For nonprofit organizations, rarely a day goes by without worrying about resource allocation. In its most recent annual survey, the Nonprofit Finance Fund found that 56 percent of nonprofits were unable to meet demand for services in 2013—the highest number on record. Additionally, these organizations identified long-term financial stability as the greatest challenge they currently face.
The simple fact is that nonprofits rely heavily on donations and the combination of a sluggish economy, and increased competition makes those donor dollars more difficult to secure. In many cases, the natural reaction for these organizations is to make cuts to services, staff and a variety of other areas. It may seem prudent to reduce marketing budgets as well but, in fact, that tact is likely to do more harm than good.
For fundraising, the old adage that “you have to spend money to make money” is fitting. Sure, these organizations could save a few dollars here and there on donor outreach, but that strategy is penny wise and pound foolish, because the small savings upfront will cost the nonprofit significantly more down the line.
Let’s look at a real-world example. Say a nonprofit organization is gearing up for its annual gala dinner, its single biggest fundraising event of the year. In an effort to save cash it enlists volunteers to create and mail print invitations, craft email invites and make reminder phone calls to its donor base. All of the work gets done, but the invitations have an amateur feel and the volunteers making the outbound calls are not effective because they aren’t immersed in the organization’s mission statement and don’t have a script.
When the donations are tabulated in the days after the event, the organization finds that the total is five percent off from last year. Even factoring in the savings from using mostly volunteers, the event raised less than the year before, meaning the next 12 months will require even more fiscal belt-tightening.
Now imagine this same organization had partnered with a company offering multichannel marketing solutions. By making an upfront investment and outsourcing part of the planning, the nonprofit optimized its marketing efforts for the event. Instead of hastily designed, one-size-fits-all invitations it leveraged the partner’s print capabilities to create professional custom mailings. Rather than using volunteers with no outbound calling experience the organization had highly-trained Communicators read directly from a custom script it helped write.
In the aftermath of the event, the organization finds that it attracted more guests to the gala this year and raised significantly more money as a result. The cost of teaming with a marketing partner is more than offset and the next fiscal year looks a little brighter.
There is no shortage of other real-life examples of how a multichannel marketing partner can help boost a nonprofit’s operations, from adding Web self-service for donations to improving outreach with information gathered using business intelligence.
The bottom line is that most nonprofits need some assistance from time to time. A partner that truly understands the landscape can make the difference between a fiscally successful year and a difficult one. Which would your organization rather have?