The 2020 Association of National Advertisers (ANA) DC Nonprofit Conference brought together hundreds of fundraising professionals from across the country to learn about the latest trends, innovations, successes and challenges facing today’s nonprofit organizations.

This year’s presenters addressed several hot topics ranging from acquisition to social media to cultivation. Members of the Schultz & Williams Direct Response team took away the following top seven learnings from their three days in our nation’s capital.

  1. Don’t stop mail acquisition in an election year!
    Based on eight years of historical data, mail acquisition performs just as strong—if not stronger depending on the sector—than non-election years, and the donors tend to become long-term supporters!
  2. Facebook Fundraisers should not be ignored.
    Despite the lack of available donor contact information, new strategies are being developed to connect and communicate with the fundraiser hosts. Engage with these fundraising advocates who care deeply about your mission.
  3. Rethink your measures of success.
    As the number of donors continues to trend down and average gift continues to trend up, organizations should consider donor quality, retention and lifetime value as important measures of success.
  4. Channel migration continues to make gift attribution difficult.
    Measure campaign success in totality, not by unique channel. Continue to integrate as many channels as possible balanced against campaign ROI.
  5. Sustainer programs are more important than ever.
    Donors are becoming increasingly comfortable making monthly gifts—even older donors! A multi-channel approach for sustainers, including digital, telemarketing and mail efforts, can help build and cultivate a successful program. Don’t forget to upgrade existing monthly donors every year by suggesting they increase their monthly gift amount! And if you can, make electronic fund transfer (EFT) an option for monthly donors!!
  6. Stewarding, cultivating and upgrading donors has become increasingly important, especially as the number of donors has been trending down over the last couple of years.
    For organizations who have not yet focused on mid-level giving, now is the perfect time. Resources, especially human resources, should be devoted to an organization’s mid-level audiences to deepen connections with those donors and to move as many as possible through the pipeline to higher levels of giving.
  7. Start planning for year-end 2020 now!
    With last year’s successes (and failures) still top of mind and results analysis finally complete, it’s the perfect time to start building out plans for this coming fall. Keep what worked and build in fresh testing for continued improvement, but be ready to pivot if there’s a sudden event that warrants rapid response. The upcoming summer months are also the ideal time to take care of some data hygiene. Cleaning up donor files, especially email lists, will improve response and ensure your carefully crafted year-end messaging doesn’t get lost in the spam folder.

Special Content: The Roadmap to Recovery

As nonprofits everywhere face unprecedented challenges, S&W is stepping forward to help—working on rapid response strategies with our clients, curating resources for easy access, offering answers from our expert team, and bringing people together from across the nonprofit world to share ideas. The point, as we say, is Powering Missions That Matter—now at the moment they matter most.

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