We’re almost two full months into 2017, but there’s still plenty of time for nonprofits to tweak their fundraising and marketing strategies this year to reach and exceed goals for growth.

There are certainly tried and true, effective methods that nonprofits can utilize to reach supporters and raise money for their worthy causes — such as direct mail. (See “How to Get Donations for Your Non-Profit.”)

But it’s also true that the changing political, cultural and technological climate should be factored into the fundraising and marketing strategy of any nonprofit. So what do those changes mean for nonprofits in 2017?

In a recent article at NonProfit Pro, “observations and predictions from some of the nonprofit sector’s smartest people” were collected and developed into 40 trends nonprofits should look for in 2017. The trends were divided up into five categories: Big Ideas; Fundraising and Marketing; Tech, Online and Digital; Giving Trends and Donor Relations; and Leadership.

The whole article is worth a read, but here we want to focus on some of the fundraising and marketing trends for nonprofits identified in the post:

Integrated Online Social Fundraising

“You’re no longer in charge of the way folks find and learn about you. So, you must be in multiple spaces simultaneously, with consistent and integrated messaging. Understand that merely fundraising through multiple channels does not mean you’ve achieved integration from the consumer’s perspective. It’s only integrated if you have coordinated images, messages and offers — everything reinforcing everything else. People only know one you. Your brand is either compelling and crystal clear, or muddled.”

In general, nonprofits need to make sure that they control the messaging of their official channels: direct mail, email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. And each of these channels of communication should communicate the same unique brand and messaging. This is especially true for integrated fundraising campaigns. (See “Integrated Fundraising Strategies for Non-Profits.”)

If supporters and potential supporters are confused about the mission of the nonprofit, or the purpose of a campaign, based on the messaging seen when jumping from one channel to the other, they’re likely to think that the organization doesn’t have its act together and might end up wasting the supporter’s donation.

Tell Your Best Story

“There have been many marketing and communications trends that have shaped the nonprofit sector over the years. However, in 2017, storytelling will become an essential communications tools for nonprofits looking to drive new donor engagement and ongoing support. The best way to engage with new and existing donors is through storytelling. Good storytelling is more than just sharing a case study or engaging on social media, it’s telling a story that piques one’s interest and draws them in. Making a personal connection is key, and can be done by showing your donors what happens with their donations and how they are making a difference. Nonprofits should plan and invest in creating stories that will connect with their target audience, increase social and online engagement, and drive people to donate.”

A key point for nonprofits to remember about storytelling: Don’t tell a story that you want to tell, tell a story that donors want to hear. Maybe it was tragic that the leak in your roof caused the ceiling in your office to collapse on your brand new computer. And you just spent hours installing and upgrading software! That’s not the type of emotional storytelling that’s going to drive donations. (See “Direct Mail Program Essentials: Writing Emotional Copy.”)

Retention Over Acquisition

“Too many nonprofits have their priorities backwards. They spend 80 percent of their time and resources courting the 80 percent of donors who will give them 20 percent of their funding. And then they do very little to keep their newly acquired donors. It’s not smart to do expensive donor acquisition, then lose eight out of 10 new donors because you don’t steward them effectively. Bottom line: It’s more cost-effective to retain a donor than to acquire one.”

Getting that second gift from a donor can be hard, but when nonprofits invest their time in forming that bond and building the trust needed to get that next gift, they open the door for a lifetime of giving from that supporter.

Direct mail prospecting is vital for nonprofits to grow their donor database and House file. Once acquired, bonding those existing donors with the organization makes it a lot easier to ask for that next gift, or an increase in giving. A great way nonprofits can cement recurring gifts is through a monthly giving program. (See “Monthly Giving: A Key Fundraising Technique.”)

Email Holds Strong

“Email is only going to increase in importance in 2017. Social tools and platforms continue to proliferate, from Snapchat to Instagram, all competing for eyes and attention. Email is the only tool that allows marketers and fundraisers to push eyeballs and drive engagement online. The value of an email address, with permission to mail, is increasing year over year — and that won’t change soon.”

Email fundraising is increasingly important, but it is still lightyears behind direct mail in terms of effectiveness for raising money. Nonprofits shouldn’t rely solely on email and social media if they truly want to grow. These tools must be integrated with and supportive of a strong direct mail program. (See “Why Direct Mail Is Still a Key Fundraising Technique.”)

Behavioral Targeting, Not Just Recency Frequency Modeling

“When someone visits your site and digests a specific type of content, they are raising their hand to say that’s something of interest to them. This means that you have the opportunity to market to these people in a much different fashion when it comes to your digital marketing. You have the ability to serve different display retargeting campaigns based on the user’s experience on your site. If users are logged into the site and this information enters your CRM, you can use it to send targeted email/mobile triggers to the user. You can also create custom audiences in Facebook and serve targeted ads that acknowledge their interests. These are all techniques that many in the for-profit world are already taking advantage of, and I urge the nonprofit industry to do the same and communicate with their supporters about what’s most important to them, not us.”

The more nonprofits can learn about their supporters, the better their chances of bonding with them — IF the nonprofit is properly utilizing the data they’re collecting. By targeting fundraising campaigns to supporters based on what interests them, nonprofits can increase the likelihood of acquiring donations on those campaigns.

If a donor has made it clear they’re only interested in supporting a nonprofit’s projects in Africa, don’t waste the time and money to solicit them on European projects. The nonprofit’s executive director might think the European project is more important, but that doesn’t matter. What matters most is what the donor cares about.

To learn more about how LDMI can help develop your nonprofit’s fundraising and marketing strategies to help take your organization to the next level of growth, please contact us today.


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