7 Ideas Nabbed from the Bridge Conference

In her continuing series, we welcome special guest, Stelter Editorial Director, Katie Parker.

Fundraisers, marketers and nonprofit professionals converged in Washington, D.C. last week…and for once it wasn’t to lobby. The Bridge Conference (long name “The Bridge to Integrated Marketing and Fundraising Conference”) was an educational gathering with tracks on content marketing, peer-to-peer fundraising, stewardship, acquisition and more.

Our team divvied up the courses to cover ground. Presented here are the ideas that sparked for me.

1. The Donor Has the Keys to Your Car

One of the most prolific themes was that the donor is in charge. Exploration and decision-making, aided by technology, are in the hands of the consumer. The donor journey isn’t fluid or driven by the organization. Instead, brands should aim to inspire and connect, presenting ideas in the channels where the consumer/donor is already spending time.

At the heart of it is narrative flip from: Donors care about my mission and will give to further it.

To the very 2020 idea: Donors have goals and values and my mission aligns with them.

2. When They’re More Than “Supporters”

I dug this nifty idea from the Newseum’s marketing crew: When their donors participated in a specific campaign around First Amendment rights, they were given a new name. No longer “donors,” they were “defenders of the First Amendment.” What a clever way to elevate the status of the people creating change.

3. Are Nonprofits Ready for 2020’s Maelstrom?

(First of all, I’m loving the word “maelstrom,” which means a situation or state of confused movement or violent turmoil.) Held in D.C., it’s no surprise that politics made the conference agenda. More marketing-focused than side-of-the-aisle, the conversation was about the media explosion that will lead up to the 2020 election.

When mailboxes and inboxes and social feeds and airwaves are crowded with candidates, how do nonprofits stand out? My takeaway: We will win with strong, trustworthy brands that (see Idea #1) match our prospects’ mission and values. 

4. Your Value Proposition

A term that struck me was shared by Bruce Mehlman, the leader of a bipartisan firm: Woke capitalism. The stat he shared was that 57% of millennials will stop buying a product if it doesn’t align with their values.

What an opportunity for nonprofits! Value-alignment (again, see Idea #1) will be a key driver for the next generation of givers. Fail to align, and more than half of those under 40 will pass on your brand.

5. Micro Is the New Macro

The concepts of hyper-personalization and microsegments were everywhere. Digital and social are again influencing expectations: You should know me, our consumer demands. Far more than name, age, wealth and affinity, these are the psychographic characteristics that dictate decision-making and make up the whole person.

The takeaway? List-segmentation isn’t a nice to do. It’s a have to do.

An aside here is a very powerful statement: Everybody is not your target audience.

6. Is Your Need Known?

Stelter has worked with a few brands whose core problem was that prospects didn’t see them as a nonprofit. The Smithsonian shared that sentiment. Their presenter projected a photo of a donation box in the lobby of one of their 19 museums. There was very little green inside. The lack of dollars reflected visitors’ opinion that the Smithsonian didn’t need their help.

In contrast, the presenter discussed PBS’s messaging. Does the phrase “Funded in part by viewers like you” ring in your ears? For generations, PBS has reiterated that there’s a need and an ask associated with their product.

So when it’s time for you to make the ask, have you established the need?

7. Planned Giving Giggle

Planned giving professionals will likely chuckle at this unintentionally catchy nugget shared by a marketer at Peta, “We all have a will. It’s called the U.S. government.”

I might borrow that line in a future blog.

We’d love to hear about a session that inspired you at the Bridge Conference! Blockchain, social media, generational differences…what was your key takeaway?

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