Before beginning her current role as director of corporate sponsorships and individual giving at Fred Rogers Productions, Aleya Crable Jennings was a leader in the advertising industry, most recently holding the role of associate vice president and group account director at Gatesman.
“Coming from the advertising world, nonprofit tech bridged my day-to-day world, leading account management teams and strategies across multiple industries, with my passion for mission-driven organizations and my community work,” Jennings said. “As my two worlds have come together in this position, it became clear that the pervasiveness of technology would play an important role in how things are done internally and externally with our donors and corporate sponsors. Tech is not something I fell into, but something that I embrace to maximize my and our organization’s impact.”
Jennings has been named to Pittsburgh Magazine’s 40 Under 40 in 2021, the Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project, and The Incline’s 40 Under 40 Who’s Next: Communicators class in 2019. She also received the 2018 Young Professional Strong Award and the Barbara McNees Spirit of ATHENA Scholarship to attend the Leadership and Negotiation Academy for Women at the Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business.
Jennings will be presenting at this year’s inaugural BridgeTECH, a tech-focused event for nonprofit executives, fundraisers and marketers on Aug. 2 at the 18th annual Bridge to Integrated Marketing & Fundraising Conference. In the session, “Digital Fundraising Strategies: Leveraging Technology for Greater Impact,”Jennings will discuss digital fundraising strategies and tactics, as well as best practices for integrating these tactics into a comprehensive digital fundraising plan that aligns with your organization's goals and values.
NonProfit PRO caught up with Jennings to learn more about her work in nonprofit technology and why she’s so passionate about how the digital fundraising landscape has evolved in recent years and the strategies nonprofits should use to navigate it.
What impact has technology had on your nonprofit?
Technology has always played an important role at Fred Rogers Productions. We are a children’s media organization, so between our series and the multiple ways one can view our content, the digital games created, and the systems used internally to bring the Neighborhood of Make-Believe to life, we have always respected and leaned on the power of technology.
However, as it comes to individual giving and corporate sponsorships, over the last year and a half, we have implemented tools to remove friction from the donation experience, integrated various digital fundraising strategies and tactics, and continue to optimize tools to ensure we are having the most significant impact on and off of the screen.
What is the biggest struggle nonprofits have with technology and how has your nonprofit overcome that struggle?
It is tough to speak for all nonprofits because we are vastly different in the causes we serve and our resources. For some nonprofits, some challenges with nonprofit technology could include a general lack of resources or a deprioritization of sorts; they aren’t tech-savvy or are intimidated by new tech; [they are] unsure of the security of certain tech products (there is so much out there!); [they] may not have the resources or staff to effectively and efficiently integrate new systems into mature systems; or [they] struggle with the continuous optimization of tech. Ultimately, knowing where to begin is the first step and the toughest challenge.
Our nonprofit’s approach is to take tech integrations one step at a time. We identify a challenge, either internally or externally, take a diagnostic approach, and begin to analyze different resources or tech that can make us better. We do not have it completely figured out and continue to optimize based on industry best practices or what works best for us, and go from there.
Why is it so important for nonprofits to embrace technology regardless of staff size, revenue, overhead misconceptions, etc.?
So many nonprofits operate in a limited capacity — many don’t have robust teams, unlimited resources or aren’t future-minded, which makes them retreat from engaging with technology or leveraging it as an asset. Tech can serve as an extension of our teams — to broaden our capacities, help us connect with donors faster and broaden our audiences, and support our navigation of this ever-changing landscape.
Embracing technology could aid in ensuring the long-term success of the organization and impact multiple facets of a nonprofit — areas such as donor engagement and management, individual giving, corporate sponsorship, operations, marketing and communications, and improving company-wide practices.
Technology can holistically empower nonprofits by providing tools to manage resources, engage stakeholders, amplify their impact and ultimately support better fulfillment of mission.
What will you be presenting at BridgeTECH and why are you passionate about the subject?
When people hear about my transition from the advertising industry to the nonprofit sector, they often ask, “How did that happen?” Many don’t realize how similar these two industries are. My talk at BridgeTECH will give a look behind the curtain into my work at Fred Rogers Productions leading corporate sponsorships and individual giving. I will share some of my approaches to donor outreach and giving appeals leveraging social media campaigns, the optimization of our payment processing systems, and strategies and tactics that could be integrated into other organizations that are mission and value-aligned.
Join Us at BridgeTECH
Listen to Jennings share how the digital fundraising landscape has evolved in recent years and the strategies nonprofits should use to navigate it at BridgeTECH on Aug. 2 at the Gaylord National Hotel & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. Sign up for BridgeTECH and the Bridge Conference by selecting the "BridgeTECH + Bridge" option.