fundraising

What We Learned at CASE VI 2020

Brian Gawor

Vice President of Research

February 3, 2020

We’re just back from CASE VI in Kansas City. It was great to see long-time friends and once again hear about the successes and challenges of donor engagement programs in the region. Here are some highlights from the conference.

Key themes at CASE VI

Attending sessions, talking with attendees, and interacting at our events, I encountered a few common themes:

  • Programming to specific affinity groups and generations is of high interest. This includes young alumni, reunion groups, and special interest cohorts. Success with this is mixed, and resources are very tight to manage volunteers and separate messaging to different segments.
  • The development job is changing. Fundraisers are communicating with major donors digitally and employing gift officers who are either remote or not ever in the office to maximize resources and connect within the busy schedules of donors.
  • Big campaigns will continue. The right messaging, resources, and tactics to drive big campaigns were a big interest.
  • The first big buzz word was “engagement.” The discussion was how we work with supporters to build a relationship that goes beyond the request for a donation.
  • The second big buzzword was “ambassador.” There was high interest on bringing peer volunteers into the mix and the evolving role of students in solicitation and stewardship.

These are similar to what we’ve been hearing at conferences this season, especially the need to link new technology to a solid omnichannel communication strategy.

Hearing from experts, learning from peers

We recorded three live podcast sessions as part of this year’s program. In this first episode, Chris Knudson from Wartburg College talks about how our supporters “live our brand” and also about how to get the most from your peers at professional conferences. Give the podcast a listen for a great recommendation for involving alumni in enrollment efforts.

Chris will chair the 2021 CASE VI Conference in Omaha, and this was a great episode.

Subscribe to Fundraising Voices to hear the other two episodes we recorded live, with Jody Donaldson of Kirkwood College and Mark Versen from Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska.

We ran a fundraising reality TV show—live on stage

It was great to close the conference with a great Throwdown! event.

The Throwdown is a reality-tv “cooking show”-inspired competition where two teams of volunteers face off and answer a donor engagement challenge. We created this event to provide an interactive, audience-driven opportunity for attendees to apply the ideas and research they captured at the event. Thanks to the great group of volunteers who shared their expertise and creative ideas.

CASE VI Fundraising Throwdown
CASE VI Fundraising Throwdown
CASE VI Fundraising Throwdown

This year’s CASE VI Throwdown! was Giving Day-themed challenge, and there were a few common threads in the solutions.

  • Catchy themes are a high priority as fundraisers and marketers design events. There’s a real interest in breaking through the competition to get attention from our supporters.
  • Both teams extensively used challenge matching gifts in their designs. It seems that challenge campaigns are here to stay, and having a platform that can enable challenges live (small and large) is important.
  • Linking major gift work with annual giving has become a consistent part of giving day work, and institutions are ramping up their giving day works months in advance to secure these anchor donors.
  • Social media sharing is a big part of Giving Day amplification
CASE VI Fundraising Throwdown
CASE VI Fundraising Throwdown

CASE VI Fundraising Throwdown

The next Throwdown! will be held at CASE III in Orlando next week. Tune in to RNL’s social media for pictures and updates.

Another great year with CASE VI

This conference is one of my favorites each year. The inviting group of conference leaders and a real interest in sharing and learning new ways to engage donors make it always a great event. The CASE regional conferences have the added value of bringing together professionals facing similar regional challenges, and who have often know each other for many years. As Chris Knudson said in the podcast interview, you get what you put into your conference experience, and we were privileged to be a big part of the conference as a sponsor and interactive session host.

Let’s talk about your fundraising strategies for 2020 and beyond

We’d love to tell you more about what we learned, and what RNL is doing to bring forth the next generation of donor engagement technology. Contact us today to schedule a consult with Chad Warren or Meg Weber, who help design transformative solutions for CASE VI institutions here at RNL.


About the Author

Brian Gawor

Brian Gawor’s focus is research and strategy to help propel both alumni engagement and fundraising results of RNL clients. Brian has 20 years of higher education experience in student affairs, enrollment management, alumni engagement and...

Read more about Brian's experience and expertise

Reach Brian by e-mail at Brian.Gawor@RuffaloNL.com.


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