Tag Archives: Marketing

Lean in for nonprofit leadership

“Lean in” for leadership in a nonprofit career

SherylSandbergLeanInWeb Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook has a new book out.  “Lean In” has generated a lot of media attention. It’s all about women and leadership in the business world. Bottom line: she encourages women to seek leadership-level positions. Listening to the news stories we asked ourselves, “what about the nonprofit sector?”

What does it take to advance to leadership level positions in the nonprofit sector? Our experience has shown that fundraising experience is an important prerequisite for securing an executive position and most importantly for remaining in the position. Related to this is an understanding of fund development and the ability to manage a fundraising operation. These are not the only prerequisite, but it is an important one that is too often overlooked.

If you are working for a nonprofit and want to progress in your career, make your intentions known and begin to prepare yourself. Our guidance relates to building your fundraising skills and network. Here’s why: securing funds from philanthropic sources is often times the primary revenue stream for a nonprofit. Even those funded through government grants or contracts, or through earned income streams, find that philanthropic funding is what makes the difference between a “just getting by” institution and a thriving one. The willingness to raise funds and build a fundraising team provides an organization with the funding and resources it needs.

Lean in and prepare yourself to be a leader. Develop career goals that include responsibility for fundraising. Learn about the different types of fundraising and how they work together. Invest in your education and training. Participate in online and in-person training sessions that expose you to new areas of fundraising and ones that deepen your current skill set. If your employer won’t invest in your professional development, make the investment yourself. Network with people you meet at conferences or online. Ask questions of those who are more experienced. Ask someone from a similar type of organization in another part of the country for a critique of a fundraising project you are working on. Read journals, books and blogs. Get a mentor.

If you don’t currently work for a major nonprofit institution, consider becoming a fundraising volunteer for a local hospital, university or public television station. These institutions typically have more robust fundraising programs than grassroots or mid-sized organizations and can provide exposure to campaigns that include major gift solicitations, annual gifts, special events, direct mail, planned gifts, underwriting and other fundraising programs. You will find opportunities to grow your skills and your network.

Most importantly make it known that you want to learn more about fundraising. Most people don’t embrace fundraising. That’s a mistake you don’t have to make. Lean in and you will find opportunities to learn and ultimately to lead.

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.”  They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them @saadshaw.

Branding your capital campaign

Jennie Winton

Jennie Winton of Mission Minded

Our regular readers know we always push for a clear, concise and compelling case for support. Jennie Winton – a talented marketing strategist – takes it to the next level advocating that nonprofits need more than a case: capital campaigns need a brand. We agree with her. Take a look at her blog and let us know your thoughts…. http://bit.ly/13RiPsO

Know Your Economic Impact

For every dollar invested into your institution what is the return to the community? Is there a social impact? Political impact? Economic impact? How do you measure it? What do you track? These are questions to ask as you consider how to make the case for giving and investing in the non-profits you are involved with.

While some impacts are difficult to measure, and long-term impacts won’t manifest for years or generations, there are also impacts that can be measured. But, you have to set up the processes, methodologies and tracking systems required to collect data that will bear up under closer inspection.

Another way of communicating impact is to measure the economic impact of your organization on the geographic area you serve. An economic impact report can help “reframe” your nonprofit so it can be viewed in its fullest context as a community contributor as well as a solicitor of funding.

When stereotypes are applied nonprofits can be viewed as “takers” – organizations that “beg” for money, or are a “drain” on the community. But this is a distorted image. Especially when it comes to publicly funded institutions such as hospitals and universities. While these receive public funding, they are also major employers with employees whose incomes circulate throughout the community sustaining local businesses large and small. Their purchasing departments contribute to sales and employment for the private sector. Conferences, programs and services attract people to the region who stay in hotels, eat in restaurants, fill their gas tanks, and visit local attractions.

In short, nonprofits are important to a community’s economic ecosystem. When you write a check to a nonprofit you invest in both the organization and the community in which it is located.

Here’s an example. The Jackson State University Center for Business Development and Economic Research recently completed an economic impact report showing that the University contributes an estimated $413 million and 8,700 jobs to Mississippi’s economy on an annual basis. This is a $1.86 return on each dollar invested by the state in the University.

“Jackson State University is truly a major economic engine of not only our city, but the state as a whole,” JSU President Carolyn Meyers said in a press release. “We know that our success fuels the success of Mississippi. As our enrollment continues to grow, we expect our economic impact to be even greater.”

Their payroll is $57 million for 1,542 full-time employees and more than 500 part-time workers. The institution spends an estimated $95 million on local goods and services, and students spent another $85.9 million in local economy, generating $1.4 million in Jackson-metro sales taxes.

It takes time and resources to measure impact, but it’s an investment that pays returns. You have to show your impact.

Websites in the Age of Twitter and Facebook

In the world of Facebook and Twitter we sometimes forget the value of the trusted website. Can’t we say it all in 140 characters? Or a photo? Will the website go the way of the covered wagon?

We were at the Alliance for Nonprofit Excellence Conference “Powerful Networks: Nonprofits, Social Media & Community” this week and attended John Kenyon’s workshops. He set us straight. Kenyon is the Educational Program Manager for the Nonprofit Technology Network, NTEN (www.nten.org).

“While on-line communication tools are valuable, you need one place where you can provide your constituents with both high level and in-depth content and communication. You can tease them with tidbits on twitter and tantalize them with photos on Facebook, but your website is where they come to get the full scoop. And to donate!”

He opened with the basics, asking “What are the search terms someone would use to try and find your organization if they didn’t know you exist?” Good question. Write down the phrases. Google them. See if your organization comes up. As you add content to your website be sure to include those phrases (in a natural way!).

Here’s another great point. For most organizations people are the number one asset. Number two is data. Think about it. Where would your organization be without data regarding people served, program outcomes, donor names, board member email addresses, and other “inconsequential” things like that! Here’s the question John asked, “Does your budgeting reflect the value of data to your organization? Does it even come close to doing so?”

Something to think about.

Here are a few more tidbits: When you are conducting a fundraising campaign make sure it is highlighted on your homepage. Every page on your website should have two items: a Donate Now button and a Subscribe button. Ask everyone you communicate with “What is your preferred method of communication?” Then act on that information. For people who like e-communication, go that route. For those who want to receive a print copy of your newsletter, get one to them! The last tidbit: four things your website should do: build credibility and engage; cultivate; provide “clickability” or interactivity; and provide regularly updated content.

Finally, let us close with our new favorite quote, “Don’t make me hunt for it!” Kenyon emphasized that all sites must have a search function. Again, on every page! We must admit to being number one offenders. John poked fun at us, saying “Your site and blog are so content rich, but how can anyone find what they are looking for??!!?” Our take away: we are getting search buttons for our website and blog. Ah, we all have something to learn!

You can reach John at john@nten.org or follow him on twitter @jakenyon.

No News is Good News?

Is your nonprofit organization getting the media attention it deserves? Do you ask, in frustration, “why do we even bother creating press releases if no-one covers our events?” You are not alone. We can’t promise a cure, but we can help you develop stronger relationships with appropriate media.

Start with identifying which media would be a good fit for the message you want to send, and the people you want to communicate with. Identify media with a similar target. Within a news station, know which news shows or segments would be an ideal fit.

Identify the highest ranking person within the media organization you can secure a meeting with. Ask someone to open the door. “Example, Jeanine, I know you have a relationship with the news director at FOX news – would you be willing to get an appointment for us to meet with her?” Simple, but you have to ask.

Your goal is to cultivate media before you need a story run. Visit media representatives at their offices (always respecting deadlines!). Come prepared. Bring a press kit. If you don’t have one, ask someone with experience to help create one. Make sure your materials make the case for your organization right up front. Who you are and what you do should be spelled out clearly. Accompanying photos will make it come alive. Share your nonprofit’s story in a concise and compelling manner.

During the meeting ask about the newspaper’s interests, goals and target market. Discuss the direction they are seeking to move in, and explore how your nonprofit can help them meet that goal by providing access to experts, reports, data, and human interest stories.

Ask for suggestions on how to improve your press kit, and the best way and time to submit materials. Ask who in specific you should submit information to. And don’t forget to invite them to come see your organization in action.

By meeting in advance with people behind the scenes you can learn a media outlet’s business goals, upcoming focus segments, timeframes, deadlines, and requirements. You want to make it easy for an editor to run your nonprofit’s press release, to cover a news or human interest story that ties back to your organization, and to report live from your event.

Come prepared with how you want to recognize the media throughout the year. Are you looking for a media partner? If so, come with an annual schedule of events and examples of how the work of the nonprofit ties to compelling issues within the community.

Remember – nonprofits have to be all about transparency, accountability and impact. Be open and honest with the press. You want friends. If you are concealing or tell half-truths the media you want as a partner may investigate you. Get on the front page the right way!

Online Communications and Fundraising – Workshop in SF

It’s a new year and time to advance all those projects put on the shelf in 2009. And time to upgrade your already strong skill set. What’s next? Check out the Development Executive’s Roundtable (DER) meeting on the topic of online communications and fundraising. Everything you need to know for $20 PLUS a delicious lunch. ($12 if you are member!). Mark your calendar for Friday January 8, 2010(12:00-1:30 p.m.) Localtion and pricing at end of post! (Read on…)

Your New Year’s Resolution:  Figure Out Online Communications and Fundraising

Here’s the Buzz!

We know: you never had time to wrap your head around “Web 2.0” and now you’re hearing Web 2.0 is over! Seminars and interns are telling you all sorts of frightening/enticing things about what you can do on the internet: Money flows in rivers online! Prospects flock like geese online! Data can be panned like gold at online! E-blast! Blogging! Twitter! Run! Catch up! Arrrggghhh!

Yes, the online landscape changes fast, but you don’t have to keep up with everything: you only need a basic map. In this presentation we’ll draw a map of the kinds of fundraising and communications tools that are available for nonprofits online, and how they connect with each other. We’ll look at your needs and how these tools integrate into an overall strategy. We’ll also look at specific services and providers so you can go straight back to the office and start trying stuff out.

Presenter: Claire Light is a Bay Area writer and cultural worker. She has worked for eleven years in nonprofit administration, particularly arts in the Asian American community. Most recently, she’s been consulting in online communications and fundraising for nonprofits in the Bay Area. Previously she worked as development coordinator for Women’s Initiative for Self Employment, co-founded and served as a senior editor and development director at Hyphen magazine, and was program manager at Kearny Street Workshop.  She currently blogs for Hyphen magazine.

Cost for Luncheon: DER = $12,  non-members = $20.  Lunch is included in your fee.

 Reserve by Wednesday, January 6th Programs often sell-out, so it’s “first come, first served!”

Location: Lighthouse for the Blind, San Francisco, 214 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94102, Near Van Ness or Civic Center MUNI stop; Civic Center BART

Use Your Non-Profit Marketing Dollars Wisely

Sheila E. Lewis, President Flyin’ West Marketing

Sheila E. Lewis, President Flyin’ West Marketing

Fundraising must be tied to marketing. You need to generate awareness and excitement in order to generate revenue. Guest blogger Sheila E. Lewis shares six tips for marketing success.

Marketing is often a management challenge for non-profit organizations. After all, non-profits exist to provide services to targeted communities, not to sell revenue-generating products. Additionally, most small to medium-sized NPOs do not have marketing positions, often assigning communications projects to fundraising professionals.

For many NPOs, spending money on marketing means fewer dollars that could be used for programming and other direct services. However, most non-profit managers understand that communication campaigns are necessary to raise awareness and funds. The conflict between serving clients, building the organization’s brand, and generating funds requires that NPOs maximize limited marketing budgets.

When considering the best allocation of scarce marketing dollars, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How much money do you want to commit to the project? If you don’t have a budget in mind, everything will seem too expensive. You’ll get what you pay for so the least expensive solution may cost you more in the long run.
  2. What results do you want? How will you measure the results? It is important to view marketing dollars as “working” funds for a NPO. Spend with the end in mind.
  3. Who is your target audience and what messages will be most effective? Messages resonate differently with each target audience. It’s important to know who they are and what will motivate them to act.
  4. How many times must your target audience hear or see your message before moving to action? Should you employ more than one communication tool or channel? Does that require several different messages?
  5. How much time do you have before the first materials need to be available? And, how long will the campaign run? It is best to have a project plan that helps keep you and your resources on track—delays cost money.
  6. Who will manage the communication campaign? Will the work be completed in-house or do you require external resources? There are several marketing firms or independent consultants focusing specifically on NPOs and thus bring a heightened sensitivity to your work. You will find a range of fees for these services. Feel comfortable negotiating if you believe the fees to be too high.

You may be able to secure pro bono assistance, but be sure that the firm or individual has the level of experience and the capacity to complete your work successfully and on time.

Either way, it is a good practice to seek referrals from other NPOs whose materials you like. You may also choose to speak with a representative from the local chapter of The American Marketing Association or a non-profit management service organization providing capacity-building support for non-profit organizations. Check references and the work product of any firm or individual before hiring them.

The most effective communication campaigns—whether geared toward a special event, fundraising, or building awareness among your community—require good planning, an appropriate budget and skilled resources for implementation. Know your target audience and speak their language.

Sheila E. Lewis is the President of Flyin’ West Marketing in Fremont, CA, a full service marketing firm with several clients in the non-profit sector. www.flyinwestmarketing.com. (510) 668.0351