Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Baker's Dozen, Gut Check

Surprisingly, many people base critical marketing decisions on a feeling and/or hearsay of what another organization is doing. Twenty three years have lapsed since taking my first fundraising step and I’ve learned you can’t solely base a decision on a “gut feeling.” When I’ve asked charities how they determined their marketing decisions many people have said, “I feel it in my gut.” My response is always the same, “Well personally my gut is only getting bigger and not smarter so what else are you relying on to ensure success?” After a good laugh, the point becomes clear.

Let me help you with a Baker’s Dozen of essentials for making the right marketing and fundraising decisions.

1. Most nonprofits understand the need for tracking results on various fundraising initiatives, but many struggle with analyzing their data to understand giving trends. The data reports you review should provide insight into who and when to market.
2. Each marketing expenditure should be measured by return on investment (ROI). “How much did you spend and how much did you get back?” Stick only with the strategies getting the highest return.
3. Measure your programs by quantifying them by return on mission (ROM). Documented program results play a critical role in raising money for your charity.
4. Net income is the key. It doesn’t really matter what you are spending on marketing and fundraising if your net income continues to skyrocket.
5. Don’t just copy creative ideas from other nonprofits without knowing their results. It is just as easy to copy a bad idea as a good one, but how will you know?
6. Test ideas. No matter how brilliant an idea seems, move forward carefully and conservatively. You want to spend as little as possible at testing an idea to ensure measurable results are achieved. Furthermore, before crafting a test strategy write down what you hope to learn. It will help to ensure you create a valid test.
7. Create a team of people who convene for the purpose of making donors feel extraordinary. It is hard to come up with bad ideas when your focus is sharply on the most important thing.
8. Communicate with your donors on a regular basis. Ask them what they think of your organization and how you can communicate with them more effectively.
9. Document your organization’s positioning and brand strategy and make sure everyone in the entire charity can recite it, but most important, understand it.
10. Have a detailed marketing and fundraising plan with budget, schedules, and media strategy in place for each year.
11. Set aside funds to try new ideas. Undoubtedly, a brilliant idea will surface but if you don’t have the funds to implement it the right way, it most likely will come off the wrong way or not at all.
12. Seek council. You don’t have to be an island in the sea of philanthropy; many people have gone before you so there is no reason for you to learn from the school of hard knocks. Heck, phone me, 360-626-3632.
13. Subscribe to the Nonprofit Times and join one of the many fundraising associations and perfect your craft.


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