I recently made the jump from the corporate world to a nonprofit and was asked if I had any insights on successful fundraising from a digitally plugged-in perspective. So, it got me thinking…in a sense, fundraising for the digitally-powered nonprofit is not so dissimilar from consumer product marketing.
The difference for a nonprofit is that instead of trying to sell a particular brand’s product, you’re selling your organizations cause, or it’s mission, rather. And to do that, just like any good brand marketer, you have to know your consumer—what they’re interests are and how they intersect with yours.
Today, technology and software have given us all the capabilities to mine limitless amounts of data, but unlike many consumer brands, nonprofits aren’t always looking at that data closely enough and when they do, they don’t always know what to do with it (not an uncommon predicament). As a nonprofit, especially those presently plugged in to the digital landscape, knowing your consumer and understanding their interests, wants and behaviors is tantamount to keeping them engaged….and, ultimately, coming back with their pocketbooks.
Let’s take the example of a marketing-savvy brand, such as a hip, global beauty brand, for example. One of the ways expert brands keep their consumers engaged is by co-creating the conversation with them. Many brands have shifted their marketing strategies to a more tuned in and plugged in model in which they’re no longer just talking to their audience—telling them what to buy or what to say—they’re now listening to their consumers more than ever and, as a result, they’re learning more than ever. Moreover, they understanding how valuable that listening and learning is to tailoring their communications, their content and the tools they deliver to mobilize their audiences to action—in a brand’s case, the purchasing of a product.
Turning now to the nonprofit, I think it’s worth looking at one of the best examples of successful fundraising efforts—and probably the example most nonprofits keep turning to—charity:water and, more specifically, their online portal, mycharity:water. What’s more to be learned from them, aside from the convenience they provide their audiences for taking action (i.e donating), is that they clearly recognize the distinct value of this particular channel’s fundraising potential. In the case of online, it is clear that they not only resource it appropriately internally but that they are also mining insights and data to continuously get to know their audiences better and adjust how they engage with them accordingly.
Knowing who it is that you’re engaging, what their interests are (aside from sharing a passion for your nonprofit mission), and how they’re engaging with you across all channels are all critical components to successful fundraising. Secondly, letting data help drive your decision-making is key, whether it’s mixing up your content, changing your organization’s tone or style, or injecting new creativity in your next campaign.
Interactive Infographic: Can America Be Energy Independent?
Join us every Wednesday for the next two months, when we’ll be graphically exploring these questions and more with interactive infographics that go behind the issues. Today, we’re launching with one of key issues that underpins our environmental and economic future: energy independence.
This infographic is a collaboration between GOOD and Other Means, with support from MTV
“ Digital Disruptors Currently Ruling the World
Hot Off the Press from The Newsweek Daily Beast:
The Newsweek Daily Beast just published its Oscars-style, Digital Power 100 List. Or, as I re-titled it, “Another 100 amazing ideas I didn’t think of.”
Yet. Anyone have Jack Dorsey’s number? I think I’ve got great idea #101.
I just couldn’t resist sharing this…imagine my delight when I stumbled upon this giant two-story gnome! Thank God the shipper included a “This Side Up” label (look closely, just below its beard)…clearly someone at some point learned their lesson when they tried to balance it on its head.
I guess sometimes it doesn’t hurt to state the obvious…
Sometimes it just helps to break it down.
While by no means is the title of this post intended to suggest that any one of us—myself included—is of sub-standard intelligence, I do find that when you get bogged down by the big stuff, it sometimes helps to slice it up and make it into snack-size tasks.
So, before you melt under the “how will I ever get this off the ground?” and before you start making grand promises to anyone (“…not only that, it will also make you coffee in the morning!”), try this easy 10-step checklist out for size:
- Enculturate yourself (get to know relevant cultural values, influences and processes)
- Identify the need(s)
- Establish the objective(s)
- Assess the audience(s)
- Identify key stakeholders
- Devise a roadmap
- Identify potential partners
- Establish milestones and desired outcomes (metrics!)
- What are you waiting for? Get going!
Oh, and three things to keep in mind once you’re on your way:
- Be flexible
- Be confident
As my best friend from high school used to like to say on the dancefloor…”Break it down!”
“ Innovations That Will Change Your Tomorrow: Good Reading from the NY Times
One great lesson I’ve learned from my current CEO is that great leaders inspire others to dream while giving them permission to fail.
But the secret key to that lesson, found in the fine print, is that if you’re going to fail, fail fast and fail cheap.
I wonder how these future innovations will fare:
Have you ever reached the end of a project or a “successful” launch only to find yourself asking…now what? I know I have. In fact, there have been more than one occasions in my career when I mistakenly assumed that my successful strategy would easily and naturally take on an equally fantastic post-launch life of its own.
Since those days, and the difficult lessons learned, I have come to realize the great difference—and great value—in distinguishing, from the get go, how to strategize success versus how to implement a successful strategy. There is a fundamental, yet nuanced, difference between the two and all too often I have had the best intentions come to a full halt when success metrics haven’t been clearly defined from day one. Don’t misunderstand me, both involve strategic thinking, but only one approach is really geared towards sustainable success.
Want an example? Let’s say you’re given a challenge. You do your research, you come up with what seems like a brilliant idea (tsk tsk) and creative plan, and you tie a neat ribbon around the whole package convinced that you’ve just crafted a successful strategy. You hand it over to the client or get senior management buy-in, start planning the roadmap, and eventually get to your “finish line”—in many cases this may take the form of a launch—only to have that success soon tempered by the nagging question of…now what? It turns out, you may have neglected to think about one very important question before coming up with your strategy. You forgot to ask…”And then?”
Sure, success can be measured in many ways and no matter what approach you take, it’s important to start measuring impact the moment you cross that finish line. But sometimes retro-fitting metrics to gauge your success doesn’t always translate into usable, actionable information. Take the classic example of launching a Facebook page or starting a Twitter feed. At the end of the day, we are all asking ourselves, “So, what DO ‘Likes’ get me at the end of the day? What then if I have [insert number here] number of followers?”
To each person, brand, company or non-profit, success looks different. There are many roads and many possible outcomes. What’s important to remember is that to have a truly successful strategy, you must define what success looks like to YOU—your campaign, your launch, your partnership—and define those metrics and milestones you want to be sure you hit along the way. Most importantly, be sure to ask yourself, at the very earliest planning stages and also at each milestone along the way…And then?
You can rest assured they will evolve and probably change a bit as your journey down your strategy’s path, but at least by having what I call an “And then? Strategy”, you won’t find yourself on the other end of a finish line asking, “Now what?”
NGOs don’t always realize the value they bring to the table when it comes to seeking corporate partnerships. So, the first rule of thumb, to quote an ancient maxim, is to “know thyself.”
NGOs have a built-in stakeholder group that is, more often than not, a completely new audience for a corporation. Today more than ever, the audience—the consumer, the listener—is at the center of everything. Particularly, what NGOs have going for them is that their audiences truly believe in them…they support what they’re doing and what they’re saying, from both a “head” and “heart” space. The root of that support is due in part to how NGOs communicate. They speak a very human language and have a ready supply of incredible stories to tell because they’re living them every day.
This is an important point to realize because corporations spend a lot of time and effort trying to “humanize” the way they speak to their audiences so that their audiences can better relate to them (some do this better than others). Corporations are also always looking for a compelling story to tell—one that reflects, or in some cases invents, a point of view for them. And it’s combining points one and two that are at the heart of how many corporations structure their attempts to connect to new audiences, particularly audiences that aren’t always a natural fit for them.
Now, enter the NGO with their wealth of stories (stories about the work they’re doing out in the field, behind the scenes, and in the most challenging conditions, that you couldn’t make up even if you wanted to), their passionate supporters and their approachable, at times humble, way of communicating and suddenly there’s a lot of value to be had.
But, don’t get too complacent, NGOs, because if you’ve ever worked on the corporate side of things you know how strapped for time many executives are. Between innumerable meetings about meetings and the sheer volume of workload, it’s rare that a corporate executive is able to find the time to sit and truly think through new partnership scenarios or new strategies for outreach. For this, I reference a great quote from the former CEO of Western Union, Christina Gold:
“Those NGOs that clearly have done their homework in advance enable us to have a much more productive conversation. As a business person, I appreciate it when potential partners respect our time by coming prepared with ideas that clearly resonate with who we are and what we value as a company and a corporate citizen.” http://philanthropy.com/article/…