Trends

Liz Polay-Wettengel is National Director of Marketing and Communications for InterfaithFamily, a Jewish non-profit based in Newton, MA.

For three years in a row, my colleagues from InterfaithFamily and I have participated in the annual Nonprofit Tech Conference (from NTEN). It is, by far, the conference that we learn the most from. Every year, we have come back with new ideas, fresh perspectives, and tools to do what we do better.

This year was no different. Held in Washington DC, the 3,000 attendees at the 2017 conference brainstormed on topics far beyond the “traditional” definition of technology—nonprofit marketing, development, leadership, and organizational infrastructure.

Key takeaways from my deep-dive into NTC learning include:

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Nancy Schwartz on April 13, 2017 in Trends | 0 comments
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2016 Nonprofit Marketing TrendsI relish the roll out of trends at the end of each year, digesting them in the context of what’s working for our clients and passing on what matters most to nonprofit marketers. I’ve seen typically broad-ranging predictions for 2016, but these two constants central to our work have been heralded by multiple sources:

  • Data, drawn from all channels, will continue to grow exponentially in volume
  • Marketers like us will continue to struggle to share it, interpret it, and put it to work in a productive way.

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Nancy Schwartz on December 15, 2015 in Trends | 1 comment
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#14ntcTakeawaysToday’s guest blogger, James Porter, is Associate Director, Development & Communications for the END Fund, a nonprofit dedicated to controlling and eliminating neglected tropical diseases.

9 presenters, 70 minutes, and 143 slides— those are the ingredients to a great #14NTCTakeaways!

Last week, 501TechNYC—the New York chapter of NTEN’s 501 Tech Clubs—met to recap the 2014 Nonprofit Technology Conference (#14NTC). Presenters spoke on topics ranging from online coalition building to storytelling.

So with that much content, what WERE the #14NTCTakeaways every nonprofit communicator needs to know? Here goes:

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Nancy Schwartz on April 3, 2014 in Trends | 2 comments
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Is Your Org Ready To Put An Engaged Base To Work -- Pew Survey Findings Show High Voter Expectations Of Involvement In Obama AdministrationThere’s so much emphasis on the challenge of building your organization’s base. After all, without a base, there’s no progress.

But once you open the door, you have to be ready to welcome and more fully involve your base. You need to walk the talk — if you invite folks to give or sign a petition, to staff a table or to participate in a program, then continue to be responsive, enabling them to be (increasingly) involved in the way they want to be. Far too many organizations aren’t poised to do so and play mad catch up, risking a vital resource.

Nothing proves the need to walk this talk more strongly than the recent release of survey results on post-election voter engagement (thanks to the Pew Internet and American Life Project). Researcher Aaron Rich reports that most of Obama’s campaign troops plan to remain engaged with the incoming Obama Administration and mobilize others in support of his agenda. That’s no surprise to me, but is the administration ready?

Rich also reports out that:

  • 62% of Obama voters expect to be involved in moving the administration’s agenda forward by asking others to support its policies. That’s voters, not campaigners.
  • 46% of Obama voters and 33% of McCain voters expect to hear directly from their candidate or party leaders over the next year, and many of them have a particular medium (phone vs. email vs. text vs. social networking) in mind.

Things are clearly different now, with Obama’s base (and McCain’s too, to a lesser extent) unwilling to shrink into the background. For example, my ornery friend Mark Sirkin complained to me today that he “…had to yell at [the Obama transition team] for calling me on the phone. I said hey, I’m a Web donor  [so get me online]. Don’t make me give you a fake phone number.

Dig into these findings yourself to understand fully how your base’s expectations have changed. They are going to expect to be more actively involved in forwarding your issues themselves. You have to be ready to give them whatever guidance, tools info or motivation they need to do so most effectively. Are YOU ready?

Click the Comments link below to tell me how your organization is helping your base move your issues or causes forward, or not.

P. S. Don’t miss out on the in-depth articles, case studies and guides on key nonprofit communications topics featured in the Getting Attention e-alert. Subscribe today.

Nancy Schwartz on January 7, 2009 in Campaign Marketing Models & Tips, Nonprofit Communications, Trends, Viral Marketing, Volunteers | 1 comment
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Take Me to Your Leader -- Campaign to Keep Your Marketing Strong in Tough TimesYou know that far too often marketing is perceived as a support function, rather than a strategic one. And, in tough times like these, the marketing budget is often the first to be cut. That’s why I was particularly pleased to speak to a record turnout of nonprofit marketers and fundraisers down in Sarasota last week.

Nothing’s more important now than ensuring your organization’s leaders get that cutting marketing back now is a BAD MOVE! No program succeeds without participants; no service lasts without users; few organizations stay healthy without a strong donor and volunteer base — and marketing is the way that these groups are reached, engaged, retained and motivated to act.

Challenge your organization’s leaders NOW if they’re shying away from investing in marketing. If they do, the org will really suffer longterm. Arm yourself with as many hard stats and success stories as you can. Talk about what colleague and competitive organizations are doing, and what you’ll lose if your organization retreats now. Show your case, always more effective than telling it. But do it now, proactively.

Don’t forget to email me on how it goes: Let’s share strategies so we can continue to strengthen the sector, rather than step back and watch it deflate.
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Nancy Schwartz on September 16, 2008 in Nonprofit Communications, Planning and Evaluation, Trends | 0 comments
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Budget-Strapped For-Profits Seek Guidance from Resourceful Nonprofit MarketersTalk about turning convention on its ear!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked to speak about putting for-profit marketing strategies to work for nonprofits. But now that the economy is in the dumps, and everyone’s challenged by too-small marketing budgets, perspectives are changing.

Get this: I just got a request from the South Florida chapter of the American Marketing Association to present on putting nonprofit marketing strategies to work for for-profits.

The best nonprofit marketers are innovative, scrappy, resourceful and persistent; qualities that should be shared by all marketers so they can do the most with whatever budget they have. I’m pleased to see that recession-based budget cuts are propagating that understanding.

Now how much should I really tell?

Get everything you need to know on nonprofit marketing via in-depth case studies and articles featured in Getting Attention e-updates. You’re missing out if you read this blog, but not the e-updates. Subscribe today!

Nancy Schwartz on July 30, 2008 in Nonprofit Communications, Trends, Unique Approaches | 1 comment
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Taking Our Pulse The State of Nonprofit Marketing ReportI recently came across The State of Nonprofit Marketing: A Report on Priorities, Spending, Measurement and The Challenges Ahead. The report, based on survey results from 1,000+ nonprofit marketers, was produced by Lipman Hearne and the American Marketing Association, and released at last week’s American Marketing Association Nonprofit Marketing Conference.

When you dig in (and you should always read takes on our field, especially since there are far too few), you’ll find some very useful findings and some I interpret a bit differently than do the authors:

  • Building awareness is the top marketing priority for you and your peers in nonprofit marketing.
    • No surprise here. Awareness has to be the first step to motivating any real engagement or action.
    • If you don’t know or understand an organization’s focus and work, why would you become involve at any level?
  • PR, community relations and customer/member relations are the most effective awareness building strategies:
    • Lipman Hearne and AMA tend to represent large organizations, with significant infrastructures.
    • These types of organizations tend to work most (and be most comfortable) with traditional communications strategies, like PR, that are generally one-way communications.
    • They’re focused on “reaching and persuading their audiences” vs. listening to and participating in conversations.
  • Few nonprofits (only 37%) track the impact of their marketing strategies from SEO to paid advertising:
    • Even key indicators, such as the impact of paid print and interactive advertising to build brand, are seldom tracked. Scary. Without tracking, you’re driving blind. Crash!
    • This finding reinforces the 2007 Getting Attention Nonprofit Marketing Survey which found that only 37% of nonprofit organizations track marketing impact.
  • Nonprofit marketing budgets are extremely limited, typically to 2 to 3% of an organization’s operating budget.
    • If you’re dealing with this much-less-than-it-should-be budget, you have only 20% of the what you need to effectively put marketing strategies to work to achieve organizational goals. Learn how to build your budget here: Getting the Approval and Budget You Need to Do Marketing Right.
    • The report emphasizes the importance of focusing on online marketing and fundraising (broad reach, small cost), via featured guidance from one of the leaders at NPower Greater DC.
      • However, recent research shared by The Agitator shows that “with the exception of direct mail, fund raisers
        say that all types of appeals were doing less well in the past six
        months than they had expected when the year started.”

What’s your response to these findings and recommendations? Please let me know by clicking the Comments link below.

Get everything you need to know on nonprofit marketing via in-depth case studies and articles featured in Getting Attention e-updates. You’re missing out if you read this blog, but not the e-updates. Subscribe today!

Nancy Schwartz on July 24, 2008 in Nonprofit Communications, Recommended Resources, Trends | 1 comment
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Web 20 is Hot, but Email is Where It's At, Finds 2008 eNonprofit Benchmarks StudyA new study released recently measured 2007 internet fundraising and activism of nonprofits and highlights the continued importance of the Internet to the sector. The 2008 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study, co-authored by M+R Strategic Services and Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) adds new depth to 2006 benchmarks findings with additional data on the importance of major donors and ‘super activists.’

Here’s the essence: Email fatigue is here — open and click-through rates are down — but it remains far more effective than Web 2.0 strategies and annual gift size is increasing.
The report includes many benchmarks you can use to gauge the success of your nonprofit’s e-marketing and e-fundraising. Other key findings (and related tips) include:

  • Finding: The total amount raised online increased by 19 percent from 2006 to 2007
    • Tip: Keep focusing on your online presence and fundraising.
  • Finding: The average nonprofit sent over 4 emails per subscriber per month in both 2006 and 2007.
    • Tip: Don’t take a break from your email schedule. Keep the schedule you’ve promised to your readers. Weekly is great; more often if warranted; monthly ok; less than that not advised.
  • Finding: Email open rates, click-through rates and response rates have fallen from 21.3 percent to 17.6 percent, and click-through rates have dropped from 4.9 percent to 3.8 percent.
    • Finding: The average advocacy email response rate in 2007 was 7.5%. The average fundraising email response rate was 0.13%.
    • Tip: But more emails are being sent out, for a net:net that’s not bad.
  • Finding: ‘Super activists,’ taking six or more online actions in a year, made up just 5 percent of the total email list size but accounted for 42 percent of the organizations’ total actions.
    • Tip: Find these folks and make it easy for them to take frequent action. It’s likely their great donors, or giving prospects, too.

Put these findings to work in crafting your marketing and fundraising plans.

P.S. The NTEN/M+R team has done a stellar job of marketing the report with its report-focused mini-site, webinar and coverage on both of the org’s Web sites. True multi-channel marketing!

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Nancy Schwartz on May 15, 2008 in Fundraising: Innovations & Research, Nonprofit Communications, Recommended Resources, Trends | 0 comments
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New Research Unmasks the Wired Wealthy -- Connect Better with Middle and Major DonorsWhat makes people give online, and how can you motivate them to give to your organization?  Convio, Sea Change Strategies and Edge Research recently answered these questions via an in-depth study of some 3,400 wired donors who make four-figure or higher gifts to one or more causes. And get this — "or the nonprofits who shared data, this segment of donors represents just 1% of their active donor file, but 32% of their annual revenue," says Convio founder and Chief Strategy Officer Vinay Bhagat.

The results, available here in full, offer some useful guidance on closing the gap between your org and your donors and here are just a few of the findings you can use to refine your strategies. The wired wealthy are:

  • Very generous givers
    • Give an average of $10,896 eachyear to various causes, with a median gift of $4,500
  • Notably wealthy
    • More than twenty-five percent (25%) have household incomes above $200,000 per year. More than half have annual household incomes above $100,000.
  • Mostly boomers (born between 1946 and 1964)
    • With the center of gravity falling right in the middle of the baby boom cohort.
  • Extremely wired
    • Have been using the Internet for an average of 12 years
    • Online an average of 18 hours per week
  • Give online and via other channels
    • Like the speed, efficiency and instant gratification of online giving
    • Will be shifting more giving to online over next few years.

Clearly, you have to be online in a sophisticated way that engages boomers to succeed in this competitive arena.

Here’s another vital finding: There are three main ways in which these donors want to relate to orgs they give to — all business; relationship seekers; casual connectors.

"The three clusters offer some important clues about what kinds of communications your wired wealthy constituents…value, and might also help temper organizational expectations. Moreover, [the clustering indicates] that most organizations have a long way to go to fully satisfy even the most modest donor demands and expectations. And, it argues strongly for implementing some sort of psychographic segmentation so that you can cultivate relationships with the very different, yet equally valuable…clusters."

You’ll find lots more data to guide your marketing and fundraising efforts in the full report.

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Nancy Schwartz on April 30, 2008 in Audience Research, Fundraising: Innovations & Research, Recommended Resources, Trends | 1 comment
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Pull Your Base into Your Org for Powerful Marketing (and More) -- Carnival of Nonprofit ConsultantsThis is it. The boiled-down, essential, greatest potential takeaway I have from the Nonprofit Technology Conference
is the value of
imperative for nonprofit marketers to fully involve our bases in our organizations.

It’s not just about Web 2.0, social marketing gewgaws, getting attention, or capitalizing on our constituencies’ (external audiences, partners, boards, colleagues or…) creativity or intellects to create high-impact content. The whole dynamic has shifted, and you have to embrace it.

Here’s confirmation and some exciting models:

  • ServingYouth’s Amy Jussel is passionate about engaging communities in program design and content creation. She points to HopeLab’s global idea competition to get kids exercising as a great example. Contests are definitely a great way to crowdsource (get ideas from the field) and get your audiences involved and excited.
  • I just love this one! Joanne Fritz recommends Peter Shankman’s matchmaking service to connect journalists expert sources like you. Jump onto Shankman’s Help a Reporter today to register for this no-charge, grassroots version of ProfNet.
  • Ashoka intern David Stoker points to the power of an engaged citizen base, as outlined in this great overview from Ahshoka’s Citizen Base Initiative.
    • “…That a nonprofit can engage a community like a church or sports team does is very interesting. Team fans do all sorts of crazy things: sacrifice large amounts of their time and money, and more.  And what they get in return is much more complex than ‘entertainment’.  The idea that a nonprofit can engage its community in a way that satisfies similar needs is exciting, and seeing so many examples [in this paper] of creative ways orgs are already doing so intrigues me,” says Stoker.

I couldn’t have said it better myself, David. Don’t wait till your base goes elsewhere; remember, loyalty is to issues, not to organizations. Open up your arms today.

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Nancy Schwartz on March 24, 2008 in 08NTC, Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants, Citizen Participation/Crowdsourcing, Nonprofit Communications, Strategy, Trends | 0 comments
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