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Archive for August, 2011

Are We Reaching Our Audience?

Nonprofit (public benefit) organizations have a number of audiences to reach. Determining the right message for particular audiences, and figuring out if the message is getting through are two important marketing challenges for any nonprofit.

Audiences come in two flavors:

  • Primary Customers who benefit from the service provided by the nonprofit, and
  • Supporting Customers who (ta-da!) support the mission as volunteers or as donors.

Staff work with the board of directors to clarify who comprise the Primary Customers. The folks receiving our service. The folks who are good candidates to benefit from the service we provide, whether its smoking cessation service, performance at our nonprofit theater, parents of kids at our day care center, outdoorspeople who want an adequate supply of clean air and clean water to enjoy.

How are we going to communicate with our target audience?  What media will get our message to the people we want to reach? And how can we best craft our message so its likely to be received in the way we intended?

Nonprofit communication professionals also need to think about and develop action plans that will effectively reach Supporting Customers. When we have something important to say to those who help us accomplish the goals associated with our mission, we want to be sure we reach that audience. That we speak with clarity.  That we not be Chicken Little crying that the sky is falling. But that we clearly articulate the need of our Primary Customers so our Supporting Customers know that the work they do for us, that the contributions they make to our cause, will be used in a way that advances the essential work we do.

The nonprofit organization needs to think this through in a smart and creative way. And then put the good thinking into action. It’s not rocket science. But it takes some focus and good work by the professionals on the staff. And it emanates from solid strategies set forth and approved by the board of directors.

With this approach, it’s likely that our aim is true.

Oh.  My thanks to Leader to Leader, founded by Peter Drucker the management teacher who in his lifetime helped nonprofit leaders think in terms of mission, customers and their needs, and properly focused strategy to meet those needs.

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Hub & Spoke Approach to Fundraising

A helpful way to talk with your nonprofit board of directors about raising money is to draw a hub with spokes on the white board.

The board of directors is the hub.  Now ask board members to help identify the spokes in this representation.

One spoke might be the clients you serve: the primary customers of your nonprofit organization. The ticket-buyers to your events if you’re an arts organization.

The second spoke can be your current donors. The folks who respond to your annual appeal, the “members” who donate each year, the people who turn out for special event fundraisers each year.

The third spoke may be the network of volunteers on various committees, the folks who help out at the office, others who do volunteer work for you.

The idea is to use this visual representation to get your board thinking about the various networks you have access to. Including networks they are connected to. And then, what are the best approaches to these various groups on the various spokes?  How can the people at the hub at your nonprofit get people in the spokes to elevate their game on your behalf:  raise money, advocate for you, serve as ambassadors in their communities for you.

The fundamental here is to engage your board in a way that gets them seeing how they can help in ways they may not have considered before. Extraordinary times call for taking a look at resources in new, not-so-extraordinary ways.

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