Conference Recap: ANA Nonprofit Chicago

September 20, 2019

Observations and learnings from hundreds of nonprofit fundraising and marketing professionals.

One thing is clear – nonprofit professionals face a great challenge when it comes to the competitive landscape for fundraising. I recently attended the ANA Nonprofit Conference and participated in some fantastic sessions with presenters from nonprofits or partner firms that provide services to help with fundraising

While they have their work cut out for them, they are responding in a way that is enormously impressive.

There is some really great work being done – not just for supporting wonderful causes – but also in the areas of marketing, fundraising and overall business, with creative strategies to help nonprofits:

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  • Find the right channels to educate potential donors on causes
  • Identify target audiences
  • Track results 
  • Generate donations

Key themes from the conference

You don’t need to go about it alone

Partnerships – especially with brands – should be a part of any fundraising strategy. There were a couple of good case studies - Nationwide Children's Hospital’s “On Our Sleeves” campaign and Share Our Strength’s “No Kid Hungry” campaign to name a few – that really demonstrated the effectiveness of leveraging brand partners.  Here’s how:

  1. Understand the reach of the brands and the consumer engagement and loyalty that comes with it. This is a key part of effectively leveraging brand.
  2. Influencers and champions should be viewed as partners and incorporated into the overall strategy. As many of you know, getting the right influencer can instantaneously increase awareness.
  3. Consider other nonprofits as potential partners. In her keynote, Lynn Godfrey, Chief Brand and Marketing Communications Officer from Girl Scouts USA, talked about the wonderful young women who participate in Girl Scouts and how they can literally be an “army of volunteers.” They easily can infuse another cause and build awareness by simply getting involved.

It's a generational thing

We learned about donor behavior of every generation, from baby boomers to Gen Z.  Obviously, the retirement of baby boomers – the largest and wealthiest current generation – is on the mind of fundraisers everywhere.  But Gen X is poised to take over as they begin to experience the wealth transfer from baby boomers, and increase their donations.  While millennials and Gen Z are donating frequently, the amounts tend to be less.

The younger generations are more likely to volunteer their time. Advocacy plays a big role in their lives and it’s important for younger generations to get involved. Expectedly, the channels for donating and sharing information can vary from one generation to the next with the younger generations having higher rates of social media use. 

Example: PETA creates generation programs such as PETA Kids to align with the varying generations who support them.

Your social life might need improvement

Social media was a huge theme throughout the conference. It’s a massive part of marketing in general – and its role in fundraising is enormous. Discussions included two main themes, strategy and content.

  1. Strategy:  It’s critical to build a successful social media strategy that includes clear goals. One suggestion: include a social media strategy within digital fundraising that sets goals for both engagement and revenue. I was surprised to hear a recent survey showed that non-digital media buys had fundraising metrics as a goal, whereas digital media buys simply had an awareness goal.
  2. Content: Best practices around content development is important. Examples: Align your content with the channel (Twitter is the best channel for legislative content).  Use volunteers to focus on social. Make sure you respond to all comments on social media. Build out a strategy that leverages user generated content (which is more trusted) than your own generated content.

I recommend this highly informative conference to anyone who works in marketing for a nonprofit or who is interested in improving overall fundraising efforts.

If you’d like to learn more, I’m happy to review more details. Contact me

Legal Note

Information provided by SEI Investments Management Corporation (SIMC), a registered investment adviser and wholly owned subsidiary of SEI Investments Company (SEI). SEI is a sponsor of the ANA Nonprofit Federation.

This information is intended for educational purposes only.