Keynotes get crowd revved up at Connecting Up
16 May 2022 at 4:47 pm
From the state of the sector post-COVID, to a new perspective on marketing and the future of philanthropy, day two of the Connecting Up conference was full of valuable nuggets of information for attendees.
From the moment Peter McNamara began the first keynote of the day, it was clear that those attending day two of the 2022 Connecting Up Conference were in for a bonanza of an event.
For many people, this year’s Connecting Up Conference has been their first in-person event since the pandemic hit. And while everyone there acknowledged and knew intimately that the pandemic isn’t over, there was a buoyant feeling in the air as the morning keynote on Thursday got underway.
Peter McNamara, the president of the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), delivered a rallying cry to the sector representatives in the room, encouraging them to stay focused on their mission and purpose despite the roadblocks in the way.
Reflecting on the “exhausting” rolling crises of the past three years, McNamara praised his peers for continuing to show up each day.
“You’re doing amazing work. It’s extraordinary, it really is,” he said.
Digital technologies had provided many opportunities for the sector, he said – but digital illiteracy remained a problem among vulnerable communities. Access in the right places and the right languages, and at the right price, were vital to help communities stay informed and connected, he told the audience.
He said many in the sector were still learning how to get the best from digital technologies, but that the assistance of the tech sector meant they had the right support to learn. He implored the tech side to help their for-purpose colleagues in their missions.
“This is stuff that is so transformative for [the] people we serve,” he said.
McNamara reminded the room of the rapid transformation that had taken place over COVID, that had seen people housed and given enough money to survive and thrive. Speaking on raising the rate of welfare, McNamara challenged the rhetoric that the country couldn’t afford it.
He also expressed disappointment that so little has been done by the government to address major crises like housing, family violence and the climate emergency.
He encouraged not for profits, charities and advocates to “stare down” the governments on these issues – especially as so many people continue to be impacted by the ripples of COVID, with charities always the first to respond to their need.
“We saw government for a short period – not long enough – prioritise people’s health, homes and livelihoods. We saw the JobSeeker supplement move from that terrible, miserly Newstart, which changed people’s lives overnight,” McNamara said.
“Don’t blink back at them when they sometimes talk down to our sector. And when they say ‘oh you know, we can’t afford that, you don’t understand’ – bullshit!”
Better marketing on the agenda
We’ve all heard of the marketing funnel – but as the audience heard in the second keynote, that may not be fit for purpose anymore.
That’s according to Kat Warboys, director of marketing APAC at Hubspot, who drew in a large crowd for the second keynote of the day.
She focused on how to use technology to improve customer experiences and meet customer expectations, especially given those expectations had been changed by the pandemic.
“We definitely can’t ignore it anymore, and I think more importantly, going forward, we need to constantly be reassessing what is the gold standard of customer experience in 2022,” she said.
Ultimately, Warboys explained, there are a few key things that customers want in their journey to making a purchase or becoming a client: ease of use, personalisation, and speed. New technologies can allow for-purpose organisations to hit all of those points, she said.
Warboys proposed the marketing “flywheel” as an alternative to the traditional marketing funnel. The flywheel has the customer at the centre and considers them a vital force of momentum and growth for the business.
The key is for all teams within the organisation to be aligned towards the customer service goal, she said. And like a flywheel, forces can act as friction and slow your progress down, or as momentum to keep propelling it.
Strategies should be applied to attract, engage and delight the customers on the flywheel – and communications tools, including things as simple as Messenger, WhatsApp and website chatbots, are vital to tell your story and keep customers engaged throughout, Warboys explained.
Finding the future of philanthropy
Everyone wants to be able to connect with funding that will help them achieve their mission, but knowing how to find those sources of money can be a challenge.
In the final keynote of Thursday, Jodi Kennedy, GM of charitable trusts and philanthropy at Equity Trustees, shared some advice on fundraising.
Part of the challenge, Kennedy said, is convincing funders to give their money to you rather than the hundreds of other organisations you’re competing with. COVID-19 also reshaped the sector for both donors and recipients.
“A lot of trusts and foundations rely on income from the stock market. So as soon as the impact of lockdown and the pandemic on the stock market took a hit, a lot of available income that funds these foundations went down,” she said.
Meanwhile, charities and not for profits saw demand go through the roof.
Now though, things are beginning to stabilise and Kennedy said that one positive impact of the pandemic is that many Australians have realised just how vital these service organisations are, and are happy to put their money where their mouth is.
Kennedy said her organisation often has conversations with philanthropists around trust-based philanthropy – trusting the organisation they’re donating to, to know how to use the funds and thereby “honouring and empowering” the sector.
“Don’t give it to them to make more food for the homeless, give it to them to transform their technology platforms, give it to them to train their staff, give it to them to buy better tech equipment, give it to them to just do whatever they want with it,” she said.
She said she and her team are also currently considering the funders of the future.
“They think very differently to the way that we are used to… the next generations are going to have a historic amount of money to give. They’re eager to be involved through their lifetime,” Kennedy said.
“We’re starting to see people finally recognise that giving should be something we’re all doing. It’s not something that is just for the wealthy.”
To that end, some of her work is around reducing barriers to philanthropy. That could mean communicating about it differently, for example on social media, wherever your target audience is active.
It’s vital for organisations to be able to tell their story in a matter of minutes, she said, to convince time-poor funders. Demonstrating and measuring impact is important here too.
“The big message to all of our clients and to us as an organisation is if we don’t start to listen, to engage and deliver content to these younger people in a way that they want to be spoken to and shared information with, they won’t be practising philanthropy as they are today,” Kennedy said.
In this regard, technology is the key, she added – enabling communication and easy donations at any time, anywhere.
“If we don’t start to break down those barriers and… if we don’t provide technology solutions that make it easy for young people to share it amongst their peers, then we won’t succeed in capturing the true philanthropic intent that is there,” she said.