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Reactivate Your Email List (Case Study)

The following is a cross-post by Karla Capers from Nancy Schwartz's blog, Gettingattention.org. To read the original article, click here.

Karla Capers

I’m Online Director at the Union of Concerned Scientists, and we were faced with a real challenge—how to re-engage the many folks who were not reading or acting on our emails.

Here’s our three-part reactivation method:

We Segmented Our Inactives
We defined “inactive” as anyone who’s never given the organization a donation (online or off) and hadn’t opened, clicked, or taken any action online in the last year.

Then, in February, we started to segment out the “inactive” people on our list and excluding them from all outgoing messages. That “inactive” segment turned out to be about 25% of our deliverable email file.

Then Sent Our Campaign
Next, we set up a three-part series of emails to try to re-engage those inactive people:

1. Initial email

  • Goes out when someone first falls into the “inactive” file.
  • Subject line: “We miss you [first name]“
  • Asks them to click on a link to let us know they still want to receive emails from UCS.
  • The landing page that click gets them to says something like “Thanks and welcome back….” and automatically adds them back into the “Active” file.

2. Second email (if recipient doesn’t click on first email)

  • Goes out one week later.
  • Subject line: “Science still needs you [firstname]“
  • Tries to re-engage people with an action alert, talks about recent attacks on science and asks the person to sign a generic pledge to “stand with science”.

3. Third email (if recipient doesn’t click on second email)

  • Goes out one week later.
  • Subject line: “thanks and goodbye”
  • Informs the person that since we haven’t heard from them in a long time we are going to unsubscribe them and offers one last chance to click to still receive emails from us.
  • The landing page is a survey where they can update their email subscriptions by issue topic and type of message and give us feedback on why they have been out of touch.

Our Results—Good, But Want to Do Better
Since February, we have re-engaged almost 5% of our inactive file. That’s a value of about $13,000 if we were paying for those names so that seems worth it to me.

Of the three emails, the third email performed the best re-engaging 3.17% of the inactive file. Email one re-engaged 1.56% and email two only 0.88%.

Next Steps—Before Inaction
One thing I would like to do is add another email to the series to try to re-engage people *before* they fall into the inactive pool–so maybe when they haven’t clicked or acted on anything in 3 months or 6 months. I think if we tried to reconnect with them sooner we might pull even more people back into the active file.

How do you reengage inactive supporters, whether those on your email list who don’t respond or lapsed donors? Please share your reactivation methods here.

P.S. Get more nonprofit marketing tools, templates, case studies & tips delivered right to your in-box! Register here for the Getting Attention blog & e-news.

Since 1996, Karla Capers has been working for advocacy organizations, figuring out ways to use the internet to raise visibility for progressive issues, engage people in campaigns, and try to make the world a better place.

Note from Nancy: I came upon Karla’s terrific guidance for re-engaging folks on the Progressive Exchange list serv, and got her permission to repost here.


Help Your Supporters Do Good with These Apps

Smart phones bring world news to the palm of users’ hands, keep a camera and video recorder on hand at all times, and help them multitask anywhere. With mobile apps, there’s an almost unlimited number of new uses for the mobile marvels people carry around every day, doing good in the world included. Mobile apps are the fastest way for charities to reach new markets and gain more supporters.

Put the power of social media and mobile computing to work for your cause. Apps like WoofTrax, CharityMiles, Donate a Photo, Instead, DonorReminder, and Budge are fun, rewarding, easy to use and help donors support charities while doing what they already like to do.

CharityMiles

Runners don’t have to wait for the next 5k to run for a cause. The CharityMiles app lets them use their run, walk, or bike ride to earn sponsorships on behalf of the charity of their choice simply by taking their smart phone with them when they hit the pavement. They turn on the app at the beginning of their activity, and their phone’s GPS starts tracking mileage to earn up to 25 cents per mile. Feeling the burn never felt so good when runners can make it do double duty with CharityMiles.

WoofTrax

Taking the dog for a walk has never been so profitable — for animal shelters and rescue groups that is. When users download this free app on smartphones like the HTC One M8 and use its amazing camera to take photos of their dogs on their daily walks, WoofTrax credits their walk to the shelter or rescue of their choice and sends them the money they raise from sponsorships and advertising.

Instead

Now donors don’t have to give up on their New Year’s resolutions. Their smart phones can help them actually make the changes they commit to each year, or anytime they want to make a change. The Instead app encourages them to make the small changes they want to and use the money saved to donate to the good cause of their choice. Instead of buying that expensive flavored coffee, for example, they can make their own at home and donate the $5 they save.

Budge

If donors don’t want to be alone in their charitable efforts, they can make it a game with the Budge app. Budge lets them challenge their friends with anything they can think of, such as resisting a favorite food for three days or a friendly tennis match or basketball game, and the loser donates to a worthy cause. Budge lets supporters play and compete with friends to support charitable causes they choose.

Donate-a-Photo

People who are passionate about supporting charities can post photos on social media to help out. The Donate-a-Photo app turns their photos into charitable dollars courtesy of Johnson & Johnson, who gives $1 to the cause of their choice (from a curated selection of charities) for every photo donated by uploading to their site.

Give Blood

A smart phone can help blood donors remember to donate blood more often with the DonorReminder app. When they track their blood donations, DonorReminder sets an alarm that lets them know it’s time to donate again, so they can help keep the blood supply stocked.

The preceding is a guest post by Heidi Cardenas, a freelance writer with a background in human resources, business administration, technical writing and corporate communications.


Should the Pareto Principle Apply to Fundraising?

In 1906 Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto observed that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. He also noticed 80% of the peas in his garden came from 20% of the peapods, if that gives you any insight into the kind of man he was. Since then, his "Pareto Principal" has been applied to almost everything under the sun.


Beth Kanter Keynotes Social Media for Nonprofits in Chicago

Chicago friends: Ready to launch your year-end fundraising? Need to boost your social media acumen? Want to learn how to better use social media in your storytelling efforts?

Then join Social Media for Nonprofits as it returns to Chicago on October 29th, and learn how to:

  • Create results-driven fundraising strategy around #GivingTuesday
  • Use video to enhance your fundraising campaigns
  • Make your stories more powerful by using visuals

Learn directly from heavyweights such as Beth Kanter, David Gunn, Susy Schultz, Bridgett Colling, and Ira Horowitz. Use this code to get $30 off of registration: SM4NP

Scholarships are available for nonprofits to learn how to leverage resources & social media: http://bit.ly/PIVvmt

See you there!


Help move the sector from an Overhead Myth to an Overhead Solution

In 2013, I joined with colleagues at BBB Wise Giving Alliance and Charity Navigator to write an open letter to the donors of America explaining that “overhead ratios” are a poor way to understand nonprofit performance. As you know, these ratios—the percent of charity expenses that go to administrative and fundraising costs—tell us nothing about an organization’s performance against its mission.

Overhead Myth letter to the nonprofits of America

We believed that the nonprofit sector was hungry to dispel this “Overhead Myth.” The field’s extraordinary reaction to the first letter has thunderously affirmed that belief. Today, we build on that momentum by offering a second letter, this one addressed to the nonprofits of America. In this second letter we suggest a set of steps nonprofits can take to help us all move beyond the Overhead Myth. In simple terms, we must—collectively—offer donors an alternative. We believe it will take a shared effort to focus donors’ attention on what really matters: nonprofits’ efforts to make the world a better place. Please join us as we seek to move from the Overhead Myth to the Overhead Solution.

-Jacob Harold, President and CEO, GuideStar

The preceding can also be found on the Overhead Myth Blog: http://overheadmyth.com/toward-an-overhead-solution/.


System Automation: Trusting Technology To Help You Do More

With the advent of readily available APIs, more and more systems are "talking" to each other these days. However, connecting the systems that you use each day can be a scary idea.

In this article, we'll offer tips for approaching system integration and how nonprofits can do even more good with technology.

Why is system integration important?

No matter what data it contains, an isolated application ultimately decreases in value. System integration helps nonprofits recapture this value and do more with less – especially when funding is results-driven. Linking applications together reduces time spent on duplicate data entry and minimizes the chances of clerical errors.

Advantages go well beyond the reduction of administrative burdens. Integration can also help streamline workflows and can deliver more meaningful reports for grants or donors engagement. For example, by allowing volunteer and donor databases to communicate, nonprofits automatically multiply their fundraising potential and have access to a more global view of their supporters.

Does integration makes sense for my organization?

If fractured data is hurting your organization (instead of helping it), then system integration might add value. Here are a few scenarios to consider:

  • Are your donors annoyed? If they are getting mail with their names misspelled, calls when they prefer email, or fundraising appeals addressed to a deceased spouse, this can tarnish your reputation and decrease your donation stream.
  • Do you see the whole picture? If you can’t easily identify trends and patterns because your data is too scattered among different applications, then you are missing out on important information. This data could drive changes in procedures, marketing, fundraising, and more.
  • Do departments mistrust each other’s data? If each department is using a different database for the same individuals, who really has the correct information?

Do any of these challenges sound familiar? If so, it’s time to consider an integration strategy.

How do I prepare for an integration launch?

  1. Establish that your tools can be connected. Most vendors list out their integration partners on a webpage. Start by exploring tools that integrate with one another. Cloud-based applications are often open to integration.
  1. Define what you want to accomplish. What problems do you wish to resolve? What benefits do you want to achieve? These questions will guide you and help you define exactly what you require a system integration to do.
  1. Communicate with staff and stakeholders. Be sure to make clear why you have opted for integration and how it will benefit your organization. This will be critical to your project’s success.
  1. Ask for information about the integration. Be sure that it meets the needs you outlined, and then dig deeper. You’ll want to find out how long the integration has been in use and ascertain if it is still in beta testing. When talking with the vendor, request case studies or references of satisfied customers so you can do your own research into it.
  1. Consider hiring a consultant who has successfully lead these types of transitions. An experienced integration consultant can help relieve the stress of integration and serve as a point person for your questions.
  1. Don’t be afraid to provide feedback to the vendor. If you’re experiencing an issue with the integration, the vendor would probably like to know about it. Don’t be shy.

Your data sets are just like your employees: when they communicate and work together as a team, you get the best results. From expediting internal processes to creating better marketing and fundraising approaches, software integration brings together important data that will synergistically further your nonprofit’s mission.

The following is a guest post by VolunteerHub, a cloud-based volunteer management software application that offers online event registration, email and SMS (text) messaging, report generation, and much more. This is part of our ongoing VolunteerCorner series – focusing on what you need to know about volunteering for nonprofit.


A Nonprofit Board’s Fiduciary Responsibility

Both the recession and wide-ranging scandals over the past few years have changed the perceptions of duties required of boards of directors in all industries - including nonprofits. Additionally, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), through its revisions to Form 990, requires reporting by nonprofits on a range of governance issues that go far beyond financial reporting, including board member “fiduciary duty.” What is fiduciary responsibility and what does it mean to the board of a nonprofit?


NPC’s Four Pillar Approach

The following is a guest post by Anne Kazimirski, Deputy Head of Measurement & Evaluation and co-author of NPC’s four pillar approach. To read the original article, click here.


Major Gifts Fundraising: The Questions I Hear Most Often

Having worked as a fundraising consultant and trainer for almost 20 years, I'm often surprised that the same questions come up again and again.

Happily, recurring questions can generate new answers: my responses keep evolving as I learn from donors, peers, clients, and from my ongoing experience soliciting gifts.

What follows is a "greatest hits" collection of questions. You'll find more extensive answers in my books How to Raise $500 to $5000 from Almost Anyone and Train Your Board (and Everyone Else) to Raise More Money.

What would you consider a "major gift?"

The concept of a "major gift" varies wildly based on the size and sophistication of organizations. For big-league universities, the major gifts category probably begins at $100,000. On the other hand, for some grassroots groups, $250 might be considered a big gift.

In the first book mentioned above, I focused on $500 to $5,000. These amounts are large enough to justify the time required to cultivate and solicit donors, yet small enough to include a wide range of prospects.

Taken in the context of a major gifts campaign, with many askers talking to multiple prospects, gifts of $500 to $5,000 can add up to a lot of money.

What's the most effective way to raise money?

Look someone in the eye and ask for it. Unfortunately, this is also the scariest way to raise money. If we're going to be successful, we have to confront our fears and doubts about money, where it comes from, who gives it, how to ask for it effectively, and so on.

If fear is the biggest barrier, how do we address it?

In a word, training. Lots of training interspersed with hands-on practice.

You might remember the first time you learned to ride a bike, which included the fear of falling and skinning your knees. A family member or friend probably coached you through it: you tried, you fell, you got up, you received more coaching, and pretty soon you were riding around the block.

Fundraising is the same. You learn, you fall a few times, you get up, you try again, and pretty soon donors are saying yes and handing you checks. For more training tools, visit www.trainyourboard.com.

Nonprofits can spend a lot of money on trainers and consultants to engage their boards in fundraising. Does training really work?

Yes and no. While I continue to lead a lot of one-day workshops—often, with the client providing little advance prep or follow-through after the event—I'm beginning to question the model. A good trainer can move the needle, but when he or she leaves the room, everybody begins to backslide. Old habits, as they say, die hard.

On the other hand, when training is part of a long-term process of board education and engagement, rather than a one-off event, yes—training works. A lot of ongoing board education can be driven by board and staff leaders rather than relying on outside consultants.

Let's talk about donor meetings. What's the best location?

When we meet with donors, we generally have three goals:

  • Learn more about them
  • Look for ways to connect them to the work of our organization
  • Ask for their support (unless this is a get-to-know-you meeting or a personal thank-you after a recent gift)

With that in mind, you want a comfortable location that allows a certain degree of privacy and quiet. If the venue inspires the donor, even better. I would suggest the following hierarchy:

  • The donor's home. If someone invites you into his or her home for the purpose of being asked, this is a very good sign.
  • A show-and-tell opportunity: the site of your new clinic, a forest you are working to conserve, your preschool in action, and so forth. Following the site visit, make sure you have a quiet place to talk.
  • The donor's place of business.
  • Your organization's office or place of business—with the reminder that if you have good engagement opportunities, this moves up to item two on the list.
  • A restaurant or coffee shop. If this is your best option, take it—but beware of the loud diners at the next table or the waiter who delivers the check just as you are making your case. In a public location, it's impossible to control the distractions.

How about materials? What do you need to bring?

It really depends on the ask. Is this annual fundraising, a special project, or a capital campaign? As a general rule, keep it simple. We tend to overload donors with too much stuff. With that in mind, here's the basic list:

  • Pledge form (name, contact info, terms of payment, recognition information, etc.)
  • Case materials: a brochure, fact sheet, or newsletter
  • Something visual: a map or graph, photos, a site plan—specific to your mission and funding request
  • Gift chart showing the range of gifts needed to reach your goal, and progress toward that goal

Remember, materials don't make the ask, YOU make the ask. Even the strongest materials aren't as effective as a thoughtful face-to-face request, spoken from the heart.

What's your single best advice for those who want to learn face-to-face fundraising, but don't know where to begin?

If you're a novice, embrace that. Use it to your advantage. Pick three people you know well enough to call on the phone and have the following conversation:

"Sally, I'm on the board of [your organization]. We're learning how to meet with donors and ask for their support. To be honest, I'm a little intimidated but I really need to learn how to do this. May I come and practice on you?

"Just so we're clear, it's a real ask—I hope you will give. But more than the money, what I really need is feedback, and I think you would make a great practice partner. Can we practice this together? I would so appreciate your help."

The advantages of this approach: it's authentic, it's honest, and it shows a lot of humility. Most donors find that appealing.

As the famous fundraising saying states, "If you want advice, ask for money. If you want money, ask for advice."

Andy Robinson
© 2014, Emerson & Church, Publishers

Andy Robinson is a trainer, consultant, and the author of six books, including Great Boards for Small Groups, Train Your Board (and Everyone) Else to Raise Money, and How to Raise $500 to $5000 from Almost Anyone. Learn more about Robinson at www.andyrobinsononline.com and www.trainyourboard.com.


Does Organizational Staff Size Affect Grant Activity?

After a recent State of GrantseekingTM webinar, an attendee asked about differences in grant awards and grantseeking styles, based not on annual budget but on organizational size when measured by number of employees. It was a good question because we know that a lack of time and staff is the most frequent impediment to successful grantseeking, regardless of organization size. The following is a synopsis of grant activity as defined by number of employees: all volunteer, 1 to 5 staff members, 6 to 10 staff members, and, as a counterpoint, more than 200 employees. Here is what we've learned. ...

Let's start with some basic, and unsurprising, demographics: to state the obvious, organizational age and budget size increased in conjunction with staff size.

Staff Organization Age Budget Mission Focus
All volunteer <5 years (37%) <$50,000 (60%) Arts, Culture, Humanities (15%)
1-5 people 10-25 years (38%) <$500,000 (59%) Arts, Culture, Humanities (19%)
6-19 people 10-25 years (40%) <$5,000,000 (81%) Human Services (18%)
200+ people >100 years (42%) >$25,000,000 (62%) Education (33%)

It takes time to grow an annual budget, and that budget is what enables increased staff.

The question, however, was, "Does staff size affect grantseeking activities and success?" The short answer is "yes," but let's looks at some of the data that are available.

Because all-volunteer organizations usually lack personnel dedicated to grantseeking, it becomes a less consistent, ad hoc affair, resulting in few awards. Moving an organization from all volunteer to having 1 to 5 employees increases the likelihood of grant funding; moving the organization to 6 to 10 employees increases that possibility even more. Organizations with more than 200 employees rely less on grant funding because they have other revenue streams, including tuition and donations.

In addition, organizational size is affected by mission focus, or vice versa. According to the Spring 2014 State of GrantseekingTM Report, the median largest grant award for Arts, Culture, and Humanities organizations was $20,000, for Human Services organizations it was $50,000, and for Educational Institutions it was $200,000.

Median largest award size also increased with larger staff size:

Organizations that employed 1 to 5 people reported a median largest award of $24,000—nearly five times larger than the $5,000 received by all-volunteer organizations. Organizations that employed 6 to 10 people reported a median largest award 10 times larger than that of all-volunteer organizations, and over double that of organizations employing 1 to 5 people. And organizations that employ more than 200 people reported a median largest award of $375,000.

Does staff size affect grantseeking activities and success? Without a doubt, and there are two main change points. When an organizations moves from all volunteer to having employees, the consistent focus on the organization's mission and budgetary needs results in more dedication of time to grantseeking and larger grant awards. And when an organization moves beyond five employees, grantseeking becomes more than a filler task, resulting in even larger and more frequent awards.

Ellen Mowrer, GrantStation
© 2014, GrantStation

Ellen Mowrer is director of business and marketing for GrantStation, a premiere online fundraising resource that provides information on more than 6,500 funders accepting inquiries.


Good News Travels Fast

It seems these days everyone is enamored with social media.

It's hard to go to a conference that doesn't offer sessions titled, "How to Leverage Social Media to Benefit Your Organization" ... "10 Ways Social Media Can Help You Raise More Funds" ... "Social Media: Getting Your Story Out. What Every Social Marketer Needs to Know."

I'm no Luddite. But in full disclosure, even though I use it sparingly, I'm no big fan of social media for numerous reasons, including issues related to privacy, security, and time management, just to name a few.

Despite any of my personal biases, however, the axiom that "Good news travels fast; bad news travels faster" holds more weight in this age of incredibly fast communications technologies than ever before.

In short, when it comes to social media, be sure you've done your homework.

A Few Things to Think About

What follows are just a few things to ponder as you explore your initial, or expanded, use of social media.

  • How well do we understand this technology, and do we know the best—and correct—ways to employ it?

    For example, do we know the differences between social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.), bookmarking sites (Delicious, StumbleUpon, etc.) social news (Digg, Reddit, etc.), media sharing (YouTube, Flickr, etc.), microblogging (Twitter, etc.), and the countless blog forums that are out there?

    Do we need to employ all of them, or will just one or two do?

  • Are we staffed to use social media in a timely manner?

    Social media is meant to be interactive. In other words, it's a dynamic—not a static—form of communications, and much of it is extremely time sensitive.

    For example, if someone posts a question on your blog, Facebook, or LinkedIn page, how long will it take you to respond? Hint: It better be sooner rather than later. Social media almost demands real-time turnaround.

  • Who within our organization should have access to and be responsible for our social media communications?

    Keep in mind that social media is a window to your brand. Subsequently, the person(s) responsible for messaging on it in many respects become the online face of your organization. Choose them not only for their ability to know and understand the technology but also for how well they know and understand your brand and the image you want to project to the public.

    Which leads us to ...

  • Do we have guidelines for online behavior?

    Do you understand that anything you say on social media is in the public domain, that it is all being archived, and that it can be retrieved at any time by anyone with a search engine—which means nearly everyone in the world?

    Subsequently, do you have written policies in place regarding such things as the accuracy of information you are putting online, the use (or non-use) of vulgarity, respect for others (individuals as well as organizations), and how to address online criticism of your organization?

    Which also leads us to ...

  • Do we have a crisis management plan in place should something negative about our organization go viral?

    If someone in your organization becomes aware that your organization is being challenged or criticized online, to whom should they report, and how should the organization respond?

  • Are we aware of privacy issues?

    Do you know not to provide personal or organization-related information on social media sites that scam artists or identity thieves could use?

  • Do we know when we may be overexposing ourselves to our audiences?

    At what point might you be sending out too many tweets or other online messages that, instead of holding the attention of your intended audiences are causing them to consider your messages spam?

  • What are our lost opportunity costs?

    Is social media taking up so much of your time that it is preventing you from doing things more directly related to the success of your mission?

Let's be clear. I'm not trying to dissuade anyone from using social media. Used knowledgeably and thoughtfully, it certainly has proven to have its advantages and revered place in organization communications.

I'm just saying ...

Larry Checco, Checco Communications
© 2014, Checco Communications

Larry Checco is president of Checco Communications and a nationally recognized public speaker, workshop presenter, and consultant on branding and leadership. His books, Branding for Success: A Roadmap for Raising the Visibility and Value of Your Nonprofit Organization and Aha! Moments in Brand Management: Commonsense Insights to a Stronger, Healthier Brand, have sold thousands of copies both here and abroad.


The Two Faces Of Data

The following is a cross-post of Markets for Good's September 29 article, The Two Faces of Data by Chris Delatorre. To read the original article, click here.


Good strategy needs sound data: response to ‘Strategic Philanthropy for a Complex World’

The following is a cross-post of an article by Angela Kail that first appeared on Latest from Alliance, the blog of Alliance magazine. To read the original post, click here.


Managing Attention Online

The following is a guest post by Beth Kanter, the author of Beth’s Blog: How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media, one of the longest running and most popular blogs for nonprofits.


7 Perfect Responses to Overcome a Donor’s Objections to a Visit

It takes a lot of "no’s" to get to a "yes," but the truth about fundraising is that the hardest part isn’t the ask, is getting the visit to make the ask! To help you get that all important face to face visit I’ve outlined seven of the most common objections a prospect or donor might have to taking a meeting and how you can overcome them.


The Lake Washington Declaration

This past summer, GuideStar’s President and CEO Jacob Harold worked with 70 nonprofit leaders to draft a set of principles with the goal of helping the social sector build a data-driven infrastructure. What came of that workshop is now known as the Lake Washington Declaration.


Questions I'm Most Often Asked About Case Statements

Excerpted from Making a Case Your Donors Will Love


Top Strategic Mistakes Nonprofits Make, Part 1

Nonprofits do a lot of things well, particularly making our world a better place. Many nonprofits, however, could do an even better job of pursuing their missions and raising more funds if they avoid the 13 key strategic mistakes nonprofits often make. Mistakes 1-4 are listed below, in no particular order. Mistakes 5-13 will appear in articles published in November and December 2014.

1. Failing to help people find you online

There was a time when nonprofits used to have to search for virtually all their donors, volunteers, clients, staff, board members, event attendees, partners, and even grants. Now there's a new paradigm in which those people are increasingly trying to find you online. Even when you pursue these people the old-fashioned way—say by meeting them at a networking event—no matter how effective a job you do of convincing them of the merits of your nonprofit, sometime after that encounter they will probably try to find you online. If they can't find you online, or if they are underwhelmed by what they do find, the chances of them supporting you or engaging with you diminish.

Inbound marketing is a collection of techniques designed to help people—the right people—find you online. Inbound marketing has three overriding goals. First, maximize the number of people who find you online. Second, maximize the quality of those leads—otherwise you might get a lot of tire-kickers. Finally, maximize your conversion rate—that is, the percentage of your online visitors who become "converted" into donors, volunteers, or into doing the other things you want them to do. Since most nonprofits have an online conversion rate of 0 to 2 percent, inbound marketing can only help them improve.

Here are some of the key inbound marketing techniques:

  1. Search engine optimization (SEO): SEO includes techniques within your website to boost your search engine standing and thereby help you get more traffic to and support through your website.
  2. Search engine marketing (SEM): SEM is like SEO but includes techniques external to your website.
  3. Pay-per-click (PPC): PPC enables you to buy your way to the top of the search engine standings. Through Google Grants, most nonprofits can easily get a grant entitling them to up to $10,000 per month in free Google AdWords.
  4. Content creation: You should be consistently creating fresh, relevant content—and posting it to your website, social media, blog, e-newsletter, and articles.

2. Not measuring outcomes

Nonprofits typically need to do a better job of setting goals—and then creating/deploying strategies to achieve those goals. Furthermore, each of those strategies and techniques should be measured periodically. Those that prove effective should be continued. Those that are ineffective should either be tweaked so they become effective or discontinued and replaced with other techniques.

Here are potential areas for which you may want to establish goals:

  1. # clients served
  2. $ raised (online, offline, and total)
  3. # event attendees
  4. # website visitors
  5. # e-mail list subscribers
  6. # Twitter followers
  7. # Facebook likes

Each of your goals should be specific, measurable, and attainable.

3. Failing to attract board members beyond your inner circle, and failing to hold them accountable

Some nonprofits recruit board members from the close circle of friends or colleagues of existing board members and management. This may be an effective and convenient place to start but should not be the end of looking for good board members. For example, nonprofits should be recruiting board members online, especially via LinkedIn and other social media connections. You may want to use professional board recruiters as well.

Hold board members accountable for the results they achieve. This means setting and measuring goals, as discussed above. It also means making each board member responsible for a specific amount of fundraising. If a prospective donor finds out that some of your board members don't donate, he or she may question why he/she should donate. Take this objection off the table by requiring each board member to "give or get" a specific amount.

Each board member should sign up for (or get assigned) specific tasks with designated outcomes.

Hold some board meetings via webinar. Board members are often busy and difficult to schedule in the same place at the same time. So hold some of your board meetings via webinar—either with or without webcams, screen sharing, and slides. They'll be able to participate from wherever they happen to be, as long as they have Internet access—even through their mobile phones.

4. Not paying for performance

The way an employee performs is often highly correlated with the way he or she is compensated. Most nonprofit employees, especially development and executive directors, have little or none of their pay tied to performance-related goals. Each employee should have specific, attainable, measure goals that are directly correlated with his or her compensation. This principle should apply to management, staff, and consultants. Even though they are not paid, board members and volunteers may become more productive if their goals are made more in alignment with your nonprofit's goals.

Allan Pressel, PowerSite123
© 2014, PowerSite123

Allan Pressel is CEO of PowerSite123, which helps nonprofits create world-class websites, social media, SEO, and marketing. Allan is a world-renowned ePhilanthropy speaker. Allan is co-author of Internet Management for Nonprofits. He was given the Volunteer Service Award by President George W. Bush. Allan was co-founder of i-Cube, which had a highly successful IPO. Feel free to contact Allan with any questions at (310) 363-0095 or allan@powersite123.com.