DMA Nonprofit Conference: Disruption at all Levels

The theme for this year’s 2017 Washington Nonprofit Conference is “Disrupt: Change yourself. Change your organization. Change the world.” And with this year’s global election cycle, it seems like the DMA picked the perfect theme to cap off 2016 and begin 2017.

The DMA Nonprofit Federation’s next conference will be held Feb. 22-24 inside the Renaissance Washington, D.C. Downtown Hotel. The conference gives nonprofit marketers at all levels the tools to strengthen relationships with donors and spread their messages even deeper into the communities they serve.

Washington, D.C. is the nexus of ideas in the United States, where the biggest voices from across this nation come together to figure out how to make this country better. So, there is no better place for the hearts of communities all over the country to come together to do the same thing.

The conference will help nonprofit marketers better integrate their fundraising channels, enhance their databases to boost response to their campaigns, find new, creative solutions to common nonprofit problems and learn from expert nonprofit communicators who have experienced many of those problems themselves.

This year’s keynote speaker is the perfect voice to kick off the conference, from one of the most well-known nonprofits in the nation: Mara Liasson, NPR’s award-winning national political correspondent. Liasson has covered six presidential elections (from 1992 to 2012) and currently serves as NPR’s White House correspondent, heard regularly on All Things Considered and Morning Edition.

The DMA Nonprofit Federation will also be presenting The Max Hart Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement in the nonprofit sector. Winners represent some of the most inspiring nonprofit innovators dedicated to sharing the vast knowledge they have gained to help other organizations. Past winners include Joan Wheatley, VP of Donor Development at the Special Olympics, Geoffrey W. Peters, CEO of Moore DM Group and Sherry Minton, the director of Direct Response for the American Heart Association.

Two other can’t-miss events include the Wine and Cheese Reception with DMA Government Affairs and the Power Networking Reception. Be aware that both events require tickets, but the Wine and Cheese Reception is free for Nonprofit Attendees who register before Feb. 16.

On top of all the great networking events, speakers, awards and receptions is the heart of the conference– the learning sessions. There are too many informative sessions to fit into one article, but they all fit into four main tracks: Build, Retain, Understand and Transform.

Learning sessions include the fast-paced “Disrupting your Acquisition Program — 12 ideas in 60 minutes that will disrupt your thinking and are nearly guaranteed to improve your Acquisition results.” Another will delve into “The Great Donorcentricity Debate,” which tackles the question of whether more communication equals more donations or if donors want less communication and more control of where their gifts go. Other sessions will cover mobile fundraising, crowdfunding and environmentally-friendly fundraising.

With Washington, D.C. being the hub for the biggest voices and ideas for the United States, the Washington Conference is the perfect opportunity for nonprofit communication professionals to learn new strategies and sharpen their skills. Hundreds of development and marketing professionals will be at the Washington conference exchanging innovative ideas, generating insights and coming up with creative solutions to the hurdles that nonprofits face. Make sure you join them.

This article is brought to you by the DMA. Click here to register for Nonprofit Federation Conference, Feb. 22-24, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

In Peer-to-Peer Fundraising, Smaller Programs Seeing Big Gains

If peer-to-peer fundraising were a race, smaller campaigns would be more than keeping pace with bigger campaigns.

A study by the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum shows the financial results of smaller peer-to-peer fundraising efforts are broadly overshadowing the results of bigger efforts.

From 2006 to 2015, the study found, four peer-to-peer fundraising programs that were dominant 10 years ago have since seen “precipitous drops” in revenue. Those four programs are the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training, the March of Dimes’ March for Babies and Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s Komen 3-Day. From 2014 to 2015 alone, revenue for the biggest of those four — the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life — fell 8.1 percent to $308 million.

Meanwhile, smaller, lesser-known programs have racked up sizable revenue spikes. For instance, the American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure collected $27.2 million in 2015, up 172.7 percent from 2006.

“While a handful of brand-name programs have struggled to keep pace with their prior results, many highly successful campaigns have emerged. As a result, more charities than ever are seeing significant revenues from peer-to-peer fundraising,” says David Hessekiel, president of the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum.

At DMA’s 2017 Washington Nonprofit Conference, representatives of CDR Fundraising Group, Disabled American Veterans and The National WWII Museum will delve into peer-to-peer fundraising during a session titled, “Catching Fire: Crowdfunding, Peer-to-Peer Fundraising and Beyond.”

Through peer-to-peer fundraising, supporters of a nonprofit tap friends, relatives and colleagues for donations, often through participation in walks and rides, Hessekiel’s organization says.

In its study, the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum found that when fundraising totals for the four programs that witnessed substantial drops in revenue were subtracted, the remaining efforts collectively raised $1.11 billion in 2015, up nearly 54 percent from 2006. By comparison, the four former leaders saw their collective revenue decline about 36 percent from 2006 to 2015, winding up at $455.8 million.

Among the biggest gainers from 2006 to 2015 was the Alzheimer’s Association’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s, the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum study indicates. The program raised nearly $77.5 million in 2015, up 154 percent from 2006.

Walks like those sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association are gaining ground, according to a study by Blackbaud, a provider of fundraising software for nonprofits.

From 2013 to 2015, the Blackbaud study says, online donation revenue for walks shot up 17 percent, with endurance events such as marathons experiencing an even greater increase — 21 percent. However, revenue was down 4 percent for cycling fundraisers and down 13 percent for 5K fundraisers during the same period, Blackbaud says.

Whether donations are up or down, peer-to-peer fundraising programs such as walks and 5Ks remain the “bread and butter” of many nonprofits, according to Blackbaud. However, that “bread and butter” is being threatened.

“Today, there are more nonprofit organizations, more events and more competition for participants and dollars,” Blackbaud says. “Additionally, you have crowd-fundraising platforms popping up left and right, giving individuals more opportunities to create their own fundraising pages and events without needing a nonprofit to provide fundraising tools.”

Nonetheless, Blackbaud notes, some peer-to-peer fundraising programs keep thriving. Fundraisers like the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk, the Alzheimer’s Association’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s and the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s Cycle for Survival “all deal with the same uncertain times, yet they’ve found a way to continue to grow year over year,” Blackbaud says.

In fact, the Heart Walk proves that not all large, well-established peer-to-peer programs are suffering from slipping revenue. According to the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum, the Heart Walk pulled in $117.1 million last year, up nearly 5.7 percent from 2014.

“We’ve seen a true democratization of peer-to-peer, where your success isn’t driven by the type of event you run, but rather your ability to produce excellent experiences for volunteer fundraisers,” Hessekiel says. “You no longer have to be among the largest or most established organizations to raise money through peer-to-peer.”

This article is brought to you by the DMA. Click here to register for Nonprofit Federation Conference, Feb. 22-24, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

NPR Political Vet Mara Liasson Keynotes 2017 Nonprofit Conference

Washington, D.C. is the hub for the voices and ideas that keep America moving, and the keynote speaker for DMA’s 2017 Washington Nonprofit Conference, Mara Liasson, has reported on some of the loudest voices in the nation.

Liasson is a veteran national political correspondent for National Public Radio, one of the biggest nonprofits in the country. Liasson will be delivering her keynote speech on the first day of the 2017 Washington Nonprofit Conference to kick off the two days of learning.

Currently, Liasson is a regular contributor to NPR’s All Things Considered and Morning Edition. She provides extensive coverage of DC politics with a focus on policies that come out of the White House and Congress. But she has a finger on the political pulse of the country as a whole as well. Liasson can also be seen often on FOX News as a contributor and serves as a panelist for FOX News Sunday.

Liasson has a rich history as a political correspondent and has covered six presidential elections going back to 1992 (seven if you count the 2016 election). Before her current assignment, Liasson served as NPR’s White House correspondent for all eight years of the Clinton administration. She also won the White House Correspondents’ Association’s Merriman Smith Award for daily news coverage three times: in 1994, 1995 and 1997. Before that, Liasson was NPR’s congressional correspondent from 1989-1992.

But Liasson doesn’t only have experience on the east coast. Before joining NPR, Liasson was a freelance radio and TV reporter in San Francisco, and she was also a managing editor and anchor of California Edition, a California Public Radio nightly news program.

The theme of the 2017 conference is ‘”Disrupt,” and Liasson is the perfect person to talk about the political and cultural disruptions currently taking place. With her work on NPR and FOX News, Liasson has listened to voices from all over the political spectrum and delivered fair, balanced reporting no matter her platform.

This year, Liasson kept a close eye on the energetic presidential campaign from stump speeches to debates to election night itself. Since Nov. 8, Liasson has been reporting on announcements for the president-elect’s cabinet picks as well as general reaction to Trump winning the presidency.

Though it is difficult to predict the future with any certainty anymore, Liasson will be a great speaker to kick off the 2017 Washington Nonprofit Conference. Not only is she one of the longest-running voices on one of the most famous nonprofit organizations in the country, but she has been avidly following the social and political currents that have made this global electoral season so disruptive.

To keep up with all the social and technological disruptions that may affect your nonprofit, make sure to attend the DMA’s 2017 Washington Nonprofit Conference this February.

This article is brought to you by the DMA. Click here to register for Nonprofit Federation Conference, Feb. 22-24, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

Should Nonprofit Marketers Give a Hoot About #GivingTuesday?

Though #GivingTuesday 2016 is barely a memory, it is never too early to start thinking about next year’s campaign.

A social-media-fueled day of giving, #GivingTuesday (because all good campaigns have a hashtag) has been gaining traction in recent years. In fact, it’s gained so much ground that imitators are starting to pop up. But as #GivingTuesday and giving events like it become more and more of a benevolence blitzkrieg, the question is whether or not it’s worth it for nonprofits to wade into the donation fray or save their energies for other campaigns?

For those who are unfamiliar, #GivingTuesday was created as a way to combat the commercialization of the holiday season, so it is always held the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (following Black Friday and Cyber Monday). The day of donation doesn’t have much infrastructure or any central platform to collection donations and works more as an international awareness campaign for people to donate.

#GivingTuesday has been so successful at gaining attention that we are starting to see communities, cities and states organize their own days of giving to encourage their residents to contribute to nonprofits.

Since #GivingTuesday started in 2012, it has steadily gained attention. Perhaps more importantly, it has been raising more and more money. In 2015, #GivingTuesday raised $116.7 million with 1.08 million total gifts according to The Case Foundation. 2015 also generated 1.3 million #GivingTuesday mentions on social media with 114 billion impressions on Twitter and a Facebook reach of 917,313 users.

It seems the giving holiday has yet to reach its peak. As the organization behind #GivingTuesday announced in a recent email, the event grew by 44 percent in 2016. The org said in 2016, the day raised $168 million (roughly $50 million more than last year), with 1.56 million total gifts. Total social media engagement for 2016 was clocked at 2.4 million mentions.

However, the average gift came in at about $107 for both years. $107.47 in 2015 and a slight increase to $107.69 for 2016.

Though #GivingTuesday has gained popularity, is it worth it for nonprofits to participate in this type of organized giving? Unfortunately, one of #GivingTuesday’s biggest weakness is also its biggest strength: popularity.

#GivingTuesday does generate a lot of buzz, but with so many nonprofits communicating at the same time, it is difficult for your organization to get noticed in all the noise. Though the thought is appreciated, there haven’t been too many nonprofit marketers enthusiastically endorsing #GivingTuesday.

So, the answer to our question is a little of both. #GivingTuesday is worth participating in, but not worth expending a whole lot of energy.

With enough marketing effort, most nonprofits should be able to generate more attention for themselves during a less noisy day of the year. The great thing about #GivingTuesday and days like it is that there is a lot of built-in buzz, so many donors are already primed to contribute a gift.

#GivingTuesday is a weird bit of calculus for nonprofits: A minimal amount of energy can help you capitalize on the buzz without putting in too much effort. A huge campaign can raise a bit more money, but the RIO might be hampered by all the #GivingTuesday noise.

When it comes time for nonprofits to brainstorm their year-end appeal campaigns, they should also keep #GivingTuesday in the back of their mind. Having #GivingTuesday piggyback off the creative of a year-end campaign is a great way to take advantage of the holiday buzz without the potential of wasting too much effort trying to get noticed on such a busy day.

But if you are looking for tips on how to rise above the giving day din, check out the DMA 2017 Washington Nonprofit Conference session “The Giving Movement – Why It’s Not Just About Tuesday.” In the session, the American Heart Association and a panel of marketing execs will talk about out-of-the-box approaches to getting noticed during busy giving days to create new opportunities that will help raise dollars beyond the year-end appeal season.

This article is brought to you by the DMA. Click here to register for Nonprofit Federation Conference, Feb. 22-24, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

Donor-Advised Funds Ushering in a New Era in Charity

In October 2016, The Chronicle of Philanthropy rocked the fundraising world with huge news: For the first time, a nonprofit that administers donor-advised funds had pushed the United Way off its perch as the biggest charity in the U.S.

It was only the second time that United Way wasn’t No. 1 on the publication’s annual ranking of the 400 biggest U.S. charities, based on the amount of money they raised. Since the Philanthropy 400 debuted in 1991, United Way had been in first place, except for the one year when the Salvation Army claimed the top spot.

What’s startling about the 2016 ranking is that a manager of donor-advised funds, Fidelity Charitable, now occupies the philanthropy throne, rather than a traditional charity. Fidelity Charitable’s rise to the top signifies the growing significance of donor-advised funds in charity circles.

At DMA’s 2017 Washington Nonprofit Conference, fundraising consultant Jack Doyle will dive into the subject of donor-advised funds during a session titled, “Fishing For the Big Fish: Donor-Advised Funds.”

In 2015, the biggest fish in donor-advised funds — Fidelity Charitable — collected $4.6 billion in donations, compared with the United Way at $3.7 billion, The Chronicle of Philanthropy says. Fidelity Charitable’s haul dropped the United Way to No. 2 on the Philanthropy 400. Another nonprofit manager of donor-advised funds, Schwab Charitable, is ranked No. 5. Fidelity Charitable and Schwab Charitable are affiliated with the Fidelity and Schwab investment powerhouses.

In large part, Fidelity Charitable has grown so much because it has invested heavily in taking the pain out of online giving, Pamela Norley, president of the donor-advised fund administrator, told The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

“Donor-advised funds are the fastest-growing charitable giving vehicle in the United States because they are one of the easiest and most tax-advantageous ways to give to charity,” Fidelity Charitable says.

As explained by The Chronicle of Philanthropy, a donor-advised fund works much like a charitable savings account; donors receive the same tax benefits they would get with a gift to a food bank or homeless shelter, but the donors’ money often is kept in the fund for many years and invested.

“Although the nonprofit managing the fund technically controls the money, donors recommend which charities should get gifts and when,” The Chronicle of Philanthropy says.

The rising popularity of donor-advised funds is borne out in Fidelity Charitable’s own results: During the first nine months of 2016, it distributed a record-breaking $2.3 billion in donor-recommended charitable grants, up 15 percent from the same period in 2015. Since its founding in 1991, Fidelity Charitable has granted nearly $25 billion to public charities. Today, the average grant is about $4,300.

Administrators of donor-advised funds like Fidelity Charitable and Schwab Charitable could see their assets swell even more in the near future. Money Magazine points out that if President-elect Trump and congressional Republicans make good on promises to cut tax rates, the tax deduction for charitable giving could be watered down as early as 2017. Through a donor-advised fund, a philanthropist can better manage the tax benefits of charitable giving, the magazine says.

As interest in donor-advised funds has intensified, so, too, has scrutiny of them.

A recent report from the Institute for Policy Studies, a liberal think tank, calls for an “urgent reform” of the philanthropy sector to, among other things, “discourage the warehousing of wealth” in donor-advised funds and private foundations.

A harsher critic of donor-advised funds is Ray Madoff, a law professor at Boston College and director of a philanthropy think tank at the college’s law school.

“As donor-advised-fund sponsors are becoming America’s biggest charitable entities, concerns about them become ever more consequential,” Madoff wrote in The Chronicle of Philanthropy. “Most troubling is that there is no evidence that the benefits from these funds are going to the public. Instead, most of the benefits appear to be going to America’s richest people, biggest financial houses and a host of investment advisers across the country.”

Despite the skeptics, donor-advised funds continue to carve out an undeniably bigger piece of the charitable pie. According to a 2016 report from the National Philanthropic Trust:

  • Charitable assets in donor-advised funds increased nearly 12 percent from 2014 to 2015, winding up at $78.64 billion.
  • Contributions to donor-advised funds ticked up 11.4 percent from 2014 to 2015, totaling $22.26 billion.
  • The number of donor-advised accounts rose from 242,390 in 2014 to 269,180 in 2015.

In its report, the National Philanthropic Trust predicts further growth of contributions to donor-advised funds, but probably not at the same torrid pace of recent years — a period when growth was fueled by uncertainty about tax policy, anxiety over the political environment and other market conditions.

Accounts for donor-advised funds now outnumber private foundations by 3 to 1, and the National Philanthropic Trust envisions this trend will continue as donors become more knowledgeable about these funds.

Eileen Heisman, CEO of the National Philanthropic Trust, says donor-advised funds “are a dramatically growing philanthropic vehicle and are being woven into the American way of giving.”

“While the motivations for giving have stayed the same for centuries, the methods have evolved,” Heisman adds. “Today’s donors are highly engaged in their giving. Baby boomers and millennials, in particular, want a close connection to their philanthropy and to track their charitable impact. [Donor-advised funds] provide the flexibility and management donors are seeking.”

This article is brought to you by the DMA. Click here to register for Nonprofit Federation Conference, Feb. 22-24, 2017, in Washington, D.C.