FOCUS AND SIMPLIFY FUNDRAISING: The most successful nonprofits will focus and simplify fundraising and their overall approach to communication. This doesn’t mean they won’t use a sophisticated multi-channel integrated marketing approach. It means they will focus on the essentials and simplify the fundraising.
Here are three essentials to focus and simply fundraising programs:
Retention, Retention, Retention
Stop endlessly chasing new donors and reactivating old donors – yes you need to do this to a degree but you also have to know when to cut-bait – and successful nonprofits will cut-bait a lot sooner then in the past. Be obsessive over connecting with true advocates rather than increasing your donor base file size. Bigger is no longer better. It’s about quality. And it’s about building long-term sustainable relationships. The most successful nonprofits will institutionalize a 100% retention policy and will become relentless in this pursuit. Using techniques that delight the supporter and draw them into something bigger than themselves.
Forward-thinking nonprofits will focus on key constituents and will think in terms of smaller groups. They will reduce the fair-weather friends and amplify the existing strong relationships. They won’t kick people to the curb, but will put a stronger emphasis on developing deeper relationships with a key group of donors, volunteers, and other advocates. An eye will be on supporters that can become die-hard advocates of the organization. Don’t assume these will be found only in the major donor segment. Advocates are the people that will stick with you over the long-haul and be more valuable over the long-term. It isn’t about the onetime big gift as much as it will be about sustained giving over a long period. Plus, as advocates, they will tirelessly draw others to your organization through their personal network (think shared experiences).
Engaging Storytelling and Messaging
The tried and true methods of the past simply don’t fly any longer, especially superficial and one-dimensional messages. The most innovative nonprofits will reinvent how they tell their story and craft their messages, including fundraising appeals, to every constituent based on her persona. Messages will become simpler, more focused, yet deeply engaging. Furthermore, the story will not be about the nonprofit per se nor even simply about the changed lives – it will need to encompass a larger perspective and draw the donor into a relationship with the person served by the charity. Volunteering has grown in popularity, as have fun-runs and other participatory fundraisers, due to the direct involvement that satisfies the heart on a deep intrinsic, altruistic level. But unfortunately, not all charities rely on volunteers nor are there limitless opportunities for volunteering in most cases. So the nonprofit’s challenge is to bring that level of engagement into an ongoing relationship that may not be as participative.
Key take-away: Obsess over retaining your donors but know when to cut-bait. Do whatever it takes to engage them and retain them. Look at your database differently – think smaller. Focus on the low-lying fruit but also focus on those donors that can be your advocate for the short and long-term regardless of the financial potential. And lastly, seek ways to tell your story better while drawing people into a deeper altruistic experience that is fulfilling for them and beneficial to the charity.
Eric is a senior-level marketing executive with expertise in all facets of for-profit and nonprofit management, strategic planning, marketing, fundraising, and leading cross-functional teams facing complex marketing, management and fundraising challenges.