- Tue, June 30 2009
- Filed under: Marketing essentials
This, dear readers, is my 500th post here on Katya’s Nonprofit Marketing Blog. I wanted to make it extra special and wise, so I decided I’d better not be the one writing it. A couple of weeks ago here and on Twitter, I asked you to contribute to this post with the one piece of wisdom that you wish you’d known at the start of your nonprofit marketing and fundraising efforts - or the lesson you keep finding yourself forgetting. Here are 16 gems from you - each of which I’ve named in honor of the contributor. If some of these sound like common sense, good. That’s the funny thing about common sense - it’s rather uncommon in this world. Thanks for sharing everyone - and for reminding me of some things that are far too easy to forget amidst the daily grind.
Nancy’s rule: Reflect first.
Think before you act! It’ll save you endless frustration, time and money… and ensure you’re doing the most with the marketing & fundraising resources you have.
Joel’s rule: But don’t reflect too long. It’s never going to be perfect anyway.
You can’t get good without practice. If you stay behind your desk, waiting to “get good” before going out to tell your story, you’ll never “get good.” You MUST go out and present people with the chance to get involved with your cause, way before you’re comfortable doing so, and certainly before you’re “good” at it.
Thomas’s rule: Pay attention to what you do right - and wrong.
My input for your 500th post is my personal philosophy about life in general and fundraising in particular: “Do what works.” If you don’t know what works, research what has worked (and not worked) for others. Once you start trying things, pay attention to what brings positive results and what brings negative results. Hang onto the things that bring positive results and let go the ones that bring negative results. Finally, remember that everything changes, so what worked today may not work tomorrow. You must always keep your eye on the ball.
Tony’s law of targeting
It’s not about being everything to everyone; It’s about crafting a clear, concise, and radically different organization that means much to a select few.
Tamsen’s rule of originality
Know what and who you are, and be the best of that you can be. So many non-profits spend all their time trying to be some other non-profit. But why be a copycat? Copies always lose resolution.
Laws of the Audience by Amy, Taryn and Zan
My piece of wisdom is that in direct mail fundraising, you, the mailer, are not the audience.
Know your audience and adapt your message to them to maximize effect.
Audience, audience, audience. Always think about what they care about, are dealing with, are motivated by. You (communications pro) might be part of that audience, but you must always be thinking outside of yourself. Start every email, every newsletter article or blog post, with an a specific person in mind that you are trying to reach.
Jeremy’s rule of relationships
Don’t just market and fundraise to people, connect with their passions and forge relationships—a donation to your cause is nice, but a supporter of your cause is better.
Elizabeth on Storytelling
Tell a good story. I can’t emphasize enough to my nonprofit clients how important it is to tell stories about their work instead of talk about themselves. Here are some ideas on what makes a good story.
Niels’ Advice: Think like a 14 year old.
I learned this when I was fourteen and then I forgot again. Don’t ask me why. Go door to door, explain why you are knocking on their door and ask for their help. I you believe in your cause, you will find many other who do too. What advantage does a fourteen year old have? When you say you believe in something, people tend to believe you. So, what do you need to do to make people believe you? I don’t think it is about the clever packaging, but about the passion of your conviction.
Sergio: Be passionate.
Giving is not only talking about money. Giving is also doing something with your heart.
Amy’s Rule of constructive dispassion
A nonprofit organization is still a business. Don’t ignore those business “tru-isms” because you think they don’t apply to a charity. One of my professors once said that most nonprofits fail because its run by someone who has great passion for the cause–but little business sense. If you’ve got passion - that’s the hard part, just bring some business skills into it and you’ve got the major pieces for success!
Clover: Forever young (or dead)
Reach out to young people (for volunteers, board members, staff, etc.) or you will surely die as your supporters do.
Karen’s Rule: Don’t try to do it all.
Twitter, Facebook, blogging, newsletters, e-mail blasts, brochures, press releases, internal communication, etc. You can’t do it all. Figure out what you must do and what you can do well that will set you apart, master those, and stay focused.
Barb’s Last Word: Take the long view.
It takes time. I keep forgetting that.