By Chris Carter, published March 2020
The world has changed. From a fundraising or marketing professional perspective your work priorities have been shifting or will be soon. Things that may have consumed a lot of your time are suddenly on the backburner: meetings, conferences, events, and even networking. For many fundraisers, including myself, these sort of things previously consumed large amounts of my time. So now what should we be doing?
1. Increase mass fundraising and marketing
I’ve already spent time talking about this, but if your organization has been very dependent on things such as major giving or events fundraising, it’s an absolute priority to diversify. That means re-allocating dollars to things like direct mail, digital, TV, and even telemarketing. Many telemarketing firms have their agents call from home so are a perfect solution to challenges raised by social distancing. Ideally make sure you are attuned to best practice, meaning that your efforts incorporate a campaigning and integrated approach.
There’s much strategic planning nonprofits could be doing. One of the first things we’d suggest is a thematic integrated editorial/marketing calendar plan. This means start laying out themes, perhaps on a monthly or seasonal basis, tied to what time of year it is and who your organization is. For example, maybe you’re an environmental group and you think a theme on endangered plants in the spring sounds like a great idea. Map it out for a year or two, and line up your channels to get all your marketing and fundraising on the same page.
3. Develop content
Particularly after you’ve gone through an exercise like the above, you now know what your upcoming themes are, maybe even several months or years down the road, which can allow you to get ahead of your content needs. For example, if you were an environmental group who decided plants and flowers would be great for spring, get lots of that content done. Write stories for your website and newsletter; draft a direct mail piece; get some social media posts ready to go; and maybe even make a video.
4. Do a tech audit
Looking at your current systems, consider whether you’ve ever had problems with reporting, reconciliation, policies or infrastructure. Now’s your chance to dig in and start making evaluations: do you have pesky stand alone excel spreadsheets you’ve always wanted to get rid of? or do you have an outlier platform that isn’t integrated? Once your assessment is done, sort out next steps to make the necessary improvements.
5. Do a data cleanup
If you’ve had challenges, maybe with duplicates or maybe your coding wasn’t quite right, and there’s always been a kind of “kick the can down the road” approach to it—well now’s the perfect opportunity to address it head-on and sort out the clean-up priorities.
We’re probably entering a new normal in fundraising and many of the above steps will best position your organization to weather the storm.