More Learnings from the Bridge Conference

By Kim Blake, Annual Fund Manager, Fonkoze

I learned a lot at the recent BRIDGE conference and am grateful to the DMFA for providing me with the opportunity to attend on scholarship. I’ve been serving as Annual Fund Manager at Fonkoze for nearly a year, raising unrestricted dollars to provide financial and non-financial services to empower Haitians—primarily women—to lift their families out of poverty.

One of the areas I see for substantial growth is with our monthly givers. Until now, I’ve thought of sustainers as a heavily branded program, but the workshop I attended, “Million Dollar Year: How Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Grew Sustainer Revenue by 50% in 2021,” has me looking at it more in terms of a payment option. Learning from this organization’s successes and pain points, I’m looking forward to employing techniques that will be easier on our limited resources (time, budget, etc.) and more effective at converting more of our donors to sustainers and acquiring sustainers right out of the gate. I’m grateful to Rails-to-Trails and my peers for sharing everything from high-level strategies around direct mail and integrated web campaigns to in-the-weeds programmatic tips. I can’t wait to implement these learnings into my day-to-day role. The “Monthly Giving Brainstorm Blitz: 30+ ideas in 30 minutes was an excellent opportunity to share and learn from my peers and focus on this channel.

Another area I found many actionable insights is around acquisition. After being out of the mail for six years, we recently restarted our prospecting program here at Fonkoze. It was interesting to see what some of the “giants” are doing around acquisition as we again dip our toe in the testing waters.

We’re at the point of testing packages against our Control package, so it was very timely to see what other non-profits are putting out there. It’s encouraging to see their willingness to invest, test and learn, especially amongst threats of supply chain issues, increased costs, and a declining economy. I’m taking back the two biggest questions we can ask ourselves: Is there a solid and heartfelt case for support? Do our donors feel their gift is making an impact?

I’m proud to say our organization can say yes and yes!

The Future of Philanthropy seminar offered a fascinating look at generational giving trends, shifts in donors’ attitudes and behavior, etc., which I’ve already shared with my team. I was thrilled to learn that most millennials prefer “impact investing,” like funding microloans, which is a large part of what we do. This knowledge also feeds our desire to accept Cryptocurrency, as this cohort prefers this giving channel. Also, 2020 shifted donors’ greatest concerns that bode well for Fonkoze fundraising efforts: hunger taking the lead; followed by economic development and racial discrimination.

I don’t always make the keynote speaker address but I’m glad I did this time. Kim Becking was a breath of fresh air as she taught us ways to boost our resilience and practice everyday gratitude.