Sendero’s “Community Rocks” Program provides pro-bono management consulting work to non-profit organizations. These projects are heavily specialized to each organization’s unique needs. One of our many Community Rock Success Stories is highlighted below.
The unique challenges presented by the unprecedented events of 2020 have necessitated a significant shift for many companies—both for-profit and non-profit.
Over the past several months, Sendero has partnered with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta (BGCMA) to research and deliver recommendations to amp up their fundraising practices for a robust and actionable strategic plan that will help them navigate fundraising challenges this year, and beyond.
As part of the project, Sendero conducted interviews, surveys, and benchmarking research with similar non-profits to determine the Resource Development (RD) activities that are working best across the industry. What transpired were a multitude of fantastic conversations that provided a unique glimpse into the world of successful non-profit fundraising.
Here are the seven actionable steps gleaned from these interviews that any non-profit can deploy to enhance their fundraising activities, and to position their RD teams for success—even in challenging times.
1. IDENTIFY YOUR STORY
While this point may feel like a given, identifying stories is a crucial step in communicating effectively.
First, identify your target audience and determine the key message you want to share. Do not be surprised if you identify multiple audiences, and thus develop multiple stories—you are likely not going to share the same information with the community utilizing your services as you would with donors supporting them financially. This could even go as deep as defining stories to be communicated to each tier of donors, depending on the level of sophistication of the organization and the extent of its donor base.
Scenario: Consider a non-profit that delivers healthy meals to families in need. They already have a compelling story that makes an emotional tie with the families utilizing their services, highlighting that they provide dependable, healthy meals.
But the organization needs to tweak this story to fit different audiences. Take donors–they want to know why their involvement is needed, and how it can change outcomes. In this scenario, the goal is not merely to deliver meals, it is to provide nutrition and stability to improve health, education, and help break the cycle of poverty.
Whatever the message, it is essential and foundational to have it clearly defined and understood across the organization.
2. COMMUNICATE YOUR STORY
When an organization has identified and conceptualized its story, it is time to share it. This is a foundational step in ensuring a non-profit is able to reach as many individuals as possible. After all, what good is having a story if no one knows about it? When communicating the story, the team should consider the following questions:
– What audience(s) are we trying to reach?
– What platforms are my audience(s) actively engaging with already?
– What is the cost that we are willing to incur to share our stories?
– How can we package our stories to make them engaging and compelling?
– Who will communicate our story?
– When should we communicate our story?
Answering these foundational questions will help to identify how, when, and where you can most effectively reach your audience. Many organizations are finding success with the following platforms:
– Short, easily digestible videos featuring individuals impacted by the organization
– Handwritten notes to donors from individuals impacted by the organization
– In-person contact (events, office visits, site visits, etc.)
– Partnering with like-minded community groups, events, and newsletters
– Engaging with schools when appropriate (both K-12 and universities or trade schools)
– Direct mailers
– Email marketing
– Social media
Many respondents reported success with shifting towards digital story telling. A Development Officer from Atlanta summarized it best: “Our digital programming has been great. We are realizing that people are watching short clips over engaging with long text and pictures.”
Tip: Digital story telling does not have to be difficult. There are a wide variety of free and inexpensive tools available. Focus first on creating great content that delivers the story in an impactful way.