September 28-29 in Fort Worth, TX

The Nonprofit Innovation & Optimization SummitSeptember 21-22, 2017Presented By NextAfter

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Unleash Generosity. Transform Your Fundraising.

The Nonprofit Innovation & Optimization Summit started in 2016 with the simple goal of equipping nonprofit fundraisers with the practical tools needed to raise more money online. And over the past year, the summit has grown to be a community of fundraisers all working towards the ultimate goal of unleashing generosity.

To unleash generosity, we have to transform the way the that we fundraise.

For NIO Summit 2017, we’re putting together a line-up of the world’s foremost innovators and optimizers to bring the latest and most effective digital strategies to your nonprofit fundraising program.


Here are four things we’ll make sure you take away from NIO Summit 2017:

New ideas

New ideas

What really works in online fundraising? Who is doing the most pioneering work in the for-profit space that can be applied to nonprofit marketing and fundraising?

Our speakers will challenge “best practices” and show you how to rapidly grow your organization’s marketing, fundraising, and impact.



Nothing is worse than a great idea that never gets implemented. That’s why we’re making time during the summit for hands on coaching and collaboration.

In a roundtable format, you’ll be able to discuss strategies with peers, get advice from optimization experts, and test your new ideas before you even leave the summit.



The summit will have several networking opportunities for you to connect with your nonprofit fundraising peers.

From breakfast, lunch, cocktails hours, and the official NIO Summit party, you’ll have the chance to connect with other innovators and glean new ideas for your emails, donations pages, marketing strategies, and more.

Great memories

Great memories

We want the summit to be a comfortable and relaxed place to ask questions, challenge best practices, and learn new skills. So forget the coat and tie – this a boots and jeans event.

And with the summit taking place in the Fort Worth Stockyards, you’ll get a true Texas experience – Texas BBQ, authentic Tex-Mex, and a longhorn cattle drive.


The Speakers

Amazing content is key to a great conference. For NIO Summit 2017, we’ve recruited some incredible speakers that will inspire you, challenge you, and equip you with useful strategies, techniques, and tools to help you accelerate and transform your digital fundraising and marketing programs.

Start getting ready for NIO Summit 2017 by reviewing the sessions from last year’s summit. You’ll find practical strategies and ideas that you can implement into your fundraising right away. Follow the link below to watch a video of every session, download the slide decks, and get a copy of the official NIO Summit 2016 notes.

Watch each session from NIO Summit 2016 for free.


2017 Speakers

Jessica Jackley

Co-Founder at KIVA

Mathew Sweezey

Principal of Marketing Insights at

Tim Kachuriak

Chief Innovation & Optimization Officer at NextAfter

Bart Schutz

Co-Founder at Online Dialogue

Annie Cushing

Founder at

Amy Harrison

Copywriter, Consultant & Speaker at Write With Influence

Austin McCraw

Associate Vice President, Partner Solutions at MECLABS Institute

Peep Laja

Founder at ConversionXL

Jessica Best

Director of Data-Driven Marketing at Barkley

Ton Wesseling

Co-Founder at Online Dialogue

Jeff Giddens

Senior Vice President of Optimization at NextAfter

Kristina Cutura

Founder and Owner at

Brian Carroll

Entrepreneur, Author, Speaker at B2B Lead Blog

Courtney Gaines

Director of Optimization at NextAfter

Kevin Peters

Senior Vice President of Data & Strategy at NextAfter

Dr. Chuck Coker

CEO at LiveThrive

Ryan Phelan

Vice President, Marketing Insights at Adestra

The Agenda

We’re packing two days full of actionable presentations that you can immediately put into practice. There’s no fluff, no selling from the stage…just a firehose of great ideas. Oh, and we’ll take notes for you.

River Ranch Stockyards

Register at the sign-in desk. Get your official event badge and swag tokens. Check out the Expo Area and explore the venue.

Expo Area

Grab some grub. Wrangle your seat. Get ready to innovate!

General Session Room

Our event hosts – Jeff Giddens and Courtney Gaines – will get you up-to-speed on all the event details and make sure you’re all geared up to have an awesome and productive time at this year’s summit.

Tim Kachuriak

We’ve got a lot of great new info to share with you this year. Tim Kachuriak will kick off the event by relaying some discoveries from  a busy year of testing and optimization and get you primed for the fantastic line-up of thought leaders that will give you actionable ideas to help you innovate and optimize your fundraising efforts.

Jessica Jackley

What do brick makers, basket weavers, farmers, fishermen, seamstresses, shopkeepers, shepherds, and so many other hardworking entrepreneurs have to teach us about resilience? Hope? Resourcefulness? Purpose?

What do these incredible individuals have to teach our organizations—from nonprofits to small businesses to the Fortune 500s—about fostering creativity? Managing risk? Rapidly innovating? Prioritizing what matters most?

Highlighting stories and lessons from her recent book Clay Water Brick, Jackley presents a powerful keynote that proposes new, unique business wisdom and reframes existing best practices in atypical, thought-provoking ways. Bright, energetic, and unapologetically optimistic about the power of entrepreneurship to change the world, Jackley offers a refreshing and deeply inspiring perspective relevant to a wide range of organizations and individuals.

Brian Carroll

The single biggest challenge for nonprofits is finding money to accomplish their mission. Today’s fundraising environment is a paradox. Online marketing gives us more opportunities than ever to reach new donors; but actually, connecting with potential supporters in a way that inspires is harder than ever before. In fact, 76 percent of non-profit leaders admitted that their messaging only resonates with their target audience some of the time or not at all. Forrester Consulting discovered, “65 percent of marketers struggle to employ emotional marketing as they turn to automation to improve customer engagement.”

In this session, Brian Carroll will explain how empathy can help you connect with donors and inspire them to take action.

Expo Area

Take a break. Refill your coffee. Get to know your fellow nonprofit marketers and fundraisers that are striving to inspire greater generosity.


Get a quick marketing and fundraising tip from our friends at Kindful. They’ve been doing a great job at helping nonprofit marketers raise their game and have a wealth of insights to share with you and your team.

Peep Laja

How can you use a data-driven system to optimize your stuff? How can you make sure your A/B tests are targeting the right pages and your treatments are solving actual problems? In this talk you will learn:

> Why you need to think of conversion optimization as a process and not tactics

> Why “best practices” aren’t necessarily the best ways to optimize your site

> How to dig into the formula for conversion success

> How to get better data for making optimization decisions

> How to gather qualitative and quantitative data to identify problems on your site

> How to prioritize your tests

In an collaborative format

Practice makes perfect. Optimizing can’t begin until you roll up your sleeves, dig in and give it the ol’ college try. Get to know some of your peers as you work together on a lading page optimization exercise designed to help you understand the types of changes you can make in your campaigns to achieve ever-improving results.

Kevin Peters

Thanks to many of our attendees from last year, our Library of Experiments is even more packed with tests that can help guide your optimization efforts. Learn how you can get a test up and running while you’re at the event and start contributing to this awesome resource for nonprofit fundraisers.

Dining Area

Head to the Dining Area, grab some lunch and then enjoy the sunshine on the back patio with your fellow nonprofit marketers and fundraisers.


The folks at Active Engagement have been helping connect nonprofits to new potential donors since 2009. Learn from their experience in this quick tip that can help optimize your digital fundraising campaigns.

Tim Kachuriak

Your value proposition is the single most effective tool you have as a fundraiser to influence your potential donor to make a donation.

After years of research, we’ve discovered that most nonprofits are ineffectively communicating their value proposition and are losing donors as a result.

The findings from a ground-breaking study of 127 of the largest nonprofit organizations will help you understand the need to communicate your value proposition effectively, and equip you to answer the fundamental value proposition question:

Why should I give to you, rather than some other organization, or not at all?

Austin McCraw

What is the value proposition of a first-time donation? How do we move someone who has never given before to donate for the first time? How are we to move the next generation not just to give, but to become passionate about giving?

In today’s reality, finding reliable new donors is quickly becoming the game for even the most successful nonprofits. But the solution to all of this is not found in some new fancy tool or some quick marketing tactic. Further, as we have all seen by now, donors are not going to immediately start banging down your doors just because we have magically discovered where on social/mobile they like to hang out. The real answer to this question comes from something deeper, something more fundamental to the essence of your organization: a strategically leveraged value proposition.

In this short session, Austin McCraw of MECLABS Institute, will walk you through the most essential insights from over 20 years of A/B behavioral research on how non-profits can more effectively leverage their value proposition to gain new donors.

In a team format

The nonprofit community is chock full of great missions and value propositions. Yet, most organizations do a poor job of expressing their value in a clear, compelling way. Why should someone give to your cause rather than spend those dollars on something else? In a team format, you’ll get to practice crafting landing pages and emails that convey value and incite action.

Expo Area

Head to the Expo Hall to grab a snack and network with your fellow nonprofit marketers and fundraisers.

Kristina Cutura

In this session, AdWords expert and ex-Googler Kristina Cutura will discuss how you can get to the top of Google rankings and show up when donors are looking for you, get more donations and traffic from Google searches, and get free money from Google to help grow your fundraising program.

Annie Cushing
It’s easy to get lost in data in Google Analytics. Annie will show you how to get to the bottom-line data in your analytics reports and avoid some of the more common traps that can cloud that data.
Hear ye

Our events hosts will summarize the day and let you know the 411 for the night’s activities.

Expo Area

After a day full of listening and learning, it’s time to relax a bit and have some fun. Enjoy a drink or two and some great appetizers as you discuss what you’ve heard with your peers and browse the Expo Area.

Restaurant of your choice

Go grab a bite to eat with some of your new friends and then get ready for the night’s festivities.

Billy Bob's Texas

Shindig Sponsor:

Active Engagement




With the generous support of our friends at Active Engagement, you’re in for a wild ride at Billy Bob’s Texas. Get the full Texas treatment at the world’s largest honkey tonk including libations, bull-riding and much more! This is one event you won’t want to miss!

Expo Area

After a night of western shenanigans and country dancing, a cup of coffee and breakfast are just what the doctor ordered. Revisit the events of the night before while enjoying a morning kick-start in the Expo Hall.

General Session Room

You might be tempted to sleep in and miss the opening announcements, but a word to the wise…showing up on time could be very rewarding indeed!

Bart Schutz

Successful digital strategies nowadays embrace both behavioral and data science in order to achieve evidence-based growth. Behavioral science clarifies that we’re much more than conscious beings. Much of our behavior is driven by processes that happen outside our conscious awareness.

In his eye-opening talk, Bart will explain how combining fundamental psychological insights with digital experiments will:

1) increase your revenue from fundraising

2) help you understand what truly drives and influences your donors

3) turn your successful optimizations into successful innovations

After this session you will begin to understand more about your donors’ behavior than they may even know themselves. And with this great intelligence comes great responsibility…

General Session Room

A properly deployed technology solution can work wonders for a nonprofit organization. But it’s easy for the promised gains in efficiency to turn into a time and resource drain that can hinder rather than help your fundraising efforts.

We’ve compiled an expert panel from both sides of the fence. Experienced technology providers and seasoned nonprofit marketers will discuss how you can get the most from complex technology solutions and avoid common pitfalls that can derail your best-laid plans.

Expo Area

Warm up your coffee, visit the Expo Area and check out the Live Test Dashboard.

Amy Harrison

When you write copy, there are 3 critical elements: What you KNOW about what you do, what you WRITE about what you do, and what potential donors THINK you mean. Unfortunately, it’s too easy to have a disconnect between all three, and when that happens, people who might otherwise love to support your cause, don’t realize the true value of what you offer.

In this talk, you’ll identify any disconnect in your own marketing, and learn how to write copy that breaks through the noise, differentiates your nonprofit, and speaks to donors’ hearts and minds.

Jessica Best

According to the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing still earns the highest return on investment of any channel. The good news is that it can be especially powerful for nonprofits, sometimes bringing in as much as 20x what the campaign cost. Are you getting the most out of your email campaigns?

Take a peek at the Best in Class nonprofit email marketing campaigns from 2017 and how you can apply their success to your campaigns. Plus, with 10+ years of experience in email marketing, Jessica will share optimization tips to hone the most powerful tool in your marketing tool box!

In a group format

Email marketing is a key component of most fundraising programs, yet due to the repetitive process it’s easy to get in a rut that can stall your efforts. Work with your peers to practice taking run-of-the-mill emails campaigns and injecting them with fresh ideas that can make a huge impact on their effectiveness.

Dining Area

Head to the Dining Area to grab some lunch, and then have a seat on the patio with your fellow nonprofit marketers and fundraisers.

General Session Room

This year we are launching our first-ever NIO Summit Awards. Now is your chance to see best-in-class campaigns from the nonprofit community. Get inspired by what your fellow marketers have accomplished…we expect to see you on stage next year!

Apply for a Nonprofit Innovation & Optimization Award.

Ton Wesseling

Change and acceleration are key for organizations to remain successful. Focusing on data-driven decisions to make sure you don’t take the wrong path is key, But do you have the right set-up? Are you on the right track to make your data work for you?

In this talk, Ton will go in depth to discuss the ROAR model and give you practical insights on how to grow your organization with the right optimization approach. You will learn a lot about data and will be kept from the main data pitfalls you’ll keep bumping into if you don’t know what to look for.

Dr. Chuck Coker
For many years, Chuck Coker has been helping companies and organizations make better, more informed decisions using data about their most precious resource – their people. In this session he will share how you can use key “human data points” to:
(1) hire the right team members for your organization
(2) create donor “personas” and attract people that match them
(3) develop an approach that will increase donor commitment and contributions
In addition, this talk will highlight a case study that shows human data in action and how it can be used to directly influence fundraising efforts.
Mathew Sweezey

There are over 200 marketing channels and thousands of prospects who all demand personal attention. The only way to effectively scale is via automated marketing tools, and techniques. Do not be afraid! Mathew Sweezey, author of Marketing Automation for Dummies will share the keys to finding, implementing, and most importantly leveraging automated marketing technologies. The new world can be a scary place so let Mathew be your guide and teach you the real power and hidden secrets of marketing automation.

*Mathew will cover both entry level, and advanced topics in this session.

The end of the event

Thanks for coming!

We’ll recap some of the key ideas we learned during NIO Summit 2017, and then head our separate ways to pursue our mission of inspiring greater generosity.

Expo Area

Pick up a snack for the road and say farewell to your new partners in optimization. Now is a good time to exchange contact information and make plans to stay in touch over the course of the next year. It’s a great idea to have someone outside your organization available to act as a sounding board as you launch new campaigns.

The Venue

River Ranch Stockyards

There’s nothing like having a true ranch experience right in the middle of a bustling, thriving city, and that’s just what you’ll find inside the gates of River Ranch. Nestled among the history, traditions and lore of the Fort Worth Stockyards, River Ranch will give you an authentic “old west” experience while we explore together the bounds of what is possible in digital fundraising.





The Stockyards Hotelhotel-stockyards

Fort Worth’s legendary Stockyards Hotel has been welcoming guests since first opening its doors over 100 years ago in 1907.

Cowboys and cattle barons, kings and queens of country music, even an outlaw or two have found refuge and romance at the Stockyards Hotel. Patrons have journeyed from near and far by foot, horseback, stagecoach, motorcar and plane to enjoy the incomparable hospitality of this premier hotel.

The Stockyards Hotel is located in the heart of the National Historic Stockyards District and is the center piece of this lively shopping and entertainment destination. If rustic, old-time decor appeals to you, look no further. Each room in the Stockyards Hotel is unique and delivers an incomparable taste of western history.


Negotiated Room Rate: $169/night on Wednesday and Thursday, $269 on Friday night
To book a room call 817-625-6427 and ask for the “NIO Summit 2017” Room Block
Web Site: 


hotel-hyattHyatt Place Fort Worth Historic Stockyards

Nestled in the heart of the Historic Stockyards, Hyatt Place Fort Worth is the perfect place to hang your hat. With bold Texas overtones, the 101 beautifully appointed guest rooms offer the perfect combination of convenience, comfort, and Southern hospitality.

The Hyatt Place will give you the feel of the old west while delivering all of the accoutrements of a modern hotel – enjoy all of the perks you’ve come to expect from Hyatt properties.


Negotiated Room Rate: $149/night on Wednesday and Thursday, $209 on Friday night
To book a room call 800-833-1516 (using the group code NEXT) or book on their website at


hotel-courtyard-imagesCourtyard Fort Worth Historic Stockyards

This brand-new hotel opened in January of 2017 and is located just across the street from the Stockyards and Billy Bob’s Texas. The Courtyard has free wi-fi throughout the property and features a well-equipped fitness center and outdoor pool. A business center and boarding pass printing service is also available. This hotel has the longest walk to the event venue, but will be serviced by our complimentary event shuttle in the mornings and evenings.

Negotiated Room Rate: $149/night on Wednesday and Thursday, $159 on Friday night
To book a room call 817-624-1112 and use the group code NIO Summit

The Sponsors

Active Engagement

Looking to become a NIO Summit 2017 sponsor? View the sponsorship packages.