Belardi Wong’s 4th Annual Fundraising Summit: Adapting to Shifting Trends with Key Commercial Best Practices & Changing Non-Profit Strategies

Belardi Wong hosted its 4th annual fundraising summit at the historic Whittemore House in Washington D.C. on Thursday, September 27. This intimate event included clients from both agencies and non-profit organizations. 

Several executives from Belardi Wong’s New York City headquarters, including President Donna Belardi, as well as the CEO from one of the premier fundraising agencies, shared relevant material from the retail and non-profit industries with the goal that there would be key takeaways for fundraising today.

At the close of the event, one thing was clear: with the dramatic shifts in donor file makeup and behavior, commercial marketing best practices are applicable to marketing in the fundraising industry. At Belardi Wong, we work with over 300 retail and non-profit clients to augment their marketing strategies and because of this, our fundraising division is uniquely positioned to immediately implement the gains and tactics shared on the commercial side.  

Here are some of the key takeaways from the summit:

Ageless multi-generational marketing is key.

An ageless audience is an incredibly popular phenomenon. This is the idea that age is a mindset and if your message or goal is clear, your brand will appeal to a wider range of individuals. Like commercial brands, many non-profit organizations are looking to expand with Gen Xers and Millennials. Keeping ‘ageless’ in mind, leverage various marketing tactics to keep your brand story real and authentic, and your marketing mix fresh.

Digital integration is critical. Think omnichannel.

Thinking ‘omnichannel’ is no longer a recommendation - it is a best practice. Commercial brands and non-profit organizations alike are going the extra mile with community and national events; they are getting more intimate with their customers or donors. Utilizing co-ops and the data provided across channels, commercial brands and non-profit organizations continue to grow their file size. Commercial brands as well as many nonprofits are focusing on augmenting their file size with email capture, and identity resolution is the end goal. Today, being able to track your prospect, customer or donor through every channel they use is invaluable.

Direct Mail is an essential part of the marketing mix.

We are in the midst of a transformation in creative for commercial mailers. As a 20-year-old direct marketing and creative firm, we have observed that direct mail best practices have shifted. With our commercial clients, we are seeing two times the response rate than we did in the past with fewer pages and less density. Many of these clients are having success with changing up the creative (catalogs, post cards, roll folds, trifolds, etc.). On the non-profit side, organizations are looking to connect with a multi-generational audience. Keeping this new goal in mind, reaching different audiences requires specific creative pieces. Today, the frequency of a similar message must be delivered in a multitude of ways based on who you are trying to reach.

Fail fast and move on.

With social media and influencer marketing, digital integration and transforming creative best practices, it is important to test, assess and learn and keep it moving. At the summit, a case study about an organization switching up their creative was shared. In this non-profit’s case, it was a fail. This is going to happen, and you have to be okay with it. This non-profit discovered that their donors responded better to the control package and reverted back to that. Brands in all industries are focusing on testing, and retesting. Learn as much about your prospect or customer as you can, and then identify the marketing tactics that are working for both them and you.

These are just some of the ideas that were discussed at Belardi Wong’s 4th Annual Fundraising Summit. We had one goal in mind: to ignite new thoughts and ideas that may facilitate new marketing strategies for non-profits based on what is working in the commercial space.

We are in the midst of an evolution with marketing today, and we are so excited to see where it takes us in both the retail and non-profit space.