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4 practical tips to help your nonprofit grow

The following is a guest post by Alana Bender.

WishingNo one knows the challenges a nonprofit faces better than its employees. Day-in and day-out, we're trying to move the mission forward, encourage volunteers and raise donations, usually on a shoestring budget. Running a nonprofit is full of challenges, and fortunately, there are a number of tools at your disposal to help your nonprofit grow.

Donations from big donors dipped somewhat in 2012, as seen in the Blackbaud Index on nonprofit donations. And while the market’s tight overall in regards to donor contributions, reports big donors are more apt to give higher amounts of money to organizations that are looking to grow rapidly. If your nonprofit can grow quickly, then you may be more interesting to large donors. It's a situation akin to the types of investments that small tech startups have seen in recent years.

If your nonprofit is struggling in a still-sluggish economy, here are some tacks nonprofit leaders have utilized to better market themselves.

Go Mobile

The analyst firm Gartner predicted that this year, mobile phones will surpass personal computers as the most common device people use to access the Internet. It's imperative your nonprofit's website be optimized for mobile. Invest in a developer who can design a site that's friendly on all devices (desktops, laptops, smartphones and tablets). This is known as "responsive design,” and it could make all the difference to a potential donor who is visiting your site from a mobile device.

Relatedly, staff members and volunteers should be connected on the go, as well. In this age of connectivity, constituents and donors demand response times that usually only mobile service can provide. Consider a BYOD (bring your own device) policy or compare cell phones to provide for staffers.

The Power of Video

Are you using video to broadcast your message? Twitter co-founder Biz Stone suggests nonprofits do so in an article at The nonprofit Charity: Water uses original, thought-provoking video to spread its message with great success, and YouTube encourages the use of video for nonprofits through its own program. It's one of the quickest, most efficient means of getting your message to as many potential donors in one go.

Social Media

Social media is becoming an integral part of fundraising. Social media can build up a substantial amount of followers who believe in your nonprofit's mission, and using it enables you to develop a relationship with them. Make sure you are being consistent with your social media efforts; they reinforce your organization's key messages and help build trust with donors.

Direct Mailings and Email Marketing

Postal mailings are still an effective means to communicate with constituents. The Direct Marketing Association’s 2012 report shows that the average business makes $7 for every dollar spent on direct mail. If you're not conducting an email marketing effort as well, do so – the typical business makes $28.50 for every dollar spent on email marketing efforts. These types of communications work well together to reinforce your organization's targeted message.

After receiving her Computer Science degree in NorCal, Alana's interest in writing about technology took over when she began freelancing for various blogs and publications. Aside from writing, Alana has a special love for the beach and anything Apple.


Topics: Nonprofit Leadership and Practice