5 Key Takeaways from AFP Icon 2022

It’s been a long two years or so, but joining the AFP Icon in Las Vegas this week made it all feel like home again. Industry peers interacted, networked, and shared thoughts, perspectives and strategies for what they are most passionate about -- the art of fundraising. From personalization and digital strategies to DEI (Diversity, Equity + Inclusion) and leading edge technology, the focus remained the same–the donor experience.

It’s always powerful to engage with industry peers to embrace new thinking but it is also fulfilling to reinforce what we know and validate what we are integrating into our strategies. Included are just a few of the many points that resonated with me, so I wanted to share. 

  1. Personalization: The pandemic changed our lives as donors, fundraisers and consumers. We now live in a world where we curate our experiences –and expect those who want to engage with us to make those experiences meaningful and easy. The way to do so is data + dialogue. Leverage your data in a way that empowers you to identify your target donor audience [i.e. new donors, lapsed donors], share relevant stories and organizational updates, and engage in their preferred channels. [Psssst. Did you know that GivingDNA has many features to help you do just this?]

  2. Data informed. Mission Driven.  Many of us refer to building data-driven strategies but I agree that we should emphasize the importance of staying ‘mission driven’, while using data to inform, segment, and build programs. Data can be daunting to many fundraisers, but it doesn't have to be. Start simple. Assess the information you have, identify what you’re missing, and explore how you can augment your data with additional third-party data that would make it robust and easy to use. Then, communicate, share stories, and expand your community based on your organization's mission.

  3. Social Donors. Donor behavior is transitioning from social distancing to continued social giving. Will this trend continue? All evidence points to YES. According to The Giving Experience by OneCause, the number of Social Donors who self-report they will give monthly or annually increased to 47 percent this year, up from 28 percent in 2018. Feeling like their donation made a difference and an easy giving experience are the most important factors driving repeat gifts.

  4. 50 is the new 40. Historically, Boomers were considered the strongest donor segment, due to giving capacity, lifetime value, and deeper relationships with the organization. Well, times have changed and younger generations are making an impact. Industry data shows that Millennials are giving the same, if not more on an annual and monthly basis. The top types of nonprofits to which they are giving are children’s health, health, social service orgs, animal rescue, and emergency relief.

  5. DEI-Driven Fundraising is a Continuum. The changing culture of America has created a wave of change in the nature of donors and their expectations of an organization. Fundraisers need to address the need for inclusion and approach it in a truly authentic manner. A fundraising message should not marginalize a nonprofit’s constituents. Rather, the stories they tell should depict whole persons, not just their needs. One of my favorite quotes is… “Difference is enriching, not diminishing. Diversity is a necessary condition for life.”

Well, this is just the tip of the learning iceberg. I am full of inspiration and new ideas…and certainly full of gratitude. Thanks @AFPIcon for bringing us together and delivering such a positive experience. Till next time… 

But, the conversation doesn't end here. Our team of strategists, analysts, marketers, and fundraisers are ready to chat, but most importantly, help you succeed in this ever-evolving landscape. Let’s connect