This ONE Thing Will Transform Your Marketing & Fundraising

The opportunity you have right now is SO big, that it’s a bit overwhelming. …
You have a blank canvas of a year in front of you, and the marketing and fundraising actions you take right now will have a huge impact on your results.

So, what are you going to change? And what should stay the same? How will you create a masterpiece with this year of time and opportunity?

You know that marketing and fundraising have to be more on target than ever, with messages based on right-now data and stories from across your channels, campaigns, and programs. That’s the path to Priority 2014—the relevant, memorable and unified supporter or participant experience you must provide, an experience that builds on each supporter’s or participant’s till-now engagement with your organization and is most likely to motivate her next action.

Practically speaking, there’s just ONE path to that kind of unified experience: Right-Things, Right-Now Marketing.  Get there with this Right-Things, Right-Now Nonprofit Marketing Plan Template

Here’s how to produce a relevant, memorable and unified supporter experience:

1) Center supporters and participants at the heart of your organization, now and forever.

This isn’t bright-and-shiny new, but it’s more important than ever. Let me put it this way: If you don’t shape program and services, marketing and fundraising around your supporters’ and participants’ actions, wants, habits, and values, you’ll alienate folks who are close now and fail miserably in making new friends.

Volunteers, donors, activists, program participants, and other supporters are vital to achieving your mission. You can’t do it without them, so keep your eye on the prize.

To Do

  • Focus on no more than three groups of individuals—those most likely to take the actions you need or who represent the greatest risk to achieving your mission if not engaged this year.
  • Break these groups into segments by special interest, wants, previous actions, location, or any other combination of selections
  • Get to know them (see #3 below).

2) Listen to and learn from your people in a way that’s radically different from what you’re doing right now.

To Do

  • Set your end goal as treating (and communicating with) your supporters and participants as individuals, rather than one-size-fits-all, as much as possible. That means, each person’s experience (or segment of folks with like experiences) defines your marketing and fundraising approaches.
  • To get there, learn everything you can about your people every way you can, on an ongoing basis:
    • Develop personas or profiles that typify a member of each audience or segment and surround yourself and your colleagues with persona head shots—it’s hokey, but it keeps the people who count at the top of everyone’s mind
    • Create an ad hoc marketing advisory group to call on for super-short input when you are uncertain about a certain message, channel, or approach. What you think counts far less!
    • Listen to what’s being said about your organization and team online, and engage with the speakers human-to-human
    • Survey via brief online questionnaires, motivating participation via e-mail and social media channels, and concrete incentives
    • Collect information on interests and more via every single active transaction (giving, volunteer sign up, event registration) pages, e-mail, social and, conversations.

3) Set up systems, roles, and responsibilities to harvest, share, and analyze data, feedback, anecdotes plus  other insights

To Do

  • Assess where supporter information to date—preferences, habits, relationships and interactions— lives across all departments and databases in your organization
  • Implement a robust database tool that enables you to connect all data on a single supporter or participant (now fragmented in multiple departments and records) in a single, in-depth profile. That the key to the rich insights (a true 360-degree perspective) necessary for truly integrated marketing that reflects your supporters’ interactions with your organization over time, and is delivered consistently—across marketing channels and strategies—for a more relevant, resonant experience.
  • Log, share, and analyze what you learn about your people across your organization—instead of limiting analysis to actions within a single program, campaign or channel—in a way that’s easy to access for all.

The more coordinated and robust your insight is into each person you’re hoping to engage, the greater the probability you’ll motivate him or her to take the next action (or realize that he/she’s not a likely prospect).

4) Shape rewarding and connected relationships with your people OVER TIME—a cumulative supporter or participant experience.

Your prospects and supporters are just like you—Individuals want, and in many cases, expect, content and programs to be customized to their preferences, habits, and history of action.

The Altimeter Research Group has deemed this the “me-cosystem: The ecosystem that revolves around “me,” an organization’s data and technologies to deliver more relevant, useful, and engaging experiences. Supporters will benefit from contextualized experiences (digitally and otherwise), in exchange for giving up personal data.”

To Do

  • Apply your learnings and analysis, and those of your colleagues, to shape marketing and fundraising outreach, and hone programs and services on the fly; and
  • Ensure that one experience links to the next for each one of them (within reason, of course).

The “days of the one-off marketing project or fundraising campaign are over. Now it’s about data and profiles and [a series] of connected experiences,” says Dianne Wilkins, CEO, Critical Mass.

5) Get agile to satisfy supporter expectations that your nonprofit is constantly adapting to fit their schedules and lives

And that has to include how they interact (or not) with your marketing and fundraising outreach, and your programs and services.

Beware! There’s still way too much talking about data and stories among nonprofits, and way too little acting on these insights. Priority 2014 means changing that. In fact, “[supporters and participants] are insisting that [nonprofits] sew together all of the micro-interactions (between organizations and individuals) in an intelligent way. And when [organizations] disappoint, their people often let them have it, and very publicly,” says Wilkins.

To Do

  • Replace traditional campaigns—based on pre-determined start and stop dates and series of messages—with real-time marketing, based on supporters and participants’ actions and schedules
  • Kill the e-mail blasts—sending the same e-mail to everyone at the same time—(they’re the loudest “who cares” I know; who wants to be blasted?)
  • Segment your lists as precisely as time, expertise and tools allow, grouping prospects by shared wants, values, or engagement history to produce more relevant content
  • Start to tear down the age-old barrier between program and marketing/fundraising efforts (and views of your participants and supporters).

6) Shift toward “all for one and one for all” teamwork

Priority? Throw down the gauntlet and tear down your marketing and fundraising ivory tower to excite and empower your colleagues!

In fact, that’s the only way you’ll build the all-organization relationships, sense of adventure, and satisfaction necessary to drive a speeded-up marketing, delivery, and revision cycle on both program/service and marketing/fundraising fronts.

To Do

  • Join your colleagues across your organization in shaping ambitious but realistic roles and responsibilities for data and story gathering, sharing, analysis, and action.
  • Dedicate yourself, no matter your role, to making your donor experience as relevant and resonant as possible.

I urge you to forget whether you staff a program, run the teen volunteer program, do back-end accounting, or have the word “marketing” in your title. Instead, focus on joining forces to produce a satisfying, memorable, and unified supporter experience. It’s the ONE thing that will move your mission forward.

Bonus: Reduces your workload, increases your confidence that you’re doing the right thing, and sends your professional happiness sky high.

Kick start your ONE thing now, with the Right-Things, Right-Now Nonprofit Marketing Plan Template

Toward a Relevant, Unified Supporter Experience–What are You Doing Now?
What are you doing to deliver right-things, right-now marketing? What’s working, and what’s getting in your way? Please share your experience here.

P.S. Thanks to Gary Keller for inspiring me to focus on the ONE thing, as “Success demands singleness of purpose.”  I strongly recommend you read Keller’s The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results