Last week, I shared a few thoughts about the experience Todd Barzilay and I had at the DMAW 2016 Bridge Conference, a gathering that connected marketing professionals with non-profit organizations. As it turns out, there was a lot to discuss from the conference – so much that I left last week’s article on a bit of a cliffhanger in anticipation of this one!
We learned a lot at this year’s conference, and the various sessions and presentations revealed that direct marketing – when done with the proper mix of strategy, data and creative – can be an invaluable fundraising tool. Read on for the final highlights of the 2016 Bridge Conference, including challenges facing non-profit marketers, co-op data and neuromarketing.
Fundraising Shouldn’t Be “Something You Learn on the Street”
The 2016 Bridge Conference keynote speaker, David Rubenstein, co-founder and co-CEO of the Carlyle Group – one of the world’s largest private equity firms – spoke about his role as an American financier and philanthropist. He joined the Giving Pledge alongside the likes of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, promising to give away most of his $3.1 billion-dollar fortune during his lifetime to numerous organizations.
Rubenstein enlightened attendees with his theories on how to encourage generosity and nurture donor relationships. He encouraged the audience to truly listen to the donor and reminded the crowd of how difficult fundraising is. He left the audience with a big question: “Why are there no courses in fundraising? It should be an academic discipline rather than something you learn on the street.”
Hot-Button Issues in Fundraising Marketing
The speakers at the conference drove home a very straightforward point: Direct response marketing is absolutely essential to building a broad base of donors. Truly focusing in on your donors and your data are essential to developing the right acquisition strategy. Several sessions dove a little deeper into analyzing lifetime value and cautioned marketers to test strategically and be patient in making any drastic decisions with initial test results.
Co-op data (merging your customer data with other direct marketers’ data) was another hot-button issue touched on at the 2016 Bridge Conference, with many attendees asking similar questions about the practice. “Is it worth it?” “When does it make sense to have everyone fishing from the same pool?” “How is it regulated?” Some non-profits utilize multiple sets of data while others keep their house file closer to their vest. Ultimately, presenters concluded that the value of co-op data can only be determined by the individual non-profits using it as they evaluate lifetime value.
Direct Mail Conveys Emotion, and Emotion Elicits Response
I also attended a fascinating session on neuromarketing, particularly as it applies to encouraging someone to donate to a cause by appealing to their emotions. According to the session, most of our choices are unconscious and developed based on what we believe rather than what we think or know.
The session suggested that most of what we believe is developed when we’re children and can seem more real than what facts tell us. We can read, hear and understand statistical data, but we respond to stories and pictures (for example, images of babies are pretty popular in terms of emotional response). In particular, direct mail with printed images engages more of an emotional response than similar information presented through digital channels, so it’s no surprise that direct mail is the workhorse in acquiring and cultivating loyal donors for non-profits.
With a large audience and a wide variety of topics, I was impressed by how the 2016 Bridge Conference connected fundraisers with the marketers and solutions necessary for success in the non-profit sector. Contact me if you would like more information on the 2016 Bridge Conference or how IWCO Direct can help with your fundraising efforts.
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