Elaine Fogel

Charitable organization

Charities Must Focus on Retention in 2015

donor-retentionIf you work or volunteer for a charitable organization, you may not know that the median donor retention rate in 2013 was only 43%. That means only 43% of donors who made a gift in 2012 did so again in 2013.

According to an article in The Chronicle of Philanthropy, based on The 2014 Fundraising Effectiveness Project report, “For every $100 in new donations the 3,576 groups in the survey received in 2013, they lost an average $92 from supporters who failed to give again and others who contributed less than they had previously.”

And, even though the retention rate represents a slight increase over the previous year, it is still a big red flag for charities. It reinforces my saying:

No Marketing. No money. No mission. 

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Charities - Don’t Wait Until It Gets Urgent!

urgent-rubber-stampI recently received an “Urgent: Your support is needed” email. It came from a charity whose annual municipal grant was reduced by 10% for the next fiscal year. How bad was it?

In the second paragraph, the CEO states that the organization has experienced a 30% cut in municipal funding over the past eight years! He asks me for help - to contact city officials and advocate on the charity’s behalf, and to show up at a city budget meeting to voice my opposition to the budget cut. As I read his plea, my instinct told me that something was wrong with this picture.

So, I did some research and uncovered a very disturbing fact.  Continue reading

More than Two-Thirds of Nonprofits Have NO Social Media Strategy

strategy-with-question-markA new study by Bloomerang, reported on HubSpot’s blog, gives us some valuable data about nonprofits’ use of social media. Of the 9000 respondents, almost half say that social media marketing is very valuable.

The top three goals of nonprofits’ social media efforts are:

  1. Sharing news about the organization.
  2. Sharing news about the cause.
  3. Brand recognition.

Interestingly, fundraising came in fourth, which makes sense because online giving made up only 6.4% of overall giving in 2013, down from 7% in 2012. (Blackbaud)

Here are some other findings:
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My 2013 Dream for Charities and Donors

Cloud9When my nonprofit marketing colleague, Nancy Schwartz of the Getting Attention blog, asked me to write about my dream for the nonprofit community this year, it didn’t take long to come up with one. In reality, I could write an entire book on the subject, but I narrowed it down to one dream.

My dream is for donors and nonprofit leaders to recognize that charitable organizations cannot thrive and live their missions without an investment mentality. During the economic downturn of the past few years, many nonprofits came to realize that they must compete with gazillions of competing messages for attention and donations. The “smarter” ones recognized that they couldn’t do that in a vacuum without investing something in marketing.

Marketing is NOT a frill, a luxury, or a waste of time. Marketing communication gets donors’ attention through multiple channels: e-mail, social media, print collateral, advertising, etc. If I had a dollar for every time I heard a fundraiser say, “We’re the best kept secret in town,” my bank account would be richer.

In so many ways, being the best kept secret is a sign of defeat. It means that the organization has no real strategy for generating revenue. Maybe it’s operating from hand to mouth. Maybe its plan is a wish and a prayer to stay alive for another year. Perhaps, it relies solely on event fundraising. But, is that a clever business move?

Operating a nonprofit is akin to running a business. It takes the same infrastructure as any business: physical location, employees, I.T., finance systems, and more. Ideally, each organization should have a business plan, marketing plan, and fundraising plan. Yet, many don’t.

Passion and dedication on their own cannot guarantee success. Investing in marketing the organization contributes to its brand awareness, sustainability, and growth. When donors learn about the mission, understand the value of the charity’s programs and services, and relate to the nonprofit’s stories of success, only then can the nonprofit build momentum.

This does not necessarily require big bucks either. There are countless inexpensive and yes, free ways to market a charitable cause.

Educating donors is everyone’s responsibility in the nonprofit sector. Apologizing for investing in marketing devalues its worth. Most consumers recognize that every product and service they purchase is a result of marketing. We need to help them understand that there is no difference in the nonprofit sector.

It’s a good time to reiterate one of my sayings:

No marketing, no money, no mission.

Let’s spread the word to charities and donors and help do some good!

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