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Digital Day 2019: Expecting the Unexpected

June 12

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Going into DMAW’s Digital Day for the second year in a row, I knew I’d be leaving with a wealth of new knowledge in the digital space, but little did I know that the lessons learned would be both inside and outside of the sessions. Digital Day taught me more than just the latest digital trends, email deliverability, and data segmentation, it also taught me the most important rule of all: to always expect the unexpected. The day began with a delicious breakfast and eager ears ready for a day full of learning. At 9:00 a.m. sharp the impressive panel prepared to kick off How to Cut Through the Noise in 2020 at the front of the room when—despite the routine check ups and multiple tests only moments before—none of the ...Read more


The Carrier’s Curse: Questioning, Testing, and Why Everything Plain Is Exciting Again

Raise your hand if you’ve been here: you’re mailing a package with a heartwarming case for support, copy that hits all your marks in two pages or less, all in a gorgeous, full bleed, four-color carrier. The package is great, the message is strong, and your lists are ready to go. You’re so proud of this piece, you even stick the carrier up on your office wall like your kid’s A+ science test on the fridge. In short, you think it is going to be your best campaign ever—until you get results. Cue removal of package from wall, into recycling bin (or, if this is really not your week, the fireplace). If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. At this year’s DM201 in Philly (and if I didn’t see you there this year, you’d ...Read more


DM 201: Stop Getting Comfortable and Start Innovating

April 24

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DM 201 is an intermediate-level course that’s perfect for anyone who already has some direct marketing experience under their belt—whether at an agency, nonprofit, list broker, production company, or analytics firm—and wants to go beyond the basics. Somewhere between being a total newbie and seasoned vet things start to fall into place. We get comfortable with what we’re doing, the day-to-day tasks become second nature, and our instincts sharpen. It’s also when complacency can sneak in. Armed with experience and best practices, it’s tempting to run on autopilot rather than continually challenging our assumptions. This session challenged that tendency and pushed us to break out of our routines and find new ways to be ...Read more


Middle donors and the White House

April 5

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Are your middle donors suffering from middle child syndrome? Do they feel excluded, ignored, overshadowed by the over-indulged major donors and the high volume, attention-stealing low dollar donors?  Organizations are starting to shine the spotlight on middle donors, and rightly so.  The reality is middle donors account for less than 2% of all donors in our programs and yet generate upwards of 30% or more of annual revenue—all without receiving much attention or fanfare.  Middle donor programs are taking hold in nonprofit organizations. In the past three years, organizations with dedicated middle donor programs have seen the number of middle donors increase along with their revenue.  As we take holistic view ...Read more


Not just for newbies! – What I learned at DM 101

March 22

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Normally I wouldn’t have signed up for this particular seminar. After all, I’ve been in the industry for more than “just a few” years . . . although I’ll never admit to exactly HOW many years. Let’s just say I started back in the old days – before email, before online marketing, before much of the sophisticated direct mail campaigns that are being done today. It was down and dirty work, in the back room of an upstairs office of a local mail shop, complete with dark wood paneling and orange tile floors. Yes, the good old days for sure. But on this particular day, I was attending to bring two of my own “newbies” down to the seminar. Since they didn’t know anyone in the industry and big city driving wasn’t really ...Read more


Reaching donors when you don’t have an “Aunt Bertha”

February 4

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I had the pleasure of attending the DMAW Annual Meeting and hearing from keynote speaker Nancy Harhut about how to hack the brains of donors, members, and other humans. It was fascinating! Nancy shared a story about where her interest in fundraising began – at age eight when, incentivized by a banana-seat bike prize, she was tasked with selling Christmas cards to raise money for her school. Her loving Aunt Bertha helped her favorite niece out by pestering her factory co-workers to buy cards. Aunt Bertha was Nancy’s secret weapon – and you better believe she won that bike! So, how do you reach your fundraising goals when you don’t have an “Aunt Bertha?” The answer: behavioral science. Yes, Bertha standing right in ...Read more


A mail donor and a digital donor walked into a bar…

November 28

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If your first reaction to the title above is, “I don’t get it, is that a joke?”, then you likely were not among fortunate, dedicated marketers, who braved the region’s first snow dusting of the season to attend this month’s DMAW Lunch and Learn, “Digital First: Why Translating DM Content Just Won’t Cut It!” While the title above is not the set-up of a joke, it does set-up a concept that everyone who attended left understanding. That is, while these two audiences may share much in common, each is unique, and thus, each needs to be served differently. Our marketing bartenders for this fantastic educational event were: Kaitlin Juleus, Senior Communications Strategist at Blue State Digitial, Sarah Dunlap, Senior ...Read more


Key Takeaways – National Association of Charitable Gift Planners 2018 Conference

November 8

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Last month, I attended the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners Conference in Las Vegas. This is the premier national gift planning conference, with three days packed with presentations on all aspects of planned giving. I’ve been happy to see an increasing number of panels and discussions focused on marketing – the main driver for a successful program. Here are some takeaways: Worry when long-loyal older donors go silent In his presentation “Baby Boomers – A Very Special Generation or Just Typical Old People,” Russell James rightly called out the lazy thinking that marketers fall into by assuming that donors of the Boomer generation act differently than generations before them. In reality, all the ...Read more


Online Fundraising Best Practices for Nonprofits

October 26

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Best Practices and Bold Innovations: Recapping the Best of Bridge Lunch and Learn If you missed out on the 2018 Bridge Conference like me, I hope you made a point to attend DMAW’s Best of Bridge Lunch and Learn on October 18th! At this Lunch and Learn, one of the most popular sessions from this year’s conference was recapped by Kerri Kerr, Chief Operating Officer at Avalon Consulting Group, Myles King, Director of Annual and Digital Fundraising at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and Laura Connors, Vice President of Membership at the National Parks Conservation Association.  Entitled Perennial Favorites: Annual Fundraising Campaigns, FTW!, Kerri, Myles and Laura held a discussion on best practices and ...Read more


How Will Tariffs Impact Your Direct Marketing Program?

October 22

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Many in our industry are concerned about the trade war between the US and China… but what does it mean for you and your business? Since January 22, 2018 this war has been escalating regularly with Trump and Xi firing salvos back and forth in hopes of gaining the best economic position for his nation.  The current situation is that about half of the Chinese goods imported into the US will be hit with a new or additional tariff. So what impact will this have for you and your fundraising efforts? The simple answer… not as much as many feared. Three lists of tariffs have been implemented so far, with a looming threat of a fourth list to come. The first took place July 6, 2018 with the US imposing a list of tariffs on $34 ...Read more