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    By Drew Fox Jordan • June 28, 2021

    Big Brothers Big Sisters Bigger Together: Our Favorite Sessions

    We know you can't attend every session, so for this year’s Big Brothers Big Sisters of American National Conference, so Gravyty is providing you with some recaps from sessions you couldn't make it to for you to get caught up.

    Gravyty at BBBSA Conference 2021

    Here are the sessions the Gravyty team has enjoyed so far:

    Justice: Our Origin Story

    This session will unveil the new strategic frame highlighting new initiatives, partnerships, and the vision for the future of the organization. Special guests and remarks will be made by alumni Judge Robert Wilkins, US Circuit Judge on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and Nikki Clifton, President, Social Impact at UPS Foundation.

    Recap: Inspiring keynote by Artis Stevens on what it means to show up Big and Bold. Amazing to hear about the personal stories and to learn more about the new initiatives pushing BBBS on a “bold path to a big future” Especially the goal to reach 1 million alumni and champions. Realizing that there is power in human connection and that individuals are truly the untapped path for sustained success.

    Donor Management and Matchforce: Enterprise CRM For All

    Join this session to learn about how we are adding donor management to Matchforce and building integration tools to drive better insights with data, improve operational efficiency, and be more effective at engaging all of our constituents. We will review the features and capabilities roadmap for the initiative, dive into timelines, and discuss the data migration plan.

    Recap: Excellent presentation from Jarrod Bell on why and how BBBSA will be implementing a new data structure within the organization. The reasoning and goals behind this plan are clear and relevant to solving the need for improved engagement and stewardship. Really appreciated how Jarrod emphasized the importance of high-touch engagement and having all the tools that make that possible.


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    Building a Trust-Based Collaborative to Maximize Impact and Improve Sector Health

    What if funding, nonprofit and governance relationships began with trust? How could this benefit the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors? What does embodying trust-based practices look like? Trust-based philanthropy practices benefit whole systems, enabling funders and nonprofits to work with more ease, authenticity and focus.

    Recap: Thank you to Yolonda Lavender, Amy Kutcha, and Matt Lynn for a great session. Really appreciate the change of focus to relational processes as opposed to transactional ones. Wonderful insight on how maximizing capacity and improving efficiencies can lead to the success of a mission, especially one that is built on relationships and trust.

    Non-Profit as a Business – How to Attract and KEEP Big Money

    If we have learned anything from the past year it is this: We MUST continue to operate as a BUSINESS. With watchful eyes on our monthly revenue plans, benchmarking our successes as well as our challenges, and bringing new creative and entrepreneurial ideas for growth, each agency can thrive with sustainable success. Come learn the top five things you should be doing to attract and keep big money to run your agency like a top-notch business!

    Recap: Interesting session with Laura Fredricks and Luke Riordan that looked at nonprofits through a business lens. Great discussion on how important time management is to the success of a npos mission and how it takes less time to attract a donor and earn their trust when the quality of conversation is good. Realizing that you “can’t keep tapping the same people for the same thing”, segmentation and the use of the right messaging is vital in strengthening a donor's commitment to the cause.

    Case Study: The Iconic Mentor Auction

    In January 2021, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta implemented its first Iconic Mentor Auction, raising more than $85,000 for the agency. This virtual online auction asked prominent Atlantans to donate one hour of their time to benefit the agency's one-to-one mentoring programs. This session will share our process for making the ask, marketing the virtual event and key takeaways.

    Recap: Fun concept of auctioning prominent Atlantans time as a way to drive fundraising. Veronica Oladeji and Michele Pearce shared how utilizing the right networks to make the connections was key in creating their campaign, while engaging the right audience was key in the success. The next step, as in all relationship building, is cultivating those connections.

    Igniting Philanthropy in a Post-Pandemic Landscape

    This session reiterates the importance of diversifying your fund development plan as we move out of the pandemic. While we are tempted to go back to the way things were, in this session, we will consider a balanced fund development plan and the transition from transactional to relationship-based donations from sponsors, individuals, and foundations.

    Recap: Interesting presentation regarding philanthropy in a post-pandemic world. Natalie Root explained how now is the best time to engage and build relationships with untapped donors. The question she posed was “What came out of 2020? and the importance of investing time in these next generation of donors. Having a plan of a more philanthropic approach is key to connecting with donors.

    Equity: From People to Pipeline and Partnerships to Purpose

    This panel will feature other thought leaders from Corporate America who will share insights on equitable outcomes, programs, and people empowerment. The panel will discuss barriers that face both rural and urban communities, ranging from digital connections and literacy, gender inequality, education gaps, and health care disparities. Attendees will walk away from this discussion with insights on innovative programs addressing youth outcomes, additional resources to serve the BBBS families, and how to engage and help scale existing initiatives presented by corporations represented on the panel.

    Recap: A wonderful session with so many impressive guest speakers discussing diversity, equity, and inclusion. Great roundtable on the challenges the past year has brought and how we can navigate those challenges as we face towards the future. Following that discussion, was an insightful keynote address from Joan Garry, who brought charm and humor to her “5 strategies to ignite innovation”. By focusing on fundamentals, marketing success, trying new things, building an army of the engaged, and rallying around a bold vision, organizations will be better equipped to sustain and thrive through 2021 and beyond.

    Network Technology Roadmap

    Catch up on the latest direction and initiatives involving technology and the Network, including Matchforce, Donor Management, Marketing Automation, Technology Enhanced Mentoring (Supportive Accountability and e-Mentoring), and Digital Engagement.

    Recap: Another great session from Jarrod Bell who, by focusing on the 3 key priorities of keeping the lights on, creating efficiency, and transformation, gave the tech roadmap for the national office. He is implementing better systems for data and collaboration, to create efficiencies for the whole organization to use, as well as using technology to solve old problems and connect more with constituents.

    How to Raise Money From Corporations Without Relying on Events

    Join Accelerist, the leader in corporate partnership technology, for a discussion on how to pivot from event-focused fundraising to diversifying your corporate engagement strategy. Learn how to reassess and reposition your agency's value and how to engage in beneficial conversations with corporations even when you don't have an event-based offering. The Team at BBBS of Central MN will also join the session to share their story on how they're utilizing technology to refresh their agency's value to engage corporate sponsors in new ways.

    Recap: Really engaging session from Brenda Jacobson, Emily Steinmetz and Brittany Hill, on how to raise money without relying on events.There were many polls conducted during this session, but the one that stood out the most was “Are you considering shifting your partnership structure away from event-based sponsorship and more towards more holistic partnerships?” The majority of participants were making the shift and less than 10% weren’t considering it. They explained how this shift is made easier by understanding your value proposition, relying on previously built trust within your community, and a willingness to stand by the idea that the mission is enough.

    How to Write an Effective Quantitative Evaluation Plan for Grant Proposals

    In this presentation, you will find out why it is important to write a statistically sound evaluation plan that can be used in a grant proposal at the time of submission. You will learn the definitions of Qualitative, Quantitative, Summative, and Formative and how they can be used to measure your success. As part of this presentation, you will learn what statistical methods you might use and how frequently you will use them to make adjustments/enhancements to the program based on the data.

    Recap: An interesting discussion into the world of grant writing. How an evaluation plan backed with important statistics can help guide a grants program. It really got into how reducing data into meaningful points is one of the most important steps along the way.

    How to Write an Effective Quantitative Evaluation Plan for Grant Proposals

    Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Massachusetts was fortunate enough to complete a year-long pro bono consultancy with one of the leading CX firms in the world - C_Space. Through their proven methodology, they have identified actionable opportunities and interventions that are sure to improve the Big experience and increase match retention. Come and learn about three clear opportunities to strengthen matches!

    Recap: Wonderful exploration of a Big’s journey and how to map it. Really loved the idea that “understanding others takes time, persistence and imagination” Then you take this information, and use it to get different messages to different people. There is a lot of work that goes into retention and it starts with understanding the holistic journey.

    The Big Journey mapped:
    5 ingredients, frame the problem (what is the problem we are solving for a volunteer), make space both mentally and physically (how can you set up your context for a breakthrough?), build relationships (have you looked holistically at the humans you are working with?), look for possibilities  (have you connected the dots or only collected the dots?), co-create change (who is missing from this conversation?)

    Incorporating Youth Voice in College/Career Mentoring

    This roundtable discussion will feature 4-5 youth (17-22) who have received college/career-focused mentoring support from a selection of agencies across the country, including Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies in the Inland Empire, Miami, Central Texas, and Orange County. Littles will share their experiences, including how Bigs and staff have helped them overcome obstacles to postsecondary success.

    Recap: An enlightening look into the lives of 4 young adults who are part of post-18 programs around the country. It explored life after graduation, how BBBS helped guide them to where they are, and also what they expect to get from that relationship in the future. It really showed the importance of being and staying connected.

    Right Person, Right Message, Right Time: Marketing Automation for Online Fundraising

    Digital fundraising allows us to give the right message to the right person at the right time! How do we do it without losing our minds? Marketing automation! Learn what’s possible, what’s working and what’s NEW in marketing automation—and how you can use it to improve your fundraising program.

    Recap: The shortcoming in marketing automation is when organizations think that it counts as a personalized action. A form email after a donation shouldn’t mean that a fundraiser shouldn’t also reach out for a personalized thank you. These types of scaled communication and segmentation based on action need to be supplemented by real engagement from real people for giving to increase.

    Using YOS/COS Outcomes Data with Funders

    This workshop will take a look at the newly released Youth and Child Outcomes Survey Report. Most importantly, we will cover strategies for how to use data from this report to speak with funders and donors. You will also see, and have the opportunity to practice, pulling data from the new report. This workshop is appropriate for all staff at all levels. If you have ever found yourself speaking with funders about outcomes, this workshop is definitely for you!

    Recap: A great session by Jen Ashbaugh and Rebecca Porzig that showed how important data is to expressing the results and successes of a mission. How using this data and making it human is an important piece of telling an organization’s story. This is hard proof that what you’re doing is making a difference but it is also showing supporters that they are part of that difference.

    Volunteer Stewardship

    During the Volunteer Stewardship workshop, attendees will learn strategies to personalize and manage their volunteer outreach to both applicants and recruitment partners alike. Strategies include: customized mass communication, formulating constituent journeys for volunteers, and organizing yearly recruitment asks.

    Recap: An insightful session that asked how do you make your partners stay? Carlee Morgan discussed how the best way to do that is through stewardship. Using “sticky” moments that are high touch and memorable will create “raving fans” that will keep coming back and share your organization’s value across the community.

    Closing General Session - Inclusion: Building Trust Rooted in Authenticity and Intentionality

    This panel will feature BBBS agency leaders, external thought leaders, and educators, and a BBBS parent who will discuss the importance of and necessity to align our work with intentionality and knowledge of the communities that are often underrepresented. Attendees will hear shared stories of allyship, impactful dialogue discussing the needs and challenges agencies may face, and learn relevant strategies to engage communities with empathy, build trust, and knowledge of cultural resources to strengthen an agency’s ability to connect with communities in authentic and inclusive ways.

    Recap: The last session of an inspirational conference. It celebrated the successes of many BBBS around the country. There was a wonderful discussion around inclusion featuring panelists, Roberto Rivera, Dennis Brown, Becky James Hatter, and a BBBS parent. These panelists were honest, compelling and at times raw. They showed a great understanding that we must not only look inward to create change, but we also must keep an open mind, listen and continue to learn. “Healing and transformation come from having a. authentic relationship with someone who’s different from us”. Lastly, we must continue our journey of accepting who people are, not dismissing them for who they aren’t.

    Curious to see how AI is helping Big Brother Big Sister organizations all across the country reach and exceed their fundraising goals? See a Gravyty demo today and learn about what is possible in philanthropy:

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