Breaking: Nonprofit Federation Folded Into Larger Coalition

(Updated 10/6/22)

The ANA Nonprofit Federation, which for decades held a go-to February conference for fundraising direct response, is being folded into a new group within the ANA (Association of National Advertisers).

The February conference has been cancelled with a virtual conference for the new group slated for March 21-22, which is being called the “Brands for Humanity Coalition.” The Nonprofit Federation’s annual summer conference had not yet been scheduled and also cancelled.

The virtual conference will include content for all coalition members in an attempt to attract a larger audience base of nonprofit organizations, brands, agencies, and data providers.

Speaking on background, an ANA said the Nonprofit Federation would remain an entity within the ANA but also part of a larger grouping of for-profit “social good” members.  

According to multiple ANA emails obtained by The NonProfit Times, the ANA leadership is positioning the shuffling as providing “the ANA’s nonprofit members with a larger platform to be heard, to showcase their meaningful work, and to share their ideas and challenges.”

The email continued: “The ANA Nonprofit Federation is now part of the new Brands for Humanity Coalition, which brings together all the ANA’s ‘forces for good’ to drive meaningful industry growth to the benefit of all those we serve. The coalition underscores our belief that transformational change requires new approaches, holistic solutions, and strength in numbers.”

In addition to the Nonprofit Federation, according the emails obtained by The NonProfit Times, the ANA messaging for the Brands for Humanity Coalition is: ANA Center for Brand Purpose: Advancing an organization’s reason to exist beyond profit; ANA Society and Sustainability Collective: Enabling the adoption and acceleration of sustainable practices for society and the planet; Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing: Advancing equity, inclusion, social, and systematic changes across the marketing ecosystem; SeeHer: Fostering gender equality in marketing, advertising, media, and entertainment; ANA Center for Ethical Marketing: Building consumer trust and accountability in the industry; and, #EngageResponsibly: Driving action to drastically reduce online hate speech.

Multiple ANA Nonprofit Federation event sponsors spoke on background that they are now considering withdrawing from the ANA. “This is just a way for ANA to use nonprofits to shield their for-profit members,” said the chief executive officer of a major sponsor who asked for anonymity until a decision can be reached. The ANA acquired the Data and Marketing Association (formerly the Direct Marketing Association) in May 2018. The DMA, founded in 1917, had long been in financial decline and barely survived a 2009 membership proxy fight, unusual for a nonprofit membership association.

The ANA upset its new nonprofit members just three months after the acquisition by filing a “friend of the court” brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to review a California case that held the Sherwin Williams Company liable for creating a public nuisance (the presence of interior residential lead paint) because it advertised lead paint for then- lawful uses.

The brief was signed on behalf of “all” members of ANA, and at that point all members were listed on the ANA’s website by name. The technical legal question was around any responsibility if Sherwin Williams knew their product was dangerous. The amicus brief from the ANA, however, defended Sherwin Williams for the advertising, not for having lead in the paint.
Leaders at health and environmental organizations were upset by the fact that they were included by association in a brief that defended a company that promoted lead paint.

The new coalition comes at a time when nonprofits are grappling with privacy and data usage issues in general and various specific state regulations on registration and fundraising nexus that might conflict with ANA’s for-profit members.