BSD@Events: What we heard at DMA’s 2018 Washington Nonprofit Conference

The 2018 conference circuit is in full swing! Last week, several Blue State Digital staff from our New York and D.C. offices attended the 2018 Nonprofit Conference, hosted by the DMA Nonprofit Federation. After last year’s great conference in Chicago, we wouldn’t miss a chance to speak to and learn from our peers in the nonprofit space.

Here were a few major themes from the sessions we attended (and led):

Mid-level donors present a huge opportunity for nonprofits

Our Senior Digital Analyst Orwin Evenson spoke with our partners UNICEF and Target MarkeTeam about cultivating mid-level donors in our session, “Welcome to the VIP Room.” Mid-level donors — those who give between $1,000 and $10,000 — often do not receive the high-touch “major donor” treatment, but can also be under-served by mass-market communications geared towards the grassroots. In our session, we discussed when and how to fold mid-level donors into existing programs and when to create content specific to this cohort, and how to measure success. 

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However, we weren’t the only ones. There were multiple sessions on how to strengthen relationships with these donors across direct mail, telemarketing, and, of course, digital.

Every organization needs to be rapid-response ready

Despite best-laid plans, the missions of many nonprofits will require them to respond to real-time events. In an age of social media and news push alerts, how can you set up your organization to respond to what’s happening in a timely fashion? Does a successful response time need to be measured in minutes or hours, not days?

Your organization should be setting up workflows and structures that move creative through production and approval more quickly than ever. To facilitate this, agencies need to be treated and behave as partners, not vendors.

Mission-driven marketing is more important than ever

The conference’s keynote speech, as well as several other sessions, reminded us to not take our line of work for granted. Many of us at non-profit and progressive organizations have backgrounds working on advocacy issues or on campaigns, so it’s easy to forget that the majority of people who care deeply about forging a better society don’t also get to devote their livelihoods to fighting for the cause.


Are you looking for a like-minded partner to help your organization raise money? Let’s talk about it.


Also published on Medium.