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YMCA professionals gathered April 6-9 in Tampa, Florida for the NAYDO 2022 Conference.

The theme of this year’s conference was “Discovering the Treasures in Community” – a perfect parallel to the beautiful Tampa setting. Staff and volunteers were decked out in pirate attire, tables were outfitted in treasure chests and coins, and there was even a treasure map!

Beyond the fun theme and beautiful setting was the sheer excitement of attendees and sponsors being in-person once again. And for the Community Rec team, it was the excitement of attending a NAYDO conference for the first time and getting to see so many readers and partners’ faces, rather than just an email signature.

As editor of Community Rec Magazine, the recognition of our publication and eagerness to be involved with our mission was overwhelmingly encouraging at the conference. It was a true joy to hear what we do for the industry is valued. The conversations had will continue to fuel our mission to increase healthy lifestyles by educating and empowering health and wellness professionals.

NAYDO 2022

Community Rec Magazine team members, Tim Adkins, Liz Greenlee and Brittany Howard.

During the conference, I also had the pleasure of attending some of the educational track workshops offered on the topics of fundraising and collective impact. Below are some of my top takeaways from the sessions:

What We Learned Raising $25 Million: A YMCA Case Study

Zane Moore, the president and CEO of the YMCA of Bucks County, and Debbie Sontupe of Match Nonprofit Consulting and YMCA alumni, presented on fundraising and cultivating donors. They had three main takeaways during the presentation:

  • Timeline: Your timeline is not the donor’s crisis. A larger campaign will take many steps and conversations.
  • Grow the Pipeline: Be intentional and always prospecting. Some of the lead gifts came in at the end of their campaign. You can’t know everyone – work with colleagues and board.
  • Different Buckets: It’s not just philanthropy. Multiple sources and out-of-the box thinking were critical to getting and securing needed funds.

As an added bonus, Moore and Sontupe shared two last takeaways they learned raising $25 million. “Surround yourself with a good team in operations – CEO’s must free yourselves up to be engaged in the campaign. Highs are high, but don’t let lows bring you down – we did get no’s.”

NAYDO 2022

Debbie Sontupe of Match Nonprofit Consulting and YMCA alumni, and Zane Moore, the president and CEO of the YMCA of Bucks County, during their case study presentation.

My favorite part of this discussion was the story Moore told about community partner and lead donor in the Y’s “For a Better Us” campaign, Fred Beans Auto Group. If you weren’t in attendance for this session, you should reach out and ask him to tell it. You won’t be disappointed.

And lastly, Sontupe recommended the Ted Talk, “The Way We Think About Charity in Dead Wrong,” by Dan Pallotta for those interested in learning more about fundraising and donor cultivation.

Bridging the Gap – Inspiring Members to Become Donors Post Pandemic

Alexandra Moore, the vice president of philanthropy at the YMCA of Greater Richmond, and Barbara O’Reilly of Windmill Hill Consulting, shared great insights on why your members are great prospects. Below are top takeaways:

Members Should be Great Prospects: Members know the value you provide, you have their in-person attention and likely know a lot about them, and they already give you money.

Where to Start: Who are your members and what makes them tick? Do they volunteer, attend fundraisers, share social media updates? Do they give elsewhere, and what’s an appropriate amount?

NAYDO 2022

Brittany Howard, the editor of Community Rec Magazine, and Bertram L. Lawson II, the president and CEO of the YMCA of Central New York.

Introduce the YMCA mission beyond membership and programs.

  • In-branch messaging such as wall displays, donor rosters, and ads on TVs.
  • Mission-driven tours.
  • Staff interactions with members.
  • Printed materials to take.
  • Segmented and customized mailings.

Invite them to learn more about the YMCA.

  • Get them to visit with member and member prospective events.
  • Follow-up after mission-driven tours.
  • Promote member/donor testimonials.
  • Email, social, print mail awareness and ask.
  • Staff and board outreach during and after the annual campaign.
  • During the annual campaign, volunteer outreach and targeted conversations.

Make it easy to become a donor.

  • Understand what your member experience is like through member surveys.
  • Assess the member to donor journey by asking staff for feedback on their experience and donor surveys.
  • Identify where the best areas of growth are: At point of membership entry as an add-on, and/or follow up with longest members who are not donors and invite them.

Positioning the Y for Collective Impact

The last session I was able to attend was presented by Jorge Perez, the president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati, on why YMCA’s need to collaborate.

During the discussion, Perez shared about creating the Y everywhere you go and seeing the YMCA as part of an ecosystem in the community. Members of the audience shared a number of community issues their Y’s are seeing, including homelessness, youth suicide, gun violence and more. Perez elaborated these issues can’t be solved alone, thus the importance of collaboration with community partners to make a collective impact.

Jorge Perez, the president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati, during the “Collective Impact” presentation.

The main takeaway from the session was social innovation as “The New Norm.” Examples included companies such as Uber and Airbnb – they didn’t create the product consumers are using; they provided the environment. “What’s the biggest challenge to innovation?” Perez asked. “The people in the box.”

Sometimes you need help thinking outside the box you’re in, and that’s where collective impact can help. At the end of the discussion, Perez proposed a new strategy for fundraising: It’s not about who gets the money, it’s about the needs. “We were all doing collective impact during the pandemic,” he said. “It’s about what’s in it for all of us.”

And lastly, I also wanted to recognize the All Together Better exhibit by the YMCA of Greater Tulsa.

During the conference, Matt Hancock, the chief operations officer at the Tulsa Y, walked attendees through the interactive exhibit, educating them on the story and impact of the 1921 Tulsa Massacre, as well as the way the Y has worked to support its communities since its inception. Learn more about the exhibit.

The All Together Better exhibit by the YMCA of Greater Tulsa at NAYDO 2022.

In conclusion, the NAYDO 2022 conference was a truly amazing experience. The ideas shared, discussions over great food and laughs had will be treasured. Community Rec Magazine is already excited for NAYDO 2023!


Brittany Howard

Brittany is the editor of Community Rec Magazine. Reach her at brittany@peakemedia.com.

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