All the things from AFP ICON 2019

on April 10, 2019

Oh San Antonio. How we love thee. Your Tex-Mex, your cowboy boots, your conference halls. In short, we had a great time at the show this year. We descended on the AFP ICON 2019 conference equipped with matching tee shirts, a selfie station, and a strong craving for tacos

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Didn’t make it to Texas? No worries… we’ve got a full recap of everything we learned and what inspired us. Read on and you’ll feel like you were right there with us sharing some queso.

1. Make impact front and center

More than ever before, donors are aligning themselves personally with the causes that they support. “Consumers recognize that the dollars they spend are a reflection of their values, politics, or choices,” said Carrie Johnson, during her session at AFP ICON, 5 trends shaping the future of events.

Before they give, many potential donors are now doing their own due diligence, with 70% of donors who research financial information before giving saying they look into an organization’s efficiency, and 50% saying they look for more information about their impact. So, rather than make them dig for the information, put the impact of your organization at the center of your communications.

‘70% of donors research financial information before giving’

If you’re a local organization, show supporters that their gifts are staying in the community by featuring personal messaging and showcasing local influencers.

Be vocal about issues that are near and dear to your mission. Not only does it build trust — something that is seriously stagnant between nonprofits and donors since the early 2000s — but it may also encourage supporters to give. (Research says 65% of consumers will not buy from a brand if it stayed silent on an issue that they felt it had an obligation to address.)

2. Engage younger donors through mobile

As younger generations become a higher percentage of donors, mobile responsiveness will only continue to become more important.


Percentage of generational donors willing to give via mobile device
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Source

But it’s not enough to have a mobile friendly website. Young donors want seamless technology that is mobile-first. That means that your site should be fully responsive (which is something that Google wants too and will reward you for), and should be an overall simple experience for your users.

Even donation forms should be optimized and well designed. “This is a donor that has grown up in the Apple age. Design is not a differentiator - it’s the cost of entry,” said Rachel Clemens in her session, The donors of tomorrow: Effective ways to engage young donors.

This likely means customizing your off-the-shelf donation platform, as well as the overall experience so that it fits well with your brand.


inBlog_2_TicketingCrowdRise by GoFundMe is a mobile-optimized fundraising platform that allows nonprofits to be in full control of their brand. With the ability to create customized campaign pages, add logos and imagery, as well as choose theme and button colors, nonprofits are able to seamlessly represent their brand on a platform that is fully mobile-responsive and beautiful.


3. Offer up a monthly giving experience

Speaking of Millennials and Gen X, there are few things that these generations love more than a good subscription service. From clothes and shaving supplies to home-cooked meals and jerky clubs - you can get just about anything in a monthly installment nowadays. And donations to your favorite cause should be no different.

If you’re not already offering a monthly giving experience to your supporters, this is the perfect time to start. “On average, monthly donors give 7X more money than one-time donors,” said Pamela Grow in her session, Your donor retention toolkit.

If you’re starting a recurring donation program for the first time, make sure you have someone at your organization who can own the program and be committed to its success. Some other best practices include:
  • Give the supporters in your recurring donor program a name (champions, ambassadors, rockstars, mom’s favorites, super troopers, etc.)
  • Set ‘recurring’ as the default gift type for your online donation forms
  • Translate a monthly gift into a tangible outcome (“$5/mo gives a dog a month’s worth of food, $10/mo gives a dog a month’s worth of food and a toy, etc.”)

4. Create a policy for supporter acknowledgements

Nonprofits hear over and over again how important it is to call out and thank their supporters. But if you have a small fundraising team, thanking every $5 donor on Facebook, or calling every first-time event registrant could easily become your entire full-time job. Plus, if you get ten $10 donations and one $100k donation, how do you acknowledge and thank that $100k donor in a way that shows your appreciation, without making the $10 donor feel like their contribution wasn’t worthwhile? The answer to both problems is the same: a donation acknowledgement policy.

Every nonprofit, no matter the size, should have a policy that outlines the different donation thresholds for different acknowledgements. That policy could be all-encompassing or per-platform; whatever plan you set in place, just make sure that it is outlined, so that you are not having the acknowledgement conversation every time a new donation comes in.

Also, don’t feel like your acknowledgements also have to come in the same style. “Younger donors crave Instagram-worthy acknowledgements (a personalized video, or an Instagram shout out), so get creative on the platforms where your younger donors are most likely to give, and keep it traditional for traditional donation methods,” said Rachel Clemens in her Donors of tomorrow session.

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5. Don’t just host an event, host an experience

If your want your nonprofit to be unique and authentic, you need to determine how you can pull deeper enrichment opportunities out of your events and provide them to attendees. The easiest place to start? The actual space or location where you plan to host your event.

“85% of millennials value experiences over material goods, and over 50% of travelers say that their favorite part of travel is hidden places only known by locals,” said Carrie Johnson in her Five trends shaping the future of events session.

So leverage geography as unique experience in your event. A city or a location can be an active character in your event, and you can take it one step further by letting the community itself play an important role in the event. “Consumers aren’t just looking to taste local cuisine, but learn to cook it themselves. They’re not just looking to meet the locals, but actually live with them and experience their everyday lives.”

6. Take pride in your fundraising efforts - and so will your fundraisers

Many nonprofits have learned to tiptoe around the word “fundraising” because, to some supporters, “it’s a dirty word.” The “F word” in their heads equal people who are going to be greedy and ask for money. But rather than approach the topic of fundraising carefully, be loud and proud about what an honor it is.

Let supporters and potential fundraisers know what a privilege fundraising can be. “I am so thankful that I get to fundraise on this amazing organizations behalf,” said one fundraiser during the session Challenging fundraising discussions, when asked how she approaches weary donors. “I share how honored I am that I get to help reach out to new networks, share the charity’s mission, and help them see it through. They are so focused on doing amazing, world-changing work, and I get to help match donors to the mission. It’s not just about fundraising."

Be proud of the efforts that your charity is making, and the impact your supporters have had on your cause so far. If you take pride in the work you are doing, your supporters and fundraisers will want to do the same.

Rilee Chastain

Rilee Chastain is the Content Marketing Specialist at CrowdRise. She is passionate about content optimization and all things social, and cares way too much about her Instagram aesthetic. She also has a life goal to eat mac and cheese at least 3 times a week.

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