This blog is based on a conversation that I had with Yoni Alpert, a marketer in the non-profit world. To hear the rest of the podcast, please click on the link below:
How has fundraising changed in the non-profit world over the last few years, with social giving taking the place of traditional methods of mailing, checks etc.?
Successful non-profits have one story that they continuously share with the world. They share the impact they make on the world with potential donors and cultivate relationships for the long-term.
It’s always important to show people what they’re doing, instead of telling them. If you tell people what you’re doing, they’ll be uninvolved and uninspired. On the other hand, if you show people the positive effect of their money, they’ll want to keep being a part of it.
Check out the content that you send to your potential donors, including email sequences and even your website, and count how many times you use the word ‘you.’ It has to weigh out the number of times you use ‘we’ or ‘us’ by far. Make your story about your donors, not about you and your vision. Sell them what they can gain from working with your organization.
For-profits will sell a physical object but non-profits are selling an emotional concept. Find out what your donors want, what their dreams and hopes and visions are, and then sell them your offer in a way that will appeal to them.
Give value to people and they will give you value in return. This is true for the top of the funnel (when you first introduce people to your organization and start building the relationship) and also at the end of the funnel (when people donate). Some ideas are a calendar, a cookbook, an e-book, or a thank you video showing what you did with the money. If you don’t have the capacity to produce any of these, just send a ‘thank you’ email, that works too. Give value at every point of the relationship and have your potential donors give micro-commitments in return. It could be something as small as giving in their email address, but it’s a commitment in a small way.
Many non-profits make one of two mistakes: Either they’re so obsessed with making money that they don’t want to strategize and build relationships, or they are so blinded with their own passion that they forget to run their organization like a business. Both approaches won’t get you anywhere. Running after the dollar bills without a plan will eventually lead you to a brick wall. Running your organization on passion alone will cause you to use up all your fuel, and go dry.
In regards to email marketing, how can we stay ahead of the game in a world where people are inundated with emails, every single day? How can we get people to actually take note of the emails and therefore increase the overall click-through and conversion rates?
With warm emails, make sure that their reaching the recipient’s inbox, as opposed to their ‘promotions or social folders. There is software available that can send out your emails slowly, to a smaller amount of people a day. They do it automatically over the course of time and it makes a huge difference to the open and click-through rates.
Also, sell yourself like a SaaS, with a value proposition that you’re selling to your donors
Remember that all big influencers use email. Even if they use social media, email is the basic communication method for everyone- not just the big guys. For cold emails, look for religious community leaders and influencers in every community and send an email offering a relationship. Invite them to be a part in your organization and then the people they influence with become part of your network, supporting your organization too. Cold emails usually don’t bring in the big checks but if you target the right people, they may come on board and be a long-time supporter of your non-profit. If your non-profit is truly servicing a great cause then you can be confident when approaching big CEOs and influencers because you are offering them a great opportunity by inviting them to join.
Learn from other people, there isn’t one right way! Don’t ever get set in your ways because although change is scary, you have to adapt in order to advance. People often hire a marketing expert to revamp their organization and bring in more funds but when the marketer does his thing, there’s a lot of pushback form the organization. They’re scared of change. They don’t want to reassess the old methods; they just want to bring in more money! This is really a shame. Learn from other non-profits, learn from for-profits and learn from marketers if you want to succeed.
Running your non-profit like a passion project will not work in the long-run. You have to approach it like a business
One piece of advice from Yoni: Most of the people we interact with are good people- ask people ahead of you for guidance, advice, tips, mentoring and referrals. You can then pay this forward when people behind you reach out to you for help. There is enough money out there for everybody. Find people who can help you- more often than not they’ll be thrilled to speak with you- and then help others who are later in the game.
Sean Littman is the founder and CEO of Catch22-Nonprofit Marketing, his out-of-the-box thinking, and approach to marketing have helped dozens of organizations both large and small, maximize their potential and see explosive results on all ends!
If you'd like to see how Sean can help your organization, book a FREE 15-minute call today!