Takeaways From DMA’s 2017 Chicago Nonprofit Conference

Last week, BSDers headed to the Windy City for the 2017 Chicago Nonprofit Conference, hosted by the Data & Marketing Association (DMA). The DMA is a community of data innovators and creative marketers championing deeper consumer engagement and business value.

The conference brought together professionals from around the world to discuss tried-and-true and next-level fundraising techniques. Our own Orwin Evenson and Dan Thain spoke about monthly donor programs and the importance of using psychographics as a targeting tool, respectively. Other members of the BSD team attended to listen and learn.


Below are some of our team’s takeaways from the conference:

Orwin Evenson
Senior Digital Analyst

What struck me was the importance of integrating online and offline efforts. Channels are rarely eliminated; they just get out of date if you don’t use them in the right way. Right now digital seems like the big dog, but we need to make sure we’re leveraging other channels to support online efforts — for example, following up on a lapsed monthly donor via telemarketing, or sending a postcard to follow-up on a site visit — to build truly robust fundraising programs.

Dan Thain
Creative Director

It’s always exciting to be with a smart group of folks who are passionate about doing good for the world. There was a lot of great conversation around tactical optimizations, but I wanted to see more discussion around big, inspirational creative ideas. Tactics can get you only so far.

Rachel Quintner-Ward
Vice President, Business Development

It still surprises me how many large nonprofits have very lean digital and email teams. I spoke with several huge organizations who only have one or two people in digital. I also noted that organizations are seeing a ton of success with planned giving via Facebook acquisition — Facebook has become the number one source of acquisition for some orgs.

Katherine Mackenzie
Vice President, Accounts

+1 on the planned giving success from social! Facebook audiences are older than people assume, and it was interesting to see the extensive modeling folks are able to map to planned giving targets on Facebook. Also, organizations investing in their mid-level programs seem to be seeing great results — a branded program is better than unbranded; ceilings for mid-level programs are increasing ($25k is the new normal); and organizations are breaking down silos to let people more easily move between low-dollar, mid-level, and major / planned giving.


Want to apply some of this thinking to your fundraising or advocacy program? Drop us a line.