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

13 Oct 2016

In our final installment of what you are not going to do in 2017, we hope you’re getting buy-in from your internal team and are well on your way to leaving these common nonprofit mistakes in your past.

Last week, we discussed design as a must-have and the need to assign a brand manager for your org. We talked about funding, earned income and the overhead myth. Now, on to the conclusion of what you’re NOT going to do in 2017.

In 2017, you are NOT going to: 

Guess your way through fundraising and communications.

Are you tracking the results of your fundraising? Do you have a fundraising campaign metrics spreadsheet that spans several years of data? It should track your total dollars raised, which sources your donors come from, your donor retention rate and your average donation amount, among others. Tracking these numbers are the only way to continually improve upon your communications and fundraising efforts and know that those efforts are successful. And it doesn’t stop there. You should also be tracking website, email, social, and segmentation metrics.

If you don’t have a monthly system for tracking your key communications analytics, create one. This is crucial data to track so that you are optimizing your fundraising and communications spend (not to mention optimizing your time). It must be part of someone’s job description.

First step: Develop a metrics document to be updated every quarter. If you’ve got that down, create a custom analytics report for your website/email/social and track that monthly.

Fear your email list.

You’re not sending enough email to your audience. No, really. One email a month is not sufficient. You don’t have to blast them every week but these supporters have opted-in to hear from you. Send them an email every month and then layer on 3-4 week campaigns several times a year. At end-of-year, send a minimum of five emails over the life of your campaign. That’s five emails minimum over about five weeks. The list can sustain it and you’ll raise more money. In fact, I’d encourage you to send more, but let’s start there.

First step: Try sending more emails during your end-of-year campaign (especially the last 3 days of the year) and see if it makes an impact.

Ignore strategy for the here and now.

Stop ignoring your planning. I know. I know there are a million fire drills and things that have to be done right this minute. I’m a business owner, so I get it. But what if you put 2 hours of strategic planning on your calendar once a week and let nothing else get in the way? What kind of change could that make in your org? Would it cut down on chaos in the end? Half the battle is getting it on the calendar. Go ahead and schedule it as a recurring event, then guard it like a mama bear protecting her baby. Even if you’re successful half the time, that’s 52 hours a year you’ll spend strategizing on the future rather than focusing on the now. Part of this time should be spent building processes and templates that help you knock out those little things that always get in your way. Another quick tip: First thing Monday morning, right down the 3 things you need to accomplish each week to gain traction on your goals. Give those your focus.

First step: Make a recurring event on your calendar dedicated solely to strategy and future planning.

Hold steady on your fundraising and communications budget.

“You’ve got to spend money to make money.” You’ve heard this before and in some areas of business it’s true, like fundraising and communications. Remember, you’re going to abandon the Overhead Myth, right? So this year I encourage you to spend 5% more on your fundraising and communications. Just 5%. If your current Return on Investment (ROI) on your fundraising efforts is typically 3x, adding 5% more in cost should net you 15% more in return. But before you spend more money, be sure you’ve got those metrics in place and can easily track them so you’ll know what worked and if the extra investment was worth it. You’ll want to report success back to the board for next year’s budget!

First step: Budget 5% more for fundraising and communications and be able to tell your board how you’re going to track the impact.

There you have it. My hope for you in 2017 is that you’ll tackle a few of these challenges and see the return. Take a risk (not something that’s always easy in the nonprofit world)! Have courage and be the change. Good luck!

Rachel Clemens

Chief Marketing Officer

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

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