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.

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.

Questions nonprofits should ask before starting an email list

A strong email list can be the lifeblood of your nonprofit organization.

A robust list can help you rally volunteers for an important event, summon donors during times of critical fundraising and keep you connected to your strongest supporters.

With email marketing being such a powerful tool, many organizations start collecting email contacts before they think about how they will use those digital addresses in the future.

Sure, it can be tempting to collect address first and ask questions later. However, that impulse can create much trouble for an organization down the line, and can even create a few problems right away.  

Before you start gathering emails, think about how you will be using those contacts and why your organization wants them. The more information you have figured out about your list, the better. That info will inform how you will promote your list, where you should recruit and the messaging used to convince people to sign up.

Without a clear value proposition, you might find it difficult to get sign-ups beyond your most die-hard fans. Why should someone sign up for a list if they don’t know what they are getting themselves into?

So, figure out exactly what use you have for this list. Is it a newsletter to keep people up-to-date on your nonprofit’s latest happenings? Will the list be used to recruit and retain volunteers, or will it be used to solicit donations during an annual fund drive?

Also, figure out how often you will be sending the email. Will it be sent out at regular intervals or will it be sent out sporadically? Will it be a daily update or a quarterly call for donations? Maybe the email will come out before and after park cleanup days that your organization holds every few months.

Try to come up with a focused objective for you list. Another tempting shortcut is to say you will use one list to achieve all your marketing goals. But a list with a broad objective will also find difficulty recruiting and retaining members.

Though similar, your organization needs different contributions from volunteers and donors, and the same broader message won’t be as effective as two specific messages to each group. If recipients get too many emails they feel aren’t directed at them, they will eventually unsubscribe.

Retaining list members can be just as difficult as recruiting them in the first place. Figuring out as much as you can about your list before you start gathering addresses is the best way to set it up for long-term success. Letting people know up front what they are signing up for will make them a lot less likely to drop out later.

Lists without clear objectives tend to morph over time. They go from newsletters to donor-asks to a hodgepodge of disconnected emails. And when people feel like they are getting something different from what they signed up for, that is when they start unsubscribing.

For more best practices and list-building strategies, check out the DMA’s Washington Nonprofit Conference. Dixie Clough, digital projects specialist for the Smithsonian Office of Advancement, will be presenting “Unrelenting, Totally Awesome and EFFECTIVE List Building.

This article is brought to you by the DMA. Click here to register for Nonprofit Federation Conference, Feb. 18-19, 2016, in Washington, D.C.

Should Nonprofits Focus on Facebook to Drive Conversions?

It’s been just over a decade since Facebook started recruiting college kids to write on virtual walls and poke one another.

Since then, the company has changed a lot: It has gained billions of dollars in value as well as a hefty increase in active users. However, dozens of other competitors have come on the scene. Facebook has certainly evolved over the years, so is it still the best place for nonprofits to reach potential audiences or should organizations concentrate on other forms of media to reach people?

Looking at the numbers, Facebook still has an impressive lead on its competition with 1.01 billion daily active users (DAU) and 1.55 billion monthly active users (MAU) according to the company’s own reporting as of Sept. 2015.

Instagram (owned by Facebook) says it has 400 million MAU and Twitter reports it has about 320 million MAU. And it is reported back in May that upstart Snapchat has 100 million DAU.

Though Facebook has certainly gained popularity among users, that means it has also become a popular space for advertisers. People’s Facebook feeds have certainly gotten crowded, and sponsored content is now common: Facebook reported $4.3 billion in ad revenue for Q3 of 2015.

Despite the crowded marketplace, Facebook is still a great place to connect with possible supporters. According to a Marketing Land study, Facebook desktop ads have an 8.1x higher click-through rate on desktop and 9.1x better mobile CTR than normal Web ads.

Facebook also offers a very open platform for serving your messages. Unlike more closed-off networks such as Instagram and Snapchat, it’s easy for Web or mobile surfers to follow links on and off Facebook. That makes it easier to convert potential supporters and channel them onto your website to get them to sign up for newsletters or follow donation funnels. Facebook also plays nice with other social networks, making it easy to push messages to or from other platforms.

Out of all the social media networks, Facebook has carved out a place for businesses to exist. Pages allow for nonprofits and organizations to share much information about themselves and point users outside of the social network. Though other networks have given businesses a voice on their platforms, they are still much more geared toward private citizens.

Facebook also has a good amount of reach among different audiences and devices and allows organizations to have a lot of control when it comes to who they want to reach. Facebook also boasts 1.39 billion mobile MAU compared to its total 1.55 billion MAU. This allows organizations to have a great deal of flexibility when it comes to reaching potential supporters either on mobile and desktop.

Facebook gives organizations a large amount of control in the demographics and geography of their audience. Twitter is great for having a more national or global conversation, and Snapchat has become the one of newest places for friends to privately connect. But Facebook is great for building local or national support and letting organizations concentrate on what they want to build.

Though it is getting crowded, Facebook is still one of the best platforms for nonprofits to connect with potential supporters and other organizations. It still has the largest user base of all the social media networks, and its flexibility allows organizations the ability to use communications strategies that work for them. Facebook’s openness also allows it to be the focusing point for your online advertising efforts while drive traffic to other sites to help you convert potential supporters.

For more on making the most out of Facebook see the session “Taking the Next Step: Using Facebook to Drive Conversions.”

This article is brought to you by the DMA. Click here to register for Nonprofit Federation Conference, Feb. 18-19, 2016, in Washington, D.C