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Friday, September 28, 2018

Everything’s Bigger in Texas: The Nonprofit Optimization and Innovation Summit

If you’re in the nonprofit space, you know the fated truth about the sector: there is a nonprofit conference for anything. Belong in a nonprofit federation? Check. Looking for direct marketing? Done. Have a desire to learn about nonprofit technology? It’s there. 

But having been in the sector for several years, I’ve only heard of one tried and true summit devoted to focusing on the best and brightest on nonprofit marketing (and to help nonprofits grow, test, learn, expand, and develop). In two days. In Texas. The Nonprofit Innovation and Optimization Summit. 

This year, Charity Navigator was invited to attend the 2018 NIO Summit to discuss the awesome stories that are fed through the beautiful San Antonio venue of the Aztec Theatre. As a nonprofit marketer myself, one of the first sessions stuck out to me. Jamie Blomquist of Google’s Marketing Solutions presented on “Forward Fundraising - Aligning Strategy and Spend with Changing Behavior.” If you’ve gotten this far in my blog post, and don’t happen to work for a nonprofit, this post is for you, too. 

While Blomquist walked through an extensive data set about nonprofit marketing, especially online, her entire session pointed to one core concept: the way we market to young people has to meet them where they are and resonate with what they believe in. Something we all relate to is the poignant analogy Blomquist used when pivoting to discussing fundraising, and donor, behavior was about “nomophobia.” 

She cited that usually it takes 56 minutes to report a missing phone but over a day to report a missing wallet. So… nonprofits should be reaching users and donors with the tools we have. Increasingly, our donations and transactions are occurring on mobile and online: but 84% of donation pages aren’t mobile friendly. The mobile experience is crucial to understand how to reach individuals and nonprofits across the board.

While direct mailings are great for brand awareness, they often aren’t doing much for the younger generations who prefer to engage online. When considering a charity to connect with Blomquist mentioned that she wouldn’t donate to 75% of the nonprofits who send her mailers, because they send her mailers. Being more intentional about the way we speak with nonprofits, and the way we, as nonprofits, speak with our potential donors, is crucial. 

As we continue to navigate the digital technology framework of the 21st century, our use of technology will only grow. It’s up to us to determine how we can best operate in a digital framework, while helping our communities, without taking away from other resources that expand the impact of the nonprofits in our communities, as a whole.

Written by Sara Nason, Head of Consumer Innovation and Engagement at Charity Navigator.

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