Fundraising Blog

Takeaways from the Nonprofit Marketing Summit - Radical Impact

Dee Brannick
Fundraising specialist, Co-Founder of GalaBid

The latest three day event took place online last week, and I had the pleasure of being part of it. It was an excellent event, packed full of practical tips and inspiring and thought provoking discussion. 

The summit was free to attend but with four concurrent to choose from the VIP passes were in high demand. These passes give attendees access to the recordings of all 60 sessions along with speaker slides and notes. The passes are still available to purchase at this link

As a sponsor, GalaBid has some VIP Passes to give away. If you would like to enter the draw for the final 4 passes we have available, enter your details here. The draw closes on September 15th. Winners will be notified on Monday 18th. 

To give you an idea of what you can expect with a VIP pass I thought I would share some of the tips and knowledge I picked up at the event. 

There was plenty of discussion on how to work with donors across many of the sessions. Here on some of the notes I took on the subject:

Give people more opportunities to give, giving isn’t just giving money. If you give donors more ways to engage with your organization they will become more loyal.
Giving is not in decline, however, the amount donated via large donations is in decline. 
People give at the end of year as that’s when they are asked, think about asking at another time.
Urgency is powerful. Giving Tuesday creates urgency. Manufacture more opportunities for giving. 
Don’t only focus on the donation, donors can help by becoming your advocates. 
Focus on the donor relationship first and the revenue will follow. 
You may need to end your relationship with some donors. You are looking for partners not masters. 
Get your donors out of the mindset that they are the white knights. 
In real partnerships you have hard conversations. 
Get out of the begging mindset. 
Taking responsibility to find the right donors is hard, If you fire a big donor you are on the hook to replace them. 
Consider how big your smallest viable audience is. How many donors do you need? The number may be large or smaller than you think. Perhaps it’s time to seek smaller donations from more people.
Learn how to communicate with one donor then repeat the process with the next one. Learn about them, what is their mindset, what do they dream about. If possible choose donors who get satisfaction from telling their friends. Seek evangelists! 
Substantial conversations may start on line but they will need to continue in person. Don’t just do a Gala because you have always done one. Consider how much time it takes from how many people and if spending those hours connecting one to one or in other ways would be a more effective use of time and resources. 
Strengthen your appeal, emotional appeals are most effective. 
This article suggested by an audience member gives some great example of compelling alternatives to a Donate button

Email it seems remains a key communications tool and the session on Email Marketing by Eric Stenhnach included some excellent practical tips. This is is my interpretation of the points made:

Email is great for sharing stories.
Not everyone on the list needs to receive every email! Only send the most important emails to unresponsive recipients. 
When testing subject lines don’t just look to see which one was opened most, ask who are the people responding to each one. 
The email’s call to action should be at the top. Assume most people won’t scroll. 
Focus on paragraph length instead of overall email length. 75 words per paragraph is a good benchmark. 
Build your list by reaching out to people like your supporters and ask them for their email.
Ensure that signing up for email is easy and that your website is clear and concise.

How to tell compelling stories was another prominent theme throughout the summit. These are some of the points from various sessions that resonated with me.

Invite people into the story. People are interested in stories they have a stake in. 
Explain how people are typically affected by the problem you are addressing and ask them if they are also affected in the same way.
Always be very specific with what you are looking to achieve. Articulate a specific goal and measurable results.
The problem is the hook. Position the product/donation request as a solution to the problem. 
The nonprofit is not the hero. The nonprofit is the guide. 
You will be more successful if you can encapsulate one big idea as a soundbite. Start with the sound bite, Deliver more detail over time. 
Sad stories can be difficult to tell. All fundraising stories need to include hope. 

As you would expect AI was a big topic. These are the notes I took on the topic and some of the links that were shared. 

AI can customise stories to donors at every level. An anecdote was shared where a nonprofit achieved an eight fold increase in the number of monthly donors following the use of a number of AI generated customized messages.  
Tread very carefully with AI. Start slowly and always use human oversight. 
AI can handle admin tasks in an instant - inexpensively taking the administrative burden from development staff who are overworked and burning out. 
Chat GPT is just one generative AI. Grantable is an example of another, specific to a nonprofits.
Be aware that Generative AI has the biases that exist in society built in. 
Consider predictive AI if you have more than 2 years worth of data and at least 10,000 donors (including inactive donors)
See this link for a useful article on how nonprofits can use Chat GPT

Some useful and specific information about programs for nonprofits by the likes of Google, Microsoft etc were peppered throughout the 3 days. Here are a few of tips I noted. 

Stripe offers discounted rates for 501c registered nonprofits whose payment volume consists of at least 80% tax deductible donations. Go to
Microsoft offers nonprofits free software. Ad grants for Bing Search are also available. 
See for information on how to register. 
Google also offer nonprofits ad grants. See and

Vu Le's session is worth a special mention. He is one of the most straight talking presenters I have seen in a while. This is just one of many thought provoking points he made.

Who is on your board of directors. Do they have any shared lived experience with the people the nonprofit serves? 

He also discussed the example of the hand written thank you note. This is a custom that most cultures don’t share with their white western counterparts. His observation led me to think we should think more about which ways to say thank you that are aligned with the people being served by the nonprofit. 

Another topic that I found extremely practical and something I hadn’t given much consideration to before was the topic of Inclusive language. This link includes the history and meanings of some words and phrases you may not be aware of and some more innocuous alternatives. 

There were many inspiring and thought provoking comments over the three days. Here’s one I liked a lot that I felt perfectly reinforced the summit theme - Radical impact 

Be ambitious. It’s better to come up short on a big goal than achieve a mediocre one.

It’s an honor to be part of this vibrant community of passionate fundraising professionals and suppliers who all work tirelessly to support so many good causes. I’m already looking forward to the next one. 

Dee Brannick, Director, GalaBid

About GalaBid

Ideal for donations. Perfect for Raffles. Awesome for Live and Silent Auctions! GalaBid’s online fundraising platform is designed for fundraisers of all types and sizes. For over 10 years we’ve been helping non-profits, charities, community clubs, churches, schools, and individuals to raise more and make a difference.

More Posts