Oct 4, 2016

Unite, Advocate, Lead: What We Learned at the Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits Conference

October 4, 2016

Unite, Advocate, Lead: What We Learned at the Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits Conference

Written byHighway Twenty
Categories: Fundraising, Strategy

As we enter the busiest time of the year for nonprofits, executives from a wide range of organizations took time out to meet last week at the Alliance for Arizona Nonprofits’ Annual Conference and Member Meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The theme of the day was “Unite for a Stronger Nonprofit Sector.” Discussions included how to work together to improve nonprofits as a whole, advocating for causes to create social change, and leadership.


At the Keynote Luncheon, Tim Delaney, President & CEO, National Council of Nonprofits, encouraged attendees to band together to advocate for nonprofits as a whole.

“Government cuts are forcing nonprofits to do so much more, for so much less, for so much longer… Our pockets are being picked.” Tim Delaney, President & CEO, National Council of Nonprofits.

Delaney noted that government budgets have been slashed in recent years, creating even greater need in the community for a wide range of services. Nonprofits have been filling that gap, but not receiving reimbursement at a level that pays for total expenses, including overhead.

He encouraged nonprofits leaders to get involved in local government to advocate for changes that will help people and take the burden off of nonprofits.


One barrier that has prevented nonprofit leaders from getting involved in government is the perception that advocacy is not allowed under the rules and regulations that guide nonprofits.

Delaney instead encouraged nonprofit leaders to vote, and to get involved in local government, where the vast majority of decisions are made. He noted that state lawmakers enacted over 69,000 laws in the 2013-2014 legislative term, while the US Congress passed less than 300.

He joked “if you aren’t at the table, you’re on the menu” to point out that nonprofits will continue to suffer budget cuts if they aren’t involved in making the laws and setting priorities.


Nonprofit leaders shared best practices throughout the day on a variety of topics, from marketing their causes to engaging their boards.

Our CMO, Kirsten Markson, led Arizona Gives Day: How’d They Do It?, a panel dedicated to sharing successful campaigns and strategies surrounding the high-dollar fundraisers from the 2016 event. She was joined by Tiane Kennedy, Public Relations Director, GAP Ministries; Kaylie Marsh, Executive Director, Swift Youth Foundation; and Nicole Pena, Director of Public Relations & Marketing, Phoenix Rescue Mission.

Panel participants shared details about the strategies that helped them earn donations and win prize money on Arizona Gives Day.

The three panelists came from vastly different organizations based on size and mission, but their advice followed a few common themes: use your networks of past and current donors, as well as supporters and employers; broadcast your successes on social media; and know your audience, either through anecdotal data on what they care most about or data captured on CRM systems.

Thank you to all of the nonprofit organization leaders in attendance — here’s to working together for a stronger 2017.