By Katie Zupancic Wymer
Last week, I had the honor of attending the Classy Collaborative, a three-day conference focused on social impact. Together, 1,200 changemakers explored trends in philanthropy, social entrepreneurship, fundraising, cause marketing, digital marketing, and corporate social responsibility. Throughout the different panel discussions, case studies, and workshops, I was struck by the boldness of speakers and attendees — everyone in attendance had an intense desire to change the world. Armed with data, trends, and best practices, this desire fueled passionate TED-style talks, thoughtful panel discussions, and critical keynotes challenging the status quo. You could feel this passion in informal conversations too, like during the Event 360 5K Run for Good, during coffee breaks, or in the food truck line. However, data, trends, and best practices can only take you so far — that strong desire for change, that boldness, is what will move these changemakers to truly make an impact. That was my biggest takeaway. Ending world hunger, addressing extreme poverty, and providing aid during natural disasters is not simple work. You must be bold, and you cannot be afraid.
Do not be afraid of storytelling and personalization. Nonprofits that personalize and excel at the storytelling around their mission, constituents, and vision for the world will continue to grow. We heard amazing donor stories, like one from Charity Water where six-year-old Nora gave an envelope of change amounting to $8.15. After amplifying this special donor’s story in an honest video around World Water Day, her impact grew significantly as people matched her $8.15 donation or donated $81.50, $815.00, and $8,150. Charity Water’s Tyler Riewer shared that stories need to deliver a feeling of hope and provide a clear call to action. “Guilt is a one-time donation, hope is a donation for life.”
Do not be afraid of failure. I was consistently struck by this groups’ willingness to think outside the box and to test. With testing comes the inherent need to be comfortable with the topic of risk and the ability to accept and prepare for failure as a potential outcome. The transparency and openness with which risk was discussed created a safe space to have hard conversations about failure and how we can learn from it. Nonprofits have an overwhelming amount of data available to them about constituents and their behavior, and that data can help drive informed testing.
Do not be afraid of empowering others to tell your story. Instead of staying so focused on ensuring our constituents’ messages are “on-brand”, we need to empower them to achieve our mission on their own terms and on the channel that makes the most sense for them — whether that is on social media, email, video, photography, mixed-media, poetry, or other forms of self-expression. When we allow our constituents to personalize their delivery of our mission, our impact will be amplified. Take The Shoe That Grows, an organization that delivers shoes to kids in developing nations. The shoe grows five sizes over time, allowing children to attend school more often. Instead of forcing their brand guidelines on fundraisers, The Shoe That Grows provides a pair of their life-changing shoes to fundraisers so that they can build their own tangible story of impact through fundraising. By relinquishing some brand control, the personalization and dedication to this organization and their mission grows.
Don’t be afraid of segmentation, especially for Millennials and Gen Z. When it comes to the younger generations of fundraisers: if we are talking at them, we have already lost them. Instead of directing Millennials and Gen Z-ers, we need to inspire them with segmented language that moves them to action. What has worked in the past will not drive us forward — we need to take cues from organizations like The Dinner Party which know their constituents and speak to them with language that aligns on platforms they use.
My biggest takeaway? Be bold. The world needs changemakers like you. When you are not afraid to challenge the status quo, you will do incredible things. $8.15 makes an impact. A multi-million-dollar corporate social responsibility initiative makes an impact.
At Event 360, we’re proud to work with national nonprofits who are boldly changing the peer-to-peer fundraising landscape, whether through ground-breaking events or forward-thinking digital marketing efforts. We’re a collection of event production and event marketing individuals focused on making an impact for our clients. Boldness is so central to our organization that it is one of our core values: “Boldness: We believe that we make our own luck. So we take informed chances. We value action over indecisiveness, encourage innovative answers, and discuss solutions rather than problems.” If you need help getting that impact started, call us now.
Katie Zupancic Wymer (LinkedIn, Twitter) is the Senior Manager, Consumer Marketing at Event 360. She manages digital marketing strategy, social media strategy, and sponsorship for MuckFest® MS, the FUN mud run in support of a world free of multiple sclerosis. She also manages digital marketing for other fundraising events like Bike MS. Newly Minnesotan, she enjoys exploring the Bold North with her tiny dogs, Annie and Charlie.