Nonprofit organizations are businesses, not unlike where you buy your groceries, get your hair done, or buy your kids school supplies. But what makes your nonprofit corporation different from those is that you prioritize revenue in terms of fulfilling your mission whereas the for-profit business prioritizes revenue for the sake of the revenue itself.
How your nonprofit is EXACTLY like a business is that you need to utilize many of the same tools for successful start up and growth. You need a business plan, a marketing plan, a budget, and staff or volunteers….all for the purpose of executing and accomplishing your mission and goals. Because nonprofits are often providing for a cause or a service and not a tangible, out-the-door consumable, generating revenue can be a challenge. So I want to share a few ways to overcome challenges to growth at any stage in the life of the non-profit.
Donor Development. Because donors are the lifeblood of your organization, you need to be meeting with them as often as possible, thanking them for past support and updating them on your organization’s status. While you can’t have lunch with everyone who has written a check, you can be sure to connect with those who are top level donors. Share with them the stories about the people you serve who are at the heart of your organization’s mission and get them excited about their involvement in those successes. Let them know their dollars were well spent, thank them for their commitment and partnership and continually inform them about the great things that are happening. But no matter what, make sure you are thanking every single donor who supports your organization in some way, shape or form.
Marketing Strategy. Make sure your marketing materials are current and that you have a robust communications strategy that: 1) keeps your donors informed 2) provides opportunity for new donor acquisition 3) interfaces with the media and 4) continually communicates your mission and shares your stories. Email marketing still plays a significant role for nonprofit organizations as it provides a means to stay in front of your supporters without anything more than their consent to receive emails. Email marketing tools like Mailchimp, Constant Contact and AWeber are examples of affordable options for every size organization and provide templates for the less experienced email designer as well as professional services for getting the custom design you want.
Your website needs to be designed in a responsive format. This means that when its viewed on smaller devices like phones and tablets, it adjusts to its environment instead of becoming impossibly microscopic. The reason this is important is because so many more internet users are looking at websites on their mobile devices and not always their desktops. Don’t make the mistake of losing supporters and followers because your website is difficult to view on these smaller devices. Yes, this will mean a website redesign is in order, but it will be an investment worth making. Don’t cut corners on your internet presence, that’s often how the people in your community first come to know you.
Valued Volunteer Resources. Create a culture where your staff and volunteers can’t help but to share your mission with the people in their world. They love what your organization stands for, that’s why they are involved. Create incentives like volunteer appreciation events and monthly recognitions so that they get more than lip-service for their time – they need to actually feel appreciated and valued. When its clear that an organization values all of its resources and prioritizes its “human” resources, this can inspire others to get involved as well.
Leadership. The face of your organization, whether an Executive Director, board president, operations manager, or marketing/PR director, needs to be someone who reflects the values of the organization, is able to provide clear and concise information about its mission, goals and needs, and is capable of inspiring others to participate, support or just simply share about the organization to other people in other spheres of influence. This person is the ambassador for your cause, so if they struggle to lead the organization internally or externally, they may not be the right person for the position. Don’t underestimate the need for someone who can speak to a crowd of 20 or 200 who also has the disposition to connect with volunteers.
Co-Branding & Collaboration. Find ways to collaborate with other groups and organizations in your community. Doing so doesn’t mean sacrificing current or potential donor dollars to other nonprofits. You want to be seen as a member of an interactive community, not like you’re living on a nonprofit island and no other mission matters. An aspect of reputation management for any business or organization is a willingness to be altruistically involved in a community. If you are involved in an art museum, you could plan to collaborate with local children’s organizations to do workshops. If you represent a cat rescue you might find ways to work with local medical facilities to fulfill animal-assisted therapy needs. In the world of marketing, this is called “co-branding,” a strategic marketing partnership between two separate organizations who collaborate to generate interest from their respective customers. The success of one brand provides for the success of the partner brand.
Growing your nonprofit organization requires a great deal of attention to donor development, volunteer management & support, community engagement, strong leadership, and marketing. Every nonprofit who wants to fulfill their mission and achieve their goals needs to work hard in these 5 areas. I hope the ideas I’ve shared help you to continue to grow and move your organization forward to the next level.
There’s nothing more important to the success of a nonprofit organization than the quality of its communications. From your brochures, website, and public speaking events, your message has one shot at being received. Once you lose someone’s attention, whether because of poor presentation or inaccurate information, its difficult to get it back. The same is true for your digital email campaigns. Don’t underestimate the impact of a quality e-newsletter. Though your organization is considered a charity, people are often not that charitable if content is sloppy, poorly formatted…..or worse, out of date. The following 5 tips will help to improve your organization’s email campaigns and make it easier to reach your intended audience.
1. Design Emails to be Mobile Friendly (Responsive)
By the end of 2014, 66% of emails were opened on a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet and that number is only growing. Designing your emails to be mobile responsive helps them make the most impact when opened by your supporters. Emails that lack the responsive design are impossible to read, creating a lost opportunity. Don’t encourage your readers to hit the delete button, give them something they are able to read. Platforms like Mailchimp and Constant Contact offer free or affordable options for setting up your email the right way.
2. Quality Content
Email is an opportunity. Once an email is opened, you have a real chance to make an impact on a supporter. Be sure all information sent is up to date including upcoming events, schedules, donation figures, etc. Share stories about your volunteers, or if possible, features about the people your organization serves. Donors want to know that their money is going to work for the stated cause of an organization and email is one way—and an easy way—to deliver those details.
3. Send Email Campaigns with Regularity and Respect
Have an email campaign schedule that your supporters remember. Its recommended not to send on Mondays and Fridays, and when you send do it early enough in the day that they will be opened and read. If sent too late in the day, your readers may not get a chance to look as their day comes to a close. You should also avoid sending too frequently. As soon as someone believes their email box is being inundated with email blasts, they will unsubscribe.
4. Always Include a Clear Call to Action
One of the ways you can determine the success of an email blast is by looking at which links were clicked or actions were taken. For example, if you put out a call for new volunteers and include a link or email address for those who are interested to respond to, you can begin to see the effectiveness of your emails. Give your readers something to do in each email! This will become a helpful metric in determining your overall success.
5. Make it Easy to Opt In to Your Organization’s Email List
Make it easy for your supporters to opt-in to your email list via social media and your website. Have it on the contact page, footer and even on Facebook. Once they are on the list, encourage them to forward it to friends so that they can opt in too. Your supporters are your biggest advocates and can be a huge benefit to your cause.
Email campaigns can assist an organization in expanding its reach and effectively promoting its cause. Contact us to discuss how Sarah Flashing Creative & Consulting can help you be more successful in promoting your cause.
If you’re just getting started in email marketing or
considering taking the leap, you may be wondering about what it takes to grow
your email list. How do you get people to sign up to receive your emails? It’s not
Here are some great ways—online and off—to capture email
leads and continue to generate awareness of your products and services. Its
certainly not an exhaustive list, but these are the key ways to stay connected
to the people who are already interested in what you do!
- Website and social media sign-up forms. After setting up an email marketing account, there is code that can be generated to place on your website. Visitors to your site will fill out the form and, like magic, they are now a member of your list! Facebook also has sign up form integration capabilities for your business page, so make sure you take advantage of these digital means of gathering leads.
- Special events. Photobooths aren’t just for weddings anymore! Corporate events, conferences, and special storefront events are great opportunities to hire social media savvy photobooths. Your customers will want to get in on the action with your business’ fancy filter and share their pictures in social media. But first, you can capture their email address and cell phone number where the image is sent. You get their contact info for a longer-term marketing strategy and in the short term, they become an influencer for your business on their social media page. Learn more about this strategy from Midwest Selfies.
- Point of Sale. At some point during the check-out process, just ask! Utilize a POS system that allows you to gather information about your customers and enter their email address right there—with their permission. This will increase your ability to promote your future sales and events. If your POS system doesn’t accommodate the gathering of that information, simply ask and have a growing list you can enter in to your email marketing platform later. This can also be an aspect of your online shopping cart check-out process.
- Contests. People love FREE and will almost always give you an email address for a chance to win something. Have a fishbowl for business cards or sign up slips and once a month plan some sort of give-away. In the meantime, you’re growing your list and increasing sales! The old saying that you have to spend money to make money is true, but you don’t always have to spend much to see a return on your investment.
- Special offers. Do your customers want to get 20% off in the store or online? Special offers to anyone who provides an email address is a strategic way to gather more leaders. Not only do people love a good sale, but their willingness to spend money makes them a lot lead and a valuable member of your email list. You can utilize this method with free downloads on your website as well.
Email capture is worth the effort because it keeps you in
front of the people who are already interested in what you do. Don’t neglect the
opportunities to connect with people who have already made purchases or have sought
information. You’re on their radar, so don’t let them forget about you!