What You’re NOT Going to Do in 2017 (Part One)

30 Sep 2016

For some organizations, the most (wonderful?) time of year is here; budget season! And as you begin your planning and budgeting for next year, I’m going to push you to do things differently. Over the month of October, I’m going to share a three-part blog series on what you’re not going to do in 2017.

You’re not going to want to hear this. You’re going to say “Yeah, but…” and “That’ll never happen.” I expect you to push back because some of it will seem impossible. But managing the impossible is how your organization goes from good to great.

I want you to STOP making some of the mistakes that have been holding you back for years. They’re holding you back from better fundraising, bigger change and a better work/life balance. Over my eleven years in business, I’ve seen nonprofits make these same mistakes over and over again. So we’re just going to Stop. Doing. Them. Ok? Okay.

In 2017, you are NOT going to:

Think like a nonprofit.

That’s right, I said it. Nonprofits are simply tax designations. Any organization needs to make money, whether it’s to spend it helping others or to line a CEO’s wallet. Luckily for the world, your mission is to help people, animals, our planet, what have you. But sometimes you accept things that businesses wouldn’t accept. A lack of accountability, a lack of innovation, stagnant fundraising, a work/life balance that is unacceptable. If you’re tired of the nonprofit struggle, spend a few years righting the ship by utilizing the best of business practices, many of which follow below.

First step: Keep reading.

Work harder on new donors.

It’s human nature to follow the new, the next big thing, but it’s hurting your organization. How much of your budget goes to chasing new donors? Are you spending more time on new donors than existing donors? If so, it’s time to level the playing field. While more monetary resources might go to new donor acquisition, more of your time should go to fostering relationships with existing donors. A dismal 43% of first-time donors make a second donation, but this can be improved with more focus on those who’ve already shown their willingness to support you. Find out why they give. Say thank you more than you think you should. Imagine what you could do with a 5% lift in donations from existing donors. I spoke on Donor Retention at the Nonprofit Technology Conference and you can get the slides here. They’ll help you develop a plan for better donor retention.

First step: Develop a donor retention plan and stick to it.

Ignore young audiences.

Are your donors primarily over the age of 60? If so, you need to take a look at the long-term sustainability of your nonprofit. If you don’t begin to engage younger audiences (Millennials and Gen Z) now, your nonprofit is going to feel the repercussions 20 years from now. This can seem daunting if you don’t inherently understand what younger audiences want, but the good news is once you get a handle on how to engage with this audience, you’ve got a handle on how to engage with all audiences. Turns out we all want what Millennials want, we just may not realize it. If you need some help getting started, we’ve got a great resource on how to engage young audiences from our 2016 Bridge Conference session.

First step: Make sure your website is mobile friendly, especially your donation page.

Are you still with me? These first three steps are the foundation your team needs to agree on in order to gear up for a successful 2017. Start your next planning meeting with these topics on the agenda and get stakeholder buy-in early on how to ensure you don’t do any of these things in 2017.

Stay tuned for Part Two in the series next week where I will share the next set of “Dont’s” including funding and fundraising.

Rachel Clemens

Chief Marketing Officer

Rachel is responsible for sharing TradeMark Media's passion and expertise with the world.

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