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Community Connectivity for your Nonprofit

No nonprofit is an island. We achieve success in our Mission by employing networks. We connect people who together can add more value than they can individually, all by their lonesome.
So finding intelligent ways to connect to put our Mission to work in our community should be one of the primary jobs of a nonprofit executive and those who work under her/his leadership.
One good way to get this done is through Rotary. I recommend that nonprofit executives join their local Rotary Clubs. Or, other community connecting organizations like the Lions.
Joining the Chamber of Commerce is a peachy idea, too.
Places where connections happen. Where the executive can learn what’s cooking in the community and demonstrate the value of their nonprofit.
Right now, the Rotary Club of Peabody (Massachusetts) is preparing for our Taste of the North Shore. This is our biggest fundraiser of the year, and we’ve been going strong for ten years. Raising upwards of $15K to then bestow on community charities to do their good work. As well as support Rotary International Foundation to do work on a worldwide scope. Like fighting Polio.
Connecting is a fundamental for delivering good work.
Find your best way to accomplish it and your Mission will go further than it would otherwise.

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People to Watch: Pam Moore

There’s a special cluster of folk I pay particular attention to among the 2,500 I follow on Twitter. One of the thought leaders in Social Media is Pam Moore. You can find her @PamMktgNut on Twitter, and on her website http://www.pammarketingnut.com. Most recently, (October 22, 2012) she delivered “Social Return on Relationships: 13 Tips to Ignite Relevant Value.” Pam delivers value on her tweets, on her tweet-ups, on her blog. She’s down-to-earth and shares stuff you can understand and use easily. She’s among the top ten folks I’m touting to my friends in the nonprofit sector.

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We Know. But Does Our Target Audience Know?

Inside the public benefit (nonprofit) organization, staff and board and other volunteers know what our business is.  Whether we’re a day care center, a performing arts collaborative, a senior center….whatever we are, we know and our clients know what we’re delivering. What sets us apart from other public benefit organizations.  This is a crucial part of our brand identity.

Our donors, friends of our nonprofit, stakeholders in our mission…they all need to know about this, too.  But they don’t have the time to get the full experience of what we’re delivering like we do.  They only know us through our stories, through their contact with our clients, what they read about us in the newspaper or online. In our newsletter. In our appeal letter.

It’s our job, as nonprofit insiders, to make sure the outsiders….our target audiences who are out there interested in what we’re up to….to communicate our brand with clarity.  Succinctly.  Passionately.  Connecting us with the Hope we deliver to our clients. Or, our “primary customers.”  Let’s be sure our supporting customers (donors, volunteers, stakeholders of various stripe) hear this message. We don’t want to oversell it.  It doesn’t help our cause if we drive our supporters away through over-communication.

So we keep our messages short and sweet.  We host occasional events at our site to bring our supporters in to see what’s up, and get a taste of the mission.

And we’d like the memory of that taste to be sweet.  To linger. To generate a sense of fondness for our work in our supporting customers.

We know.  But does our Target Audience know?

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Good Marketing > Good Governance

One measure of an effective nonprofit board of directors is the level of comprehension and commitment to strong marketing practice. I know that some members of nonprofit boards scoff at marketing as alchemy and opt for the purity of the program they deliver to their clients. Well, I tell ya. If you don’t understand what makes your client tick, your program may not be worth a bucket of spit. Good marketing, as Peter F Drucker taught and as the Leader to Leader Institute persists in telling us, starts with the customer. And the primary customer is the person who benefits from the service your nonprofit provides. And if we’re not taking the time to check in with our customer/client and gauging the effectiveness of the program we’re providing we’re missing the boat.
Our work, designed to accomplish our mission, has to be based on the market it’s targeting. And the work should represent our brand in the most excellent way possible to shore up our creditibility with our supporting customers: our volunteers, our donors, our stakeholders.
Commitment to that level of quality, based on a clear understanding of what serves our customer best, will provide us with the data that will help make donors take us seriously.
Yes, your nonprofit organization should be mission-driven.
But your nonprofit must be market-sensitive.
One reason why the Harlem Children’s Zone is so effective is because everyone in that organization gets the fundamentals of their market. They built their effective program block-by-block. Harlem Children’s Zone makes it easy for children receiving service to concentrate on the important stuff, because they figured out how to coordinate the array of services needed in a way that receiving service doesn’t get in the way of the focus on education.
Every member of every board of directors needs to be oriented to this kind of thinking. It’s The Results. Know your market, design appropriate response to the needs of your primary customers, and keep refining and improving on that response and the donating public will open your website, see the value, and vote to be a part of it.
And that, my friend, is what separates the effective nonprofit from the run-of-the-mill.

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