The 14th Annual Bridge to Integrated Marketing and Fundraising Conference took place at the Gaylord National Hotel & Conference Center on July 10–12, 2019. In line with this year’s theme, Change the World with Ideas and Ideals, the conference’s 80 educational sessions provided points of view on innovative approaches to creative, analytics, and cultivating and engaging donors. In addition to these educational sessions, the Solutions Showcase offered opportunities to connect with service partners from over 120 companies for help with any challenges organizations might be facing. And, finally, with more than 2,500 attendees, there were countless potential connections to help facilitate fundraising efforts.

Those amazing offerings and opportunities are just the beginning of the countless things to do and see at the conference, but a few things really stood out to me about how to make the most of the experience—so, without further ado, here are my top three pieces of advice regarding Bridge:

Attend Sessions Specific to Your Role

With over 80 sessions to choose from, it can be challenging to determine which to include in your busy schedule. Fortunately, the organizers of Bridge developed the schedule by track, so attendees can focus on the general sessions that more closely aligned with their goals. As someone focused primarily on digital growth in the acquisition space and acquiring donors, the sessions I attended followed the Digital Ideas and Techniques track and the Acquiring Donors track.

Network & Connect

There are countless opportunities to meet with other industry professionals at Bridge. Some of my favorite ways are:

  • Manning my company’s booth. This year, NFL focused on launching a new product (FLUENT), which was an excellent conversation starter—and the cookies we brought didn’t hurt either!
  • Meeting with service partners. Carving out time to sit down with service partners we work with regularly is an easy way to realign on client goals and strategies without the hubbub and “hot potato” game that comes with day-to-day work.
  • Mingling at lunchtimes. The Bridge committee thoughtfully set up lunch tables with talking points, so, at each meal, I was able to meet new faces and share what NFL does in the fundraising space as well as learn about other companies’ capabilities.

Get Involved

To pull off an event like Bridge, over 100 volunteers from across the industry put their heads together to work on the planning and execution of the conference. And what better way to meet new peers and potential clients than to work side-by-side with them?

I hope these takeaways will help you make the most of your next Bridge experience! Will we see you there next year? If you missed NFL at Bridge, make sure to check in with us at the Chicago NP conference!

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