Key Takeaways from the Washington Nonprofit Conference

It was my first time as a presenter at the DMA’s Washington Nonprofit Conference, and all in all, it was a great conference.

Energy was high, and the mood was positive (markedly different than just a couple of years ago).

I had the honor of sitting on the “Last Word” panel that highlights key themes from the conference. Here are a few that stuck with me:

1. Stop talking about integration and figure out a way to do it. Organizations like the Holocaust Museum and National Law Officers' Memorial offered simple and effective ways to get the job done, encouraging conference goers to start small, start early and put intra-departmental teams together.
2. Storytelling still reigns supreme, but boring, overcomplicated stories won't work. Ever. Simplicity of message is key. In fact, Freedom from Hunger was able to boost ROI in certain segments simply by as much as 72% by doing away with the use of program names and instead focusing on the activities of the program.
3. The jury is still out on the long-term effects of using premiums. The American Red Cross held firm in their belief that premiums are just too expensive, while Boys Town offered a compelling turnaround case study on the use of bundled premiums for maximum results. Fascinating debate.
4. Message matters in some places much more than others. Copywriter Tom Gaffny told the audience that 90% of the success of copy comes from 10% of the words. My favorite quote of the conference—"don't bother to battle about paragraphs 4-10; they're not worth the fight."
5. Challenge how you analyze. Kevin Moran of Integral encouraged the group to look at data from the donor perspective not just by channel. Figure out channel drivers, donor composition and then make your predictions.