4 Things I Learned from NYN MarkCon

Attending nonprofit conferences is a great way to keep your sector knowledge fresh, learn about new trends and techniques, and build your network of potential partners or clientele. Last month, Whole Whale had the opportunity to attend the 3rd Annual MarkCon, a nonprofit marketing conference, host by New York Nonprofit Media.

The full-day conference boasted eight amazing panel discussions highlighting ways to establish brand personality, the importance of data visualization, digital marketing trends, fundraising tactics, and best practices.

While we would love to give you a full rundown of the event, we’ll settle for the top 4 things we learned from NYN MarkCon.


  • When strategizing for digital marketing initiatives, be creative & flexible.

As technology advances, it’s important that nonprofits find creative ways to strategize and adjust to the ever-changing needs of the market. Having a solid digital strategy is key when creating online initiatives and engaging with your audience, keeping in mind ways to refine when necessary.

Utilize tools and other available resources to help drive your initiatives and track performance, which will help define the ways to pivot on your strategy. With budget restraints and lack of internal capacity being very real things, nonprofit resources can be limited — which is why creativity is such an asset.

Check out Whole Whale’s tips on how to start a standout awareness campaign.

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  • Stay ahead of the curve.

Staying ahead of the curve and knowing what trends are making their way to the nonprofit market is essential for keeping your nonprofit brand in front-of-mind. As Associate VP at Capalino + Company Safeena Mecklai suggests, nonprofits should keep a close eye on digital trends and “use all tools available to them” to help turn audience engagement into action.

Staying ahead of new trends and techniques for your nonprofit eliminates the need to play catchup with other organizations. For example, Safeena notes that one of the key trends is mobile optimization. “When it comes to younger generations, mobile is supplanting desktop and laptop computers as their primary device. So when you’re designing a website or a tool, build something that is mobile inclusive, mobile forward.”

Speaking of mobile, we have a roundup of text and SMS messaging resources for nonprofits.


  • Use data to tell a human story.

Data visualization is a great way to show and tell the full story of your organization’s work. The visual medium can create the  greatest amount of impact, but it must be done in a way that is not dehumanizing.

Anthony Lopez, Executive Director of Zone 126 ( a nonprofit that drives community transformation for children and families in Astoria and Long Island City’s concentrated pockets of poverty), reminds us: “Behind the numbers are real people. So nonprofits must find a way to creatively express the gravity of the numbers.”

For example, Anthony suggests including quotes of the people represent your organization’s  data. Putting a human face or testimony behind the numbers can help to drive home the importance of these figures, and move stakeholders from being aware of to being committed to the action you want them to take, be it donating, volunteering, or more.

More on converting audiences from aware to committed in our digital impact guide.


  • Network, Network, Network!

Conferences are a great way to share your organization’s name and work with  potential clients, partners, or new hires. Plus, you can learn about what other organizations are doing, what’s working for them, and see how your nonprofit can implement and benefit from similar tactics.

Do you have case studies or techniques to share? Try to land a speaking role at a conference — it’s how we’ve met several of our clients over the years!

Check out our 2017 Nonprofit Conference list to see which would be the best fit for your organization.