The Bridge Conference, hosted by the Direct Marketing Association of Washington (DMAW) and the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Washington DC Metro Area Chapter, features regionally, nationally and internationally renowned speakers, offering some of the finest cutting-edge educational programming available to fundraisers and direct marketers.

I’m a conference geek. I love the sessions, meeting new people and, in particular, the Maxi awards—for the chance to see the great work of our friends and colleagues in the nonprofit world.

Recently, a team of Schultz & Williams staff attended the conference, and I was asked to share my top takeaways—things I learned, new ideas to consider, people we should be paying attention to and more.

So here they are:

    • The mail is still king! Yes, we live in a multi-channel world now, and budgets are being expanded or redistributed to include digital fundraising—but, for results, mail remains strong.
    • Go digital! No, I’m not contradicting myself. If you’re not including digital initiatives in your fundraising plan, you’ll soon be left behind.
    • Beware of shiny new things. There’s so much great work being done. Each year, I’m reaffirmed by the tried-and-true best practices of our industry that still resonate, still engage and still raise money.
    • Innovate! Again, no contradiction. One session—presented by three seasoned fundraisers—echoed the need to rely on proven fundraising methods. But, they also underscored that audiences are evolving and that our creative should do the same (or “that our creative should evolve too”). Effective works, stale doesn’t!
    • Give thanks. This one never gets old. When someone supports the person, place or cause you’re raising money for, they need to be thanked. Soon. And sincerely.
    • Good job. This might be a bit indulgent but it’s an honest takeaway. There’s no substitute for compassion in fundraising, and I met a lot of it. Good work needs good people, and I was privileged to be in their company. Results don’t always bear that compassion out. That’s why we test and test and test again, and why we meet and share our experiences.

For more about DMAW and the Bridge Conference, click here.