5 Key Takeaways from 2017 DMANF Conference


I recently attended the 2017 DMA Nonprofit Federation, Nonprofit Conference (#DCNP2017) last week in Washington, DC and below are a few of my key takeaways:

1. Messaging in the age of Trump:

With increased competition for share of wallet and the threat of losing federal funding, many not-for-profits are already struggling on a number of fronts and there is a fear that the general political environment will “trump” donors’ charitable spirits. Increasingly, not-for-profits will need to hone their messaging in order to break through the noise and remain relevant. Our Message Filter tool is designed for this purpose – check out our whitepaper on this topic.

2. Charities need to give donors a reason to belong.

This is now more important than ever. Americans are looking for a sense of community, belonging and reassurance in these uncertain times. We have done extensive research on this topic that demonstrates that giving donors a reason to belong will help to overcome ambivalence and engender long-lasting emotional connections and loyalty. See my blog posts for more information about overcoming ambivalence through a sense of belonging.

3. Balancing emotional connection with rational facts.

This was presented during the session “Storytelling with Data” and case studies from Capital Caring and Greenpeace. In order to attract new donors, charities need to appeal to both the head and the heart. The heart is key for inspirations/connection and the head is key for trust. Charities need both – in the right proportions, at the right time, and through the right channel – in order to optimize impact. A strong campaign testing solution evaluates both sides of the equation and the effectiveness to which the brand “story” is being heard.

4. The struggle to build engagement and loyalty is real.

From Kn Moy’s presentation “Baby Boomer Breakthrough: The Next-Gen Fundraising Model,” we heard that 75% of first time donors never give another gift after their first donation and that for every 100 new donors gained, the sector lost 103. These numbers support the fact that traditional tactical approaches are not enough. Shifts with demographics and technology mean we must change the way we build real relationships with donors, especially if we want them to be loyal.

5. Whoever understands people first, wins.

This message was clearly conveyed during the opening address of the conference. Donors don’t want to feel like ATM’s. Not-for-profit’s need to move their communications, solicitations and relationships beyond transactional. People want to engage with the organization and to feel like they are part of the solution. Many organizations are leveraging donor insight communities as a resource to gain deep and actionable insights on a continuous and evolving basis.

Maru/Matchbox’s Not-for-Profit practice is the leader in building donor engagement and loyalty through full service online communities. For more information about our solutions, please reach out to sales@marumatchbox.com.

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