Check out this fantastic promotional video from our longtime client, the Los Angeles Philharmonic. We love the performing arts. We love L.A.!
Check out this fantastic promotional video from our longtime client, the Los Angeles Philharmonic. We love the performing arts. We love L.A.!
by Mark Mitchell
Vice President of Business Development
Nonprofit organizations are always looking for new and innovative ways to attract and acquire new donors. The traditional way of doing it – direct mail – brings in a very small return, and until recently, acquiring new donors by phone was cost-prohibitive for most organizations; it just wasn’t profitable enough to justify the expense.
But now, because of Care2, change.org and other online petition sources, a growing number of organizations are enjoying successful and flourishing telephone acquisition campaigns that convert “Web Activist Non-Donors” to monthly sustainers.
There is definitely an art to this process, and the first and most important thing to keep in mind is that this type of program will only work in the context of a sustainer campaign. Targeting Web Activists with a one-time gift campaign, with an average gift of $25, will not cover the cost. Strategically designed sustainer campaigns on the other hand, with an average monthly gift of $10 or higher, have proven wildly successful in acquiring Web Activists, who view it as a manageable amount to pay each month for a cause they truly believe in, yet over the course of a year, they are making a total commitment of $120 to the organization, which, over time, covers the cost of the campaign and then some.
SD&A’s National Call Center specializes in Web Activist acquisition campaigns and routinely delivers an average sustainer rate of 2.5%-3%, often times higher, sometimes up to 10%. On average, another 6%-9% of Web Activist Non-Donors will make a one-time gift when called. In most cases, this type of calling program will pay for itself in less than two years.
Even still, some organizations are reluctant to use telefundraising, especially acquisition telefundraising, because they fear it will take money away from their other marketing channels. I like to think of acquisition calling as the last line of defense. You’ve already mailed them, you’ve already emailed them, and they still haven’t donated. So what do you do? You call them. If you don’t call them, it’s lost revenue.
For the past five years, SD&A has been managing a sustainer acquisition program for a national, nonprofit environmental organization. In that time, we’ve called more than 2 million petition signers from Care2 on behalf of this organization. These were non-donors who signed a variety of petitions supporting the organization’s causes. Of all the Web Activists we reached, we were able to convert 2.5% of them into monthly givers with an average sustainer gift of $11 a month. For this organization, telephone acquisition calling has not only turned out to be cost-effective, but extremely profitable as well.
As I mentioned earlier, there’s an art to this process. After a Web Activist Non-Donor signs an online petition, that person will receive a series of three emails to on-board them into the organization’s acquisition program. The first email is an engagement survey with a membership ask on the back end. The second email is an action alert with a donation ask on the back end. The third email is a straight up appeal for a donation. As part of this process, Web Activists are entered into a campaign arc designed to move them up a ladder of engagement (from signing a petition to participating in a phone tree to attending a protest event, for example), and when the time is right, they will get a phone call inviting them to become a monthly donor.
When calling Web Activist Non-Donors, it’s important to remember that some organizations have the benefit of strong name recognition, while others do not. In many cases, Web Activists have signed a petition because of a specific cause (like helping Syrian children or fighting to stop oil drilling in the Arctic) and not because of the organization itself. In this scenario, the script should open with the subject matter, referencing the specific cause first – the reason they signed the petition – before getting into where we’re calling from.
Another strategy is to only call “super activists”, those who have signed at least three (preferably five) petitions in a 12-month period. Or sometimes, organizations will choose to call “recent advocates”, those who have signed a petition within the past month.
We’ve also found that this type of calling works best when the messaging remains fluid. We were surprised to learn, for example, that many Web Activists who first became involved with the organization when they signed a Clean Energy petition eventually joined as monthly donors because of an animal/wildlife message that had nothing to do with the Clean Energy petition.
Even when donors say no to a monthly gift over the phone, we’ve discovered that Web Activist calling is still beneficial because it helps to drive higher overall giving rates online and through the mail. Experience tells us that donors are ten times more likely to give to the organization through another channel, even if they say no over the phone.
To learn more on how your organization can benefit from a telephone acquisition campaign, please contact Mark Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org or (323) 810-0134.
Dear SD&A Telemarketing Staff,
1. Our patrons described you as kind, knowledgeable, caring, and enthusiastic. They felt you were “not the average telemarketing call”. Even those with some with mild annoyance in their tones still commented on the quality of the calls. Annoyance, frustration and the feeling of being “called too much” is part of the gig, but what makes you exceptional is your care for our patrons and the LA Phil.
2. You provide an invaluable service. Of the new subscribers we talked to, 80% of them subscribed because of a phone call or because they saw a table at their concert. Subscriptions are vitally important to the LA Phil and you are successfully capturing those orders through every channel and interaction available to you.
3. You really know how to sell. We heard from many patrons who would have never considered subscribing if it weren’t for your phone calls. You broke down all of their barriers (too expensive, too far to travel, too cumbersome, too inflexible, too much hassle, etc.) and gave them a new perspective on subscribing and how they could enjoy LA Phil concerts throughout the season, on their terms.
4. You bring tremendous joy and fulfillment to so many across all corners of Los Angeles. Many would not attend without your phone call and they are therefore grateful for it. You encourage them to get off the couch, out of the house, and explore their city through attending LA Phil concerts. There are thousands of people whose lives are enriched by the concerts you enable them to attend.
Our research firm who deals with nonprofits from around the country commented on how rare it is to receive so many positive compliments from patrons regarding our telemarketing staff.
Thank you for all that you do for the LA Phil. You have elevated the experiences of our loyal patrons.
With gratitude and care,
Director, Audience Strategies and Insights, Los Angeles Philharmonic
For more information on SD&A’s services, please contact Mary Jane Avans (Vice President, Business Development) at email@example.com or (678) 904-1583.
With a new MBA and a fresh promotion under her belt, Elizabeth sat down with our senior staff writer to discuss the most important advice she gives clients, the things she loves most about her new job, and the reason SD&A’s boutique phone rooms are so vital to keeping the arts alive in America.
SD&A: Name one of the biggest challenges facing arts organizations and tell us how ATC campaigns are designed to help them overcome this challenge.
ELIZABETH: I have so much respect for the dedication of micro staffs at performing arts organizations and the amount of hard work they can handle. Some of the organizations we work with in the ATC have only 2-3 people in their marketing and development departments. They need the revenue streams that telemarketing generates, but the reality is that telemarketing campaigns are huge undertakings. If it weren’t for the ATC and the services we provide, tapping into these revenue streams might not be feasible for smaller organizations, either from a budgeting perspective or from a management perspective. ATC campaigns make it possible for us to offer onsite-size solutions and service to performing arts organizations in a call center scenario.
What do you enjoy most about your job as Director of ATC Operations?
Number one, the people. I work with a team of managers who have honed their craft and together bring over 100 years of managerial experience to the table. Beyond that, they are just amazing human beings: artists, advocates, life-long students and educators. And that’s just the SD&A team. One of the things I love most about our clients is that they work to bring beauty to the world through art. I get to spend my days speaking with leaders at world-renowned arts organizations, and when I travel to meet with them in person, I get to visit some of the most beautiful artistic venues in the world.
For clients, what are the advantages of choosing an ATC campaign?
We’re like that boutique winery that’s a best-kept secret. The setting is intimate, it feels like family, and the product is carefully crafted with attention to detail by a professional management team that has extensive experience in nonprofit sales and fundraising. The wealth of knowledge in our ATC brain trust is pretty remarkable. Beyond that, we all just enjoy what we do and we love working together, so it makes for a great atmosphere for our callers and great relationships with our clients.
Before you joined the SD&A team, you worked for one of our competitors. What makes our company stand out from the rest?
The relationships. When I first started working for SD&A, I remember sitting in on (Account Executive) Lucy Schroepfer’s weekly meetings and thinking, “Wow! The clients are enjoying this!” There are deep professional relationships that stem from the honesty and transparency that SD&A provides. We build our relationships based on trust, and while it’s certainly a lot more fun to deliver great news, like surpassing a goal or bringing in a record-high gift, we always paint a full picture of the full campaign story, which increases the trust. Beyond that, it’s the credibility that the SD&A name has in the marketplace. We’re known for delivering creative and individual campaign design to every single client. That’s one of the reasons I’m so proud of the work our ATC staff accomplishes each day. They’re bringing the same level of service we provide to our largest onsite clients into a call center setting so smaller clients can succeed. And to me that’s what makes SD&A so great. We love and care about the arts and bringing beauty to the world, and when our smallest clients win, that means we’re bringing that same beauty and joy to communities of all sizes, all across the country.
What is the most important piece of advice you give to new clients before they launch an ATC campaign?
As much as you can, treat us like your in-house staff. We want to hear it all. We want as much information as possible because it helps us shape the message and mirror your organization’s effort from a different state. And I think that’s just good business practice in general. I realize there is only so much time in the day, the week, but the more you talk with us and tell us what is going on in your department, your organization, your community, the better we get to know you and your patrons and your future patrons.
What’s the best business or leadership advice you’ve ever received?
Wow, so much. I’ve had some great leaders to look up to throughout the years, so it’s tough to pick just one. Here are a few of my favorites:
What do you do for enjoyment when you’re not working?
I’ve found some free time again now that I’m finished with my MBA program, so right now I’m really enjoying spending quality time with my husband — who also has a long history of working with nonprofit arts organizations — and our kids, Matthias and Mariana (5 years-old and 3 years-old respectively) and our cat Edward (11). We love to be outside exploring or in the water. We cook a lot and love introducing our kids to new things: singing, plays, art museums and travel. We also love attending live performances – we go to a lot of concerts, plays and ballets.
As we head into the 2017 Public Media Development and Marketing Conference, I was asked to provide an overview of the state of digital fundraising based on the work I have been doing for Greater Public and the many observations and conversations I have had with front-line staff over the past two years.
As I prepared this, I kept in mind this accompanying overview piece about the financial and service strength of public radio. As it explains, revenues continue to expand, driven in large part by public radio’s growing role in news.
But as that analysis also suggests, the picture is much less certain when we instead look at public radio’s digital strategy, which will shape our fundraising results in the decade ahead.
In some of the more developed areas of digital fundraising, like email and online pledging, we can see advances in performance that reflect 10 to 20 years’ worth of collective experience. The newer channels, like mobile and social media, are far less developed, with only a few stations making headway through a combination of adequate staffing, sufficient investment, and internal station readiness to adapt to new tools.
Focusing on the full range of digital development practices, here is my view of the state of digital fundraising for public radio as we head to San Francisco:
The online fundraising forms and functions, including fundraising emails, used by public radio stations have improved over the past few years. These improvements include:
That said …
This is where public broadcasting now falls short. Too many stations rely on “what we’ve always done” or “what we think works” without actually testing these ideas and practices.
Even some of the best-funded large-market stations do not test digital fundraising practices at an advanced level.
This systemic weakness showed up in last year’s mobile testing project organized by the Station Resource Group. In that project, eight stations worked together to sharpen their mobile fundraising practices. A few weeks into the project, the consultants were already noting in their feedback that stations “did not have a culture of testing,” and only a few stations had in-house staff experienced in the use of digital testing platforms.
What does that mean?
Advanced digital fundraising programs test everything. They test the effect of using the word “Donate” versus “Join.” They test the color of donate buttons and the use of layouts and fields in their forms. Everything is subjected to A/B testing, a standard practice in digital marketing that tests different versions of the same web page, email or app to determine what provides the best results.
That ethic of “test everything” doesn’t appear in most public broadcasting development (or digital service) shops. Even when a station has some interest in testing, workloads leave very little time for identifying and activating testing software. In mobile, the number of digital fundraising transactions is still too low to generate statistically reliable results.
Stations reporting the best digital fundraising performance are always looking for practices that have already been tried and tested in the larger nonprofit sector beyond broadcasting.
This willingness to borrow, or adapt, already proven practices has enabled us to advance many other aspects of public media fundraising practice. For example, successful fundraising techniques for direct mail, telemarketing and canvassing were first developed elsewhere and then “imported” by public radio stations. Encouraging sustainer giving was already a firmly established practice among nonprofits in Canada and Europe before we picked it up and applied it to public media in the United States.
We need to do the same thing with all aspects of digital fundraising.
For legacy membership to work, almost any station can subscribe to Target Analytics or the Contributor Development Partnership’s National Reference File to share and compare stations’ renewal rates, average revenue per donor, percent of sustainers, and other useful numbers.
At the moment, nothing comparable exists for public radio digital fundraising, though nationwide studies identify digital fundraising metrics for the nonprofit world in general, notably the Nonprofit Technology Network’s 2016 study done pro bono by digital agency M&R.
Across the NPR/PBS universe:
Why should we be sharing information about email? Because:
The next generation of e-commerce — and “e-giving” — will happen via mobile platforms.
As a system, we are making some progress in terms of mobile-based content delivery via station apps, NPR One, podcasts and Passport (on the PBS side), reflecting a digital world where on-demand content is customized to user interests.
But integrating membership fundraising into that process is a whole different story.
State-of-the-art mobile giving requires a combination of great design, easy payment processing and seamless integration with dozens of different phone carriers.
Large-scale mobile fundraising campaigns usually require an intermediary, usually a company that specializes in mobile campaigns and works out necessary systems and protocols with phone carriers, gift processors and end users. Convenient “one-click” mobile giving requires advanced systems that link phone numbers to the donor’s bank accounts or credit cards.
This is a level of technical sophistication that few stations are prepared to handle.
Some kind of collective service purchase might seem like a practical solution here. But anyone who has been through the process of making a systemwide decision about fundraising technology realizes how difficult that negotiation would be.
This raises a basic question for stations: If we’re not ready to commit to a shared mobile communication and fundraising system — and don’t even know what that would look like — then how can we prepare for the transaction opportunities that will no doubt arise from the world’s most popular technology?
Given the importance of mobile for content delivery, our ability to capture sustaining revenue for digital service will force us to connect the content and fundraising sides of our stations’ mobile communications efforts.
Social media continues to perplex and yet excite stations due to its massive reach and (allegedly) low cost. But when used as just another channel for broad fundraising appeals, nonprofits have largely been disappointed with the results, except when the appeals are connected to hot-button political issues.
Looking outside public media, we can see other nonprofits using Facebook as a donor-acquisition channel because it produces a higher ROI than direct mail or telemarketing. My sense is some stations will begin testing paid social media campaigns and, in fact, I have spoken with a number of stations already who intend to increase their spending on Facebook ads in the coming year.
Many nonprofits have begun testing the use of Facebook to increase participation at events, with messaging that treats followers as members of a fan club or “tribe.” For example, a recent peer-to-peer test of the “PBS Nerd” theme at 14 stations drew a high turnout at events advertised on Facebook. Just as importantly, all stations involved found that 70 to 90 percent of the event attendees were new “prospects” who were not previously part of their contact database.
In general, this suggests that ticketed events or appeals based on a focused, timely offer or activity do best in terms of fundraising via Facebook. In other words, a Facebook post about the importance of supporting classical music or journalism may not generate the same level of traction compared to an invitation to a performance or a round-table discussion of an important issue.
All of which is good news for public media fundraising and support. First, Facebook does more than get people to events in large numbers. It gets new people to events. Secondly, the PBS Nerd “tribe” of children and their parents who responded to a post specifically serving the fans’ interests is a promising sign for public media and its aging audience.
Of course, this is only one example of the untapped potential for fundraising and audience involvement represented by social media platforms. Much more testing and research needs to be done if public radio stations are to develop social media strategies that produce real results.
My hope is that during the PMDMC conference and beyond, stations will begin to approach digital fundraising with a single question in mind: By responding to user needs and interest at every point of a digital interaction, how can we convert our audience into fans, constituents and sustaining members, ensuring the future financial security of public media?
Having recently authored a PBS white paper, Dick McPherson has led efforts to help PBS and NPR stations build their membership programs and has coached online news organizations in the use of crowdfunding and content sharing for fundraising. Dick recently directed the creation of a digital fundraising self-assessment tool for Greater Public’s website. He currently advises Arizona PBS (Phoenix) on digital and mobile strategies and serves as the principal digital fundraising adviser to the Public Media Futures Forums.
WASHINGTON – The 12 million people who visited national parks in Arizona last year spent more than $995 million with nearby businesses, a $63 million increase from the year before, the National Park Service said.
The service’s annual Visitor Spending Effects Report said that spending supported more than 15,000 jobs and generated $1.5 billion in economic activity for the state.
That was part of a national record 331 million visitors to the 471 National Park Service sites across the country in 2016. They spent $18.4 billion on lodging, food, gas, admissions, local transportation and other fees, generating an estimated $34.9 billion in economic activity.
“National Parks are America’s treasure, which provide magnificent outdoor recreation opportunities and serve as economic engines for local communities,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in a statement with the April report. “With continued record visitation it’s time to start thinking about accessibility and infrastructure.”
But experts in Arizona said it’s past time to think about improving infrastructure, saying long-overdue maintenance could “ultimately put Arizona’s cash cow at risk.” And one said that early indications on Trump administration plans to spend on Interior and the National Park Service “aren’t good.”
“The tourism and dollars related to tourism in Arizona are really the backbone of our state’s economy,” said Roger Clark, program director for the Grand Canyon Trust. “Yet, neither state nor federal agencies really invest what is needed to make sure that the Grand Canyon remains the desirable destination it is today.”
A Senate bill introduced in March would dedicate more than $10 billion over the next 30 years to park maintenance, but it has yet to get a hearing. Clark said the investment in infrastructure pales in comparison to the value parks bring to the state’s economy.
“We’re enjoying the economic benefits of the park without making investments necessary to ensure its quality and availability for future generations,” he said.
He said the aging water system in the Grand Canyon is in dire need of redesign and replacement, an issue he called one of the most-pressing among all the parks in the nation.
“The park service is looking at options so that the constant breaking of the canyon pipeline due to intense pressure and the really old piping system needs to be replaced,” said Clark, adding that the system is “holding on without the budget to really fix it.”
At times during busy seasons, he said, the park has almost had to shut down due to the failing water system, noting that “if that happens, the people that rely on the tourism economy are going to lose lots of money.”
Kevin Dahl, Arizona’s senior program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association, echoed Clark’s concerns.
“The pipeline that supplies all that water is 50 years old, it’s long past the time when it should have been replaced,” Dahl said.
That is just one of many serious infrastructure needs that should be addressed at the canyon, Dahl said.
Despite those problems, however, Dahl said he is optimistic about the future of the parks. He pointed to a bipartisan bill in the Senate that would dedicate funding for parks maintenance for the next 30 years.
“President Trump has talked about the need for infrastructure and renewal in our country,” Dahl said. “That’s just as true in the national parks as it is elsewhere. We hope the very special places get the attention they deserve.”
Our Director of Communications recently sat down with Caroline to discuss the role of technology in the National Call Center, the secret to successful long-term partnerships with clients, the best leadership advice she’s ever received, her foodie superpower, and Homer.
SD&A: What do you enjoy most about your job as Vice President of Client Services?
Caroline: Well, at the risk of sounding trite, I’d have to say the people I have the pleasure of working with, both at SD&A and within our industry. I mean, I wouldn’t have spent over 10 years building a career in client service if I didn’t feed off the energy of partnering and collaborating with other passionate people.
This year I’ll be celebrating my 8th year at SD&A. For the majority of my tenure here, I’ve worked with the same core group of people. We’ve faced our fair share of challenges together and grown as a team, and by extension, we’ve been able to grow the strength of our business, our brand and our product. I’m incredibly proud of that.
Outside of the company, I work in a relatively small industry where everyone kind of knows everyone. They are some of the most kind, genuine and fun people I’ve ever met. Some I consider to be very close friends. The relationships I’ve built, and the way they feed into my ability to continuously find ways to better partner with my clients, to innovate, to evolve, is very gratifying and fulfilling for me. Every night I get to leave the office knowing that my peers and I have made an impact in our mission to serve the world around us and make it a better place. I feel very lucky to have such a rewarding role that I get to call my “job.”
SD&A has enduring partnerships with many prominent organizations, including Planned Parenthood, the Sierra Club and the Special Olympics. In your opinion, what is it about our approach as a company that helps us foster long-term relationships with clients?
I frequently hear that SD&A is more accommodating and flexible than many of our competitors. I believe that’s because we focus on being a partner with our clients, not a vendor. There’s a very clear distinction. We don’t see ourselves as just their telefundraiser. We start every client relationship with the intention of fostering long term partnerships. We measure their goals, their intentions, their plans and we utilize our deep pool of experience to create a path that extends beyond just a campaign.
We take the responsibility of serving our clients very seriously. Every person on our team, from the callers to the operations staff and beyond, is not just here to service a client. They usually end up at our doorstep looking to join our team because they’ve been to our website and seen all of the meaningful causes we serve. They come with a passion to make a difference and end up finding a fast-paced, demanding environment that is also very rewarding. We work hard because we want see our clients grow and we do it because we intend to be there for every step of that journey. And guess what – we actually manage to have a lot of fun doing it!
How significant a role does technology play in the success of National Call Center campaigns?
Technology plays a major role in our campaigns on so many levels. I give a lot of credit to our IT department because they capitalize on every resource we have, even if it means a lot of extra work on their part, to accommodate a client or help the call center. When it comes to data, we always ask clients to give us more rather than less. The more the better. We can then utilize that with our own database and knowledge to better strategize for their campaigns. Data modeling and segmentation analysis is a big part of what we do.
In terms of new technological features, we recently upgraded the equipment in our fulfillment mail center, which will enable us to print on demand. This will give us a greater ability to test our fulfillment mail, which was very limited when we were working with an outsourced mail house. Another benefit is that we can now send fulfillment notices by email.
We’ve also expanded our abilities in how we take payments. We can now live-charge payments to cut down on decline rates and improve overall fulfillment. Let’s be honest, in fundraising every dollar counts. All of these changes make a tremendous difference when added together. Some of these things are very rudimentary and some are more advanced, but they all make a difference. Later this year, we’ll be making even more technological upgrades.
What is the best and the worst business or leadership advice you’ve ever received?
The best leadership advice I ever received, and I think it’s actually the best life advice I’ve ever received, is to always be open to feedback. Good, bad, ugly. To know your weaknesses and to grow from them is a tremendous part of evolving as a person. When one is most challenged in life, personally or professionally, being able to hear that feedback without taking it personally and then tracing a path forward usually ends in success. Whether it’s with people on your team, the people above you, or clients, I always try to check in on how I’m doing and learn what I can do better.
And now to take off my Tony Robbins hat, I’m not sure I’ve ever received outright bad business advice. I do recall seeing leadership examples earlier in my career that stand out as counterproductive, like creating cultures that are punitive or focused on blame rather than focusing on solutions. I always try to keep that in mind with my team, ensuring that we’re all moving in the same direction toward the same goal. I think it’s critical to have the buy-in of the folks that also work hard around you. If someone is personally invested in your mission, it exponentially improves your chances of achieving it.
What do you do for enjoyment when you’re not working?
For one, I have a superpower. It’s picking the perfect restaurant. Anyone who has traveled with me can attest to this. I believe the first person to confirm this would be my boss, our company president Steve Koehler. I love trying new restaurants and new foods, whether it’s a divey taco joint or a five star meal. In addition to being a faithful foodie, I’m a huge sports nut. My favorite seasons are March Madness and football season. Then of course there’s Homer. Anyone who knows me knows that the center of my universe is my little 15-pound Pomeranian Chihuahua. I travel quite often and might work late from time to time. Sometimes there’s nothing better than just spending the day hanging out with my dog. He’s a spa goer, has a wardrobe, and eats better than I do. Needless to say, he may very well be the most spoiled dog on the planet.
Located in a charming historic building in the vibrant Fairlie-Poplar district, ATC EAST offers a personal touch not found at large, off-site call centers. This boutique phone room emulates the proven, on-site campaign model that has been generating revenue for SD&A clients since 1983.
Supervised by an experienced campaign manager and staffed by callers who are expertly versed in the arts, ATC EAST provides a cost-effective solution for arts organizations that are unable to host an on-site campaign.
ATC EAST callers are divided into teams, and each team is dedicated to specific campaigns, allowing us to capitalize on each caller’s proven skill sets and their expertise in various artistic disciplines. This fosters a strong allegiance between our callers and the clients they serve – almost as if the callers were working at the client’s home location.
Equipped with the latest technology, ATC EAST is powered by our propriety lead management software, which dramatically increases the efficiency of our campaigns, boosting contact rates by 20% to as much as 100%.
SD&A has conducted many successful campaigns for our clients at ATC EAST. Our increased capacity at the new location provides the opportunity to partner with new organizations to help them meet their revenue goals.
by Gloria Horsley
Dr. Gloria Horsley is Founder of Open to Hope Foundation, a community where people can find hope after loss through forums and more.
(Republished from Forbes.com. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.)
From operations and technology to marketing and fundraising, there are many trends shaping the nonprofit sector that I’ve seen firsthand at my own foundation and in the strategy we’ve laid out to achieve in 2016.
It’s important to start looking ahead to the new year when you are in the throes of annual budget planning. With that in mind, here are some of the areas our organization is focusing on based on key trends that your nonprofit may also want to consider:
Humanize Your Marketing
Many marketing trends for traditional businesses have become important for nonprofits too, which also need to improve engagement with their audiences and donors. While we have to be sensitive in terms of the stories we share, storytelling will become one of the most important marketing tools for us in 2017 because it provides a way to connect with the emotions that help drive donor engagement and ongoing support. Our audience is then able to feel how they are assisting those that come to our nonprofit for help and that then drives them to continue providing financial support and time.
Live streaming video is a great way to tell these stories as well, using Periscope, YouTube Live, and Facebook Live. Another approach for this authentic storytelling is user-generated content. We plan to make this an even larger portion of our content marketing in 2017 just for the very fact that it offers a way to personalize those stories and have them resonate more with our audience.
Influencer marketing will also take on a larger role, as we can rally advocates of our nonprofit organization to endorse what we are doing with their social circles. The result is that the trust that these circles place in these influencers can move them to act and become donors and volunteers themselves. Next year will be about identifying those influencers and then building up relationships with them to create awareness.
Use Mobile Technology To Simplify Donations
Mobile is a favorite of our donors, just as it is for many people when they are looking to communicate and participate with others. That’s why we plan on using more mobile communication, particularly with emails that now tend to be opened more often on a smartphone or tablet versus anywhere else. We are also planning on taking advantage of integrating a payment button directly into our emails to increase donations. This idea may be taken a step further, as another new trend is accepting payments through social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat.
Combined with a greater use of mobile wallets among our donors, we believe 2017 may deliver increased donations if we leverage all this technology and offer it so the ease of use stimulates the willingness to give more money more often.
Seek Fresh Perspectives And A Human Connection
One of our main goals in 2017 is the trend to look year round for board members that can provide fundraising and networking expertise. Specifically, we’re looking to millennials and Generation Xers who are focused on social causes and are well-connected with others who are passionate about social good. We’ve started focusing on both groups within our donor pools and using networking sites to identify candidates who can provide a fresh perspective to our board.
With all the online opportunities we have available to us, it’s easy to think that technology is the only way, but the need for authenticity in 2017 also means a return to the basics and a focus on the humanistic aspect of being and running a nonprofit. For my organization, this back-to-basics approach is focused on creating a culture that is in touch with human emotions and is run by a skilled staff that is enthusiastic about what we are trying to do. Our focus will also involve personal contact with our donors, including in person and by phone, to make that human connection even stronger and more authentic.