Inspiration, Bloody Marys and other Takeaways from the 2014 Bridge Conference


Hats off to the DMAW and AFP-DC for another stellar Bridge Conference. Kicking off with pre-conference workshops and the Maxi Awards on Wednesday July 9, through 70+ presentations Thursday and Friday, through the powerful closing session from the founder of Free the Children, #Bridge14 delivered 3 days of nonstop information and inspiration.

What happens when you get 1,700 nonprofit do-gooder marketing types together?

1. Steve Nardizzi from the Wounded Warrior Project tears into charity ratings watchdogs calling them out as “ineffective and misinformed” at best and at worst “outright misleading to the public.”

2.We soak up everything we can on on the how and why of monthly giving from Erica Waasdorp, the Red Cross, Defenders of Wildlife and others.

3. Paralyzed Veterans of America shares compelling case studies in giving their program a digital facelift.

4. Catholic Relief Services and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation boldly share their “Oh %@*#***!” direct marketing mishap moments, and how they turned those occasional lemons into lemonade.

5. We get Bloody Marys from Madeline Stanionis! And a song from Marc Ruben! Plus a wealth of digital testing data and their online expertise.

6. The Nature Conservancy and Lambda Legal fill us in on the vast, and still largely untapped potential of face-to-face fundraising, including pretty compelling stats on acquisition costs and retention.

7. Over 100 Bridge Conference volunteers see to the quality of the educational content, help us find Baltimore 3, give us advice on sessions to attend, and take care of approximately 1,000 other things to help us get the most out of the conference.

8. American Farmland Trust along with John Graves and Alia McKee, remind us that donors aren’t ATM’s and show us how to really care for and cultivate our contributors.

9. Scores of talented, passionate, dedicated fundraisers generously share case studies and expertise in their organizations’ development programs for the benefit of all of us attending, and the work of our nonprofits.

10. And at the end of the whole thing, Craig Keilburger of Free the Children makes us cry, think about what the heck WE were all doing at age 12 (he was fighting to free children from poverty and exploitation internationally), and re-inspires us to go back to our desks on Monday and work harder than ever to change the world.

I have always wished the excitement and inspiration of Bridge didn’t have to end after 3 days. Turns out, I’ve found a way to make it last year round: as Co-Chair of the 2015 Bridge Conference.

Along with Deborah Peeples of the Alliance for Justice, we’re already getting started on #Bridge15. If you’d like to get involved, sign up to volunteer. If you’ve got expertise and case studies to share, keep an eye out for our Call for Papers next month. And if you have ideas for the conference or just want to shoot the breeze about Bridge, drop me a line. I can’t wait to see you at #Bridge15!



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