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August 25, 2022

[PODCAST] Testing the Notion of Thought Leadership

What does testing have to do with thought leadership? Not much.

⚠️WARNING⚠️: If you’re a self-proclaimed thought leader, you will probably be offended by this episode. Or, maybe you’ll be inspired to lean on research, data, and the learnings we get from testing what actually works. In this episode, Katie interviews Nathan Hill, the VP of Marketing for Next After, a leading nonprofit research company. Next After is blazing a trail by researching what works in fundraising and digital marketing.

Test first, then claim thought leadership.

There is no shortage of fundraising consultants, companies, and gurus claiming to have the secret formula to grow your nonprofit. But, does one solution work for all? Did their approach have a hot streak in the 1990s with little success since then? What is their claim actually based on? Nathan encourages nonprofits to forego the hype and invest time and resources into testing to learn what does work. Your nonprofit is unique, and your results with different methods and tactics might be, too!

What should my nonprofit test?

With over 3,800 experiments in the books, Next After has tested everything from which job title works best on a donor appeal signature block to how much copy should go into your next social post. Little tweaks to our communications can have a massive impact on results. You can access much of Next After’s research online, but you can also do your own. In fact, no matter what size of team or budget your organization has, you can quickly begin with A/B testing of your emails and even your website. Nathan recommends using Google Optimize and your email provider to get started (pro tip: if your email provider doesn’t offer A/B/ testing, you need a new email provider). 

Winston Knows Where Experiments Go

Not sure where to store your research? Next After offers a free platform for recording and aggregating research! Winston Knows is a free platform where you can easily record, compare and analyze digital experiments. Check it out! 

Meet Nathan Hill

Having worked in both large and small nonprofits, Nathan Hill has seen the way that optimization can influence and transform the work of an organization in fundraising and beyond.

He believes that by sharing the learnings of NextAfter’s digital research library on a larger scale, nonprofits – no matter their budget or resources – can be equipped to raise more names, donors, and dollars through the learnings of others. And if they can grow names, donors, and dollars, they can grow their impact in the world.

Prior to joining NextAfter, Nathan managed the direct and outbound digital marketing for a major nonprofit involved in the broadcasting, higher education, and publishing industries. He oversaw enterprise marketing automation platforms, directed both creative and technical marketing communications staff, and developed multi-channel campaigns in the areas of lead generation and fundraising.

Originally hailing from the pumpkin capital of the world – in Morton, IL – Nathan currently lives in the Dallas area with his wife and 2 daughters.

Shout out to our friends at DipJar for making today’s episode possible and fundraising fun and easy!


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