There's no way Lindsay Boswell could top his US counterparts opening of a convention. At the 43rd AFP Conference in Atlanta, after a cheesy intro from a convention sponsor, Paulette rose majestically from the back of the stage amid fanfare, flashing lights and much dry ice, waving regally to an excited, whooping audience. Actually, to a few of us Brits lurking at the back of the vast plenary room, it looked as if she was rising out of a giant birthday cake - impressive staging though.This is my first experience of the AFP Convention of Champions and what strikes me is that coalface fundraisers over here face many of the same problems as their UK colleagues. Talking to delegates in seminar sessions and those who come to our exhibition booth, you soon realise that most work for smaller, community based organisations, live sometimes isolated existences in the management structure, and have boards who just cannot or will not face up to the need for investment in fundraising.There are some great sounding sessions in the programme though, for example, on Sunday afternoon I'm torn between Ready, Set, Raise: Small Groups in Fundraising (plenty of capital letters here) - Entry level (0 - 2 years), midlevel (3-6 years) and Help! My Fundraising Programme is Dead! (lots of exclamation marks too) - Midlevel (3-6 years). I might be a wee bit cynical but should a fundraiser with 6 years' experience be running a dead programme? Either way the answer is always the same, send more direct mail.