Event Recap: The Nonprofit Marketing Summit August 2021

by Karen Vela  |   |  Company Culture  |  0 comments

4 min to read ✭ In this post, you will read a recap of the Nonprofit Marketing Summit event, including details on some key sessions.

The second summit of the year is now complete! With some added preparation, a similar run of show, all new content, and a flashy new online event platform, we are definitely calling this one a success. 



After our first summit of the year in February, we sent out a survey to all attendees to get their feedback—both positive and negative. This helped us learn which things we should change about the next event and also what they liked. Some feedback we received included expanding the event into multiple days and leaving more time for breaks between sessions. We planned to implement both. 


After assessing the logistical side of how the event played out, we decided that it would be better if we switched from Zoom to a virtual event streaming platform that was built for thousands of people to watch at the same time. We explored multiple options and ultimately decided Welcome would be the best fit for our summit. 


With feedback from February’s attendees in mind, we made the decision to expand the event from one day to three. We knew this would take a lot more time and preparation than before, but we were up for the challenge! In order to fill 3 days with content, the speaker applications and outreach began so we could curate the best lineup of sessions possible. The outcome resulted in 42 sessions, 58 speakers, 2 days of free content, and 1 day of VIP-only content. Additionally, we were able to introduce our inaugural Social Impact Pitch Competition to the summit schedule.


Run of Show

Similar to February’s summit, we kept the same concept of streaming multiple rooms at the same time to give viewers the choice of attending the session that would bring them the most value. This event had three rooms streaming at the same time—The Main Room, The Community Room, and The Boost Room. The Main Room was a stage for six sessions including the opening and closing keynotes each day, while the two additional rooms were the stage for four sessions each. Day 2 was structured in the same way,  and the Welcome platform made it very easy for users to switch between rooms throughout the day. 


The third day of the summit was designated for VIP pass holders only. We wanted to create a unique and extra valuable experience for those willing to commit to a third day of content. Our VIP Day featured workshop-style sessions with a hands-on learning experience. The goal was for attendees to leave with actionable insights to implement at their organization immediately. We knew that only offering this day to VIP pass holders would create an intimate experience, which we thought would be ideal for workshop sessions. Day 3 was hosted on Zoom to bring the collaboration to life and allow for attendees to turn on their cameras and microphones and actually converse with fellow attendees and speakers. This would allow us to create a strong learning environment and foster connections in the community. 


The first two days of the event were 100% free to attend, with the opportunity to upgrade and join us for Day 3. The VIP pass included a bonus day of content, the recordings of all 42+ sessions, our Google Ad Grants Academy, and a 1:1 digital consultation with our team.


Session Highlights

Because we are already halfway through the year, we curated our content around topics that would be most beneficial and valuable to nonprofit marketers as they move into year-end giving. Additionally, we introduced some brand new topics that haven’t been covered at any of our previous events like cryptocurrency fundraising; diversity, equity, and inclusion; and how to produce a documentary.



As mentioned, the goal for this summit was to hit fundraising hard so that our attendees felt prepared to take on year-end giving. Speakers Jena Lynch and Killian Raynor from Donorbox gave a great presentation about their top 7 strategies to ignite your fundraising campaign. Being the expert fundraisers they are, their session focused on recurring giving, donor acquisition, and retention. 


One of our most popular sessions was one on cryptocurrency and fundraising—a trend that has been gaining more and more traction each and every year. In fact, crypto fundraising is currently the fastest-growing donation method! Guest speakers Pat Duffy (The Giving Block), Ettore Rossetti (Save the Children), Edwin Goutier (United Way), and Beth Wolf (American Cancer Society) joined us for a panel on how their organizations have incorporated crypto fundraising into their marketing strategy. 


Another key session on fundraising was hosted by Classy’s Senior Vice President of Marketing and Customer Growth, Soraya Alexander. She talked about Classy’s findings from some of the top year-end fundraising campaigns in 2020. This session was definitely a highlight because she dissected the best practices these campaigns followed, common themes among the group, and the year-over-year giving trends (informed by Classy’s platform data). 


Facebook and Instagram Ads

Facebook and Instagram ads remain one of the most dominant digital marketing strategies for nonprofits. We covered topics surrounding best practices when it comes to making the most out of these ads in two different sessions. The first one being “Scale Your Advertising Efforts with Facebook Ads Manager” hosted by guest speaker, Martha Peña, from Facebook. This session covered how to use advanced targeting features, ad scheduling options, and creative ad formats when creating your Facebook ads. 


Second, the Community Boost team hosted a session titled, “6 Tips to Drive More ROI from Facebook & Instagram Ads in 2021,” which was very popular. Our experts, Ernie Civic and Chloe O’Rourke walked us through their key strategies learned from $3M+ in ad spend managed for hundreds of nonprofits. If Facebook Ads are your biggest challenge, be sure to check out the recordings for these two sessions!


Social Media

Social media has the potential to do great things for your nonprofit’s digital marketing efforts if done right. It’s one of those channels that takes arguably the most consistency, attention, and learning to keep up with so we knew it was crucial to include a couple of sessions on the topic. Julia Campbell’s session in February was so popular and loved, we had to bring her back for round two! She spoke in a session called, “How to Convert Social Media Fans and Followers Into Donors and Long-Term Supporters” and she definitely delivered! Julia talked about the reality of algorithms and the importance of being focused, strategic, and consistent in your social media efforts in order to get any traction. This one is a must-watch for anyone who takes on the role of social media manager at your organization!


Similar to Julia, we invited Angela Pitter back to the summit to coach us on LinkedIn best practices. In a session called, “How to Attract, Build, and Expand Your Donor Pool with LinkedIn,” Angela walked us through the potential power behind using this platform for social fundraising. Key takeaways included encouraging employees and board members to get on LinkedIn to build a network and unlock relationships that will secure funding for your organization. 


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

One of our most anticipated sessions this year was one on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. We brought in guest speaker Kayla Santalla from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (formerly with Girl Scouts of the USA) to chat with us about a topic that has become increasingly important in the past year. In the session, “Nonprofit’s Reckoning with Inequities in Race and Beyond: What Marketers Need to Do to Lead Transformational Change,” Kayla shed light on how to avoid the pitfalls of performative allyship along with strategies to authentically advance your organization’s DEI commitments via digital marketing. If you don’t have the recordings yet, this session might be a reason to get them.



It’s hard to narrow down the key sessions from VIP Day, as they were all so in-depth and hands-on. We had multiple rooms running with one focused on workshops and one focused on year-end giving. Angela Pitter returned on day three to host a LinkedIn workshop, Beth Kanter presented on lessons learned from the pandemic’s fast-tracked digital transformation, our Google Ad Grants Certified Professionals hosted a workshop on Google Ad Grants where they performed a live audit of an account, and our team of Facebook Ad experts hosted a workshop on the nitty-gritty details within Facebook Ads Manager. 


The year-end giving room focused on the entire process of preparing for year end, executing your strategy, and even what to do once it’s over. The sessions outlined how to create a strong campaign theme and story, the year-end giving timeline, our best tips and tricks on execution, and donor stewardship.


Digital Marketing Strategy

We would be doing you a disservice if we didn’t mention a few other key sessions that stole the show. Add these sessions to your watch list: 

  • Fireside Chat w/ Days for Girls: How Days for Girls Uses Effective Marketing and Communication to Bring Dignity and Opportunity to 2.1M+ Girls Worldwide with Jessica Williams (Days for Girls) and Matt Briggs (Community Boost)
  • Drowning Out the Competition: How You Can Stand Out in a Crowded EOY Inbox (and Make More Money by Dec 31, 2021) with Karen Hopper (Razorfish)
  • Google Ad Grants: Scaling Year-End Giving Results & Boosting Meaningful Conversions with Search Ads with panelists: Michelle Hurtado (Google), Emily Fisher  (Community Boost), Genevieve Riutort (Westside Food Bank), Rod Arnold (Soles4Souls), and Daniel Amrhein (Center for Puppetry Arts)
  • Setting a Strong Foundation: The Keys to Building Long-Term Marketing Success with Jean Purviance (World’s Children) and Michael Goodrum (Community Boost)



To sum it all up, this summit was jam-packed with the best nonprofit marketing content you can find. The event as a whole ran smoothly, and it’s going into the history books as our biggest, most successful event to date. We exceeded our registrations from February with over 12,000 nonprofit marketers. We were once again joined by marketers from not just the country, but all over the world, and we were blown away by the engagement and excitement that everyone brought with them. 


We are so grateful for the community that has been created from hosting these events. Thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to share our insights with you! The Nonprofit Marketing Summit is something we plan to continue pouring our hearts into, and you’ll definitely see us back for another one in February 2022. Can we make it even bigger and even better?

Karen Vela

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