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BIG Stories & Strategies at the Big Brothers Big Sisters Conference in Anaheim

The Hustle team joined Big Brothers Big Sisters of America for their annual conference to learn how this national nonprofit is leveraging new technologies for greater reach and impact.

Last month, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America chapters from across the country met in Anaheim, California for the organization’s annual conference. Over a thousand volunteers and staff came together for workshops, training, and panels on supporting local communities, and Hustle was lucky enough to be in the mix. Big Brothers Big Sisters of America has been around since 1904 and operates under the belief that all kids have incredible potential. They work with adult volunteers and children between the ages of five and young adulthood to develop positive relationships that have a lasting impact on those participating in the nation’s largest donor- and volunteer-supported mentoring network. The conference was tremendously impactful, and we’re excited to share key takeaways with our community. Here’s what we learned:

Focus On Specific Needs

The conference brought together nonprofit leaders from across the country and focused on supporting young people of different backgrounds. In particular, a number of sessions focused on supporting LGBTQ+ youth and bringing an increased focus to mental health challenges. As Big Brothers Big Sisters continues to inspire potential in young people across the country, they’re leaning into how engaging with today’s youth can address systemic inequalities. And to make this happen, Big Brothers Big Sisters placed significant emphasis on fundraising and effective communications to drive the volunteers and resources needed to support local chapters and communities.

Digital Translates to IRL Support

As an organization that relies primarily on volunteer support, there were also great learnings on recruiting and maintaining your support network. The conference featured insights not just on the demographics of their Bigs and Littles across the country, but also how to bring more young people into the program on both sides as Gen Z comes of age. One session even showcased how Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana recruited 500 new Bigs in just 50 days (hint – it takes a strong and diversified digital presence). Our team was happy to see the amazing strides BBBS is making in transitioning many of its volunteer recruitment and fundraising efforts to digital platforms, some of which have already crossed the texting divide.

Many of the principles we apply with our nonprofit partners were reflected in the sessions, including:

  1. Peer-to-peer fundraising
  2. Event communications
  3. Volunteer engagement
  4. Stewardship and storytelling

By building out their digital presence, Big Brothers Big Sisters is taking #BiggerTogether to the next level.

Fundraising and Effective Communication

With sessions ranging from how to apply to grants to running successful fundraising events, we were glad to see a growing emphasis on peer-to-peer outreach. Engaging in real dialogue with supporters new and old is a strategy that wins when it comes to raising funds and asking for people’s time.

When it comes to communications more generally, efficiency, digitization, and community were at the center of what Big Brothers Big Sisters shared with conference attendees. As the needs of communities change and the way individuals respond to outreach changes with it, reaching the most people in the least amount of time, while maintaining a sense of authenticity, is essential to effective engagement strategies.

And we couldn’t agree more! The Hustle Platform and suite of tools are designed to support nonprofits in exactly this type of work: making fundraising and communications easy through integrated text and video.

BIG Impact, More To Do

The Big Brothers Big Sisters Conference left us with a lot to think about, but the organization’s network is even wider than we could have imagined. Big Brothers Big Sisters hosts over 235 agencies across the country and has served over 2 million children in the past 10 years alone. Currently, they have over 400,000 volunteer mentors and families engaged. By utilizing more digital tools, they’re expanding their reach and building deeper relationships – and they’re just getting started. It’s clear to us that in the years to come, this nonprofit will continue to grow and change more lives for the better, forever.

There are so many incredible organizations impacting the lives of young people across the nation, and Big Brothers Big Sisters is a tremendous leader in the field when it comes to community building. Thank you to Big Brothers Big Sisters for having us, and we can’t wait to see what you and fellow nonprofits make of the transition to a more digital future.

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