Overheard at NTC 2017 – “We Can’t Stay on the Sidelines”

This year’s Nonprofit Technology Conference drew a highly engaged audience and forward-thinking group of nonprofit and technology thought leaders – certainly a positive sign of the times that our industry has made waves in understanding, and planning for more comprehensive digital and technology-driven strategies. All three days of NTEN’s annual event left some compelling messages for us all to think about, from inspiring action and advocacy during these politically charged times, to understanding what channels are now a must to play in, and what systems we need as support.

Rather than a long form piece, we decided to take this time to highlight some of the most interesting soundbites from the 2017 NTC. So, here you have it: this is #OverheardatNTC!

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What we heard: Make the experience more personal

While it’s never been more important to drive and inspire action through very intentional messaging, it’s also never been more critical to inspire action from the individual. People are fueled by more passion for their causes than ever right now, which means tailoring the experience will create even more reason for them to take immediate action. Dive into testing and audience development tactics. Remember, having an integrated approach doesn’t just mean being integrated across marketing channels, but also maintaining a holistic understanding of your supporters. Be intentional, and personal!

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What we heard: Rapid response requires extreme preparation

With all of the happenings since Inauguration Day, different moments in time around policy changes, news announcements and media behavior in general have resulted in a new breed of giving days. Nonprofits must have the adequate systems, staff and strategy in place in order to respond quickly to the different issues flooding our donors’ lives; but, this is no small task! We heard about how political campaigns prepare for massive iterations and possibilities – while this level of iteration can be challenging for nonprofits, we should still prepare for, and develop appropriate responses for different audiences. We must be more culturally aware and operationally nimble than ever!

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What we heard: Email is NOT dead!

In fact, email is the place where most engagement tends to happen with supporters. With bold, clear calls to action, email can become one of your highest converting channels, where a donor can opt to volunteer, share content on social and donate. Particularly for donors who respond well to email messaging, the channel can become a moment-driven tactic to respond to different changes in the political or social landscape, and encourage more immediate action from your donors and constituents. The important thing to remember is to make the experience as frictionless as possible!

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What we heard: We cannot stay on the sidelines

“Strong stances in this ideological era are less risky than saying nothing.” This was an extremely powerful message, as Americans continue to see how the current administration ultimately impacts the causes that they identify with. For nonprofits, understanding that now is not the time to “sit this one out”, also comes with a balance of appearing inspirational and positive, versus off-message. Find ways to experiment with your messaging and CTA’s; but more importantly, stay true to your brand, you mission, your story and your donors. Doing something new and different can certainly spark increased engagement and more visibility to new audiences, but be careful not to alienate existing loyal audiences.

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