My colleague Todd Barzilay and I recently returned from the 2016 Bridge Conference, an event that brings together marketing professionals and non-profit organizations to learn more about using direct response marketing for fundraising efforts. IWCO Direct has partnered with several non-profits over the years, and this event was a great opportunity to learn about the current challenges fundraisers are looking to overcome. I also have a personal connection to non-profit work. I’ve worked with several non-profit organizations to develop donors, raise funds and improve membership acquisition. With that said, I wanted to share some of what we learned at this unique and informative event.
The Spirit of the 2016 Bridge Conference
More than 1,800 attendees came together to focus on the non-profit space this year – the largest attendance in Bridge Conference history! There were hundreds of sessions to choose from, which were segmented into different tracks focused on digital strategies and tactics, neuromarketing, integrating marketing channels, data analytics, targeting new audiences – and, of course, direct mail.
There was definitely a charitable spirit in the air; in general, participants and speakers were very transparent and collaborative with information that addressed key questions. Through the pre-conference workshop on direct mail I was able to get a feel for the concerns and challenges specifically facing non-profits when developing and managing direct mail campaign strategies.
Issues That Got Everyone Talking
There are several challenges facing non-profit direct marketers today. Charitable giving as a whole was down roughly 13% in 2015. Marketers are continually tasked with finding successful strategies to reactivate lapsed donors, extend donor retention and increase donors’ average gift and frequency of donation.
While 80% of fundraising is still generated through direct mail, a heavy percentage of marketers are exploring multichannel marketing efforts. Most agreed they haven’t been successful yet in integrating various marketing channels to maximize their success. This presents a perfect opportunity for non-profit professionals and their direct marketing partners to collaborate on more successful multichannel fundraising strategies.
The conference also brought attention to a common issue facing marketers using personalized, paper-based marketing. As variable data printing technology continues to improve in quality, speed and version complexity, marketers are still struggling to address how to utilize this new innovation. While digital production workflows open new doors that allow marketers to target specific prospects with highly-targeted messages, minimize obsolete inventory and optimize postage spend, developing a deep understanding of data sets and how to best utilize them in order to build out an effective and targeted campaign seems to be a key challenge.
A key challenge for me is recapping all of the great information from the 2016 Bridge Conference in one blog post. I know my limits so I’ll leave you with this teaser to entice you to come back on Tuesday to read Part 2: Fundraising shouldn’t be “something you learn on the street.” I’ll tell you who said it and talk about the hot button issues in fundraising marketing. See you then!
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