “and”, giving a lift to annual giving, and more.

S2 E10: Adam Bradley, Senior Director of Annual Giving at the University of Michigan, talks about asking stupid questions, searching for talent, thirty-one flavors of remote work, having too many giving days, being an annual giving advocate, and more.

S2 E9: Gina Fiorillo, Assistant Vice President for Annual Giving at NYU, talks about being an inch wide but going a mile deep, understanding everyday people, the art of storytelling, dealing with change, trusting your inner voice, and more.

S2 E8: Melinda Phillips, Former Assistant Vice Chancellor for Annual Giving at Vanderbilt University, talks about feeling fulfilled, setting realistic expectations for yourself, dealing with burnout, losing human connection, writing thank you notes by hand, and more.

S2 E7: Tyrell Warren-Burnett, Senior Director of Annual Giving at the Oregon State University Foundation, talks about being a sponge, knowing what you don’t know, building a personal board of advisors, applying lessons learned in other fields, and allocating an hour of each day to doing research on industry trends, and more.

S2 E6: Amanda Lazarus, Co-Executive Director, Annual Giving at Brown University, talks about co-piloting a program, teamwork, using technology to facilitate broader alumni connections, being intentional about prospect visits, the significance of giving days, and more.

S2 E5:Anthony Cernera, AVP for Development Connecticut Children’s talks about celebrating your mistakes, playing chess, hiring the right team, expanding your network, having a good life, and more.

S2 E4: Greg Knedler, Associate Vice Chancellor for Development at Troy University, talks about questioning the pastor, making time to learn and think, using big data, staffing around AI, hiring people who use both sides of their brain, and more.

S2 E3: Gloria Goosby, Director of Annual Giving at Furman University, talks about the importance of having a mentor, being a player-coach, establishing workflows, using technology to build relationships, the future of phonathons, and more.

S2 E2: Amy Burke, Senior Director of Annual Giving Programs at Wellesley College, talks about loving your work, drinking from the firehose, taking risks, learning from failure, adapting to change, and more.

S2 E1: Meredith Johnston, VP of Philanthropy at Scripps Research, talks about finding true north, the difference between leaders and managers, leaving a place you love, annual vs. major gift strategy, dumb luck, and more.

S1 E6: Colin Hennessy, VP for Alumni & Donor Engagement at the University of Iowa Center for Advancement, talks about opening the door to possibility, feeling stuck in annual giving, technology, teaching, consulting, and more.

S1 E5: Amy Bronson, AVP for Advancement Resources and Strategic Talent Management at Boston University talks about thinking beyond salary, recruiting and retaining great employees, stay interviews, adapting to change, having mentors, and more.

S1 E4: Dan Levine, President and Founder of Engaging Minds Inc., talks about developing executive functions, learning to learn, getting things done, the importance of focus, the new skills needed for success, and more.

S1 E3: Nky McGinnis, Executive Director of Annual Giving Programs at the University of Rochester, talks about believing in yourself, being a student caller, the differences between public and private institutions, managing large teams, the first 30 days on a job, and more.

S1 E2: Scott Nichols, Scott Nichols, Consultant and Former Senior Vice President for Advancement at Boston University, talks about picking your boss, polishing the silver, being nice, asking for big numbers, sleeping well at night, and more.

S1 E1: Fritz Schroeder, VP for Development & Alumni Relations at Johns Hopkins University & Medicine, talks about setting the stage for his own career, starting out in annual giving, learning through osmosis, the job he didn’t take, holding himself accountable, and more.

For more information, please email us at [email protected] or call 888.407.5064.