The last few years have seen a massive boom in new nonprofits in the U.S., meaning the competition for dollars and donors is stronger now than it has ever been. Even charities that have long been household names over the past decades must learn to adjust to an ever-changing nonprofit fundraising landscape.
One non-negotiable for succeeding in the nonprofit space? Nonprofits today must become or stay relevant to this new generation as well as older generations of charitable givers.
Here are 5 ways to make that happen.
1. Know your story.
In the age of the 8-second message, it is critical that nonprofits be able to tell their story in a single sentence. Further, each member of the nonprofit team should be able to tell the story succinctly.
Why? If the nonprofit struggles to communicate its story in a simple and succinct way internally, so it will struggle to do so externally. And today’s donor wants simplicity. Mantra: Simple message. Simple tools. Simple giving.
2. Expand your story.
Successful nonprofits today are looking for ways to expand their mission. Nonprofits that are crushing their goals are doing so by creating innovative ways to meet the needs of their audience.
Note: Innovation isn’t synonymous with creating something completely new or original. Innovation is simply creating something new or original for a specific community.
Find an innovative strategy by answering this question: What needs are currently going unmet in the community you are trying to reach? (Not currently in your wheelhouse? Maybe it should be.)
3. Tell your story.
Simply put, advertising the right way —and advertising in the right places — is paramount. As it applies to social media, a nonprofit says as much about itself by what platforms it operates on as it does by the story it is trying to tell.
Nonprofits seeking to reach a younger audience, for instance, should consider the benefits of Instagram, podcasts, Snapchat, and Twitter. Nonprofits seeking to reach an older audience should consider the strength of a good website with clear navigation and helpful tools.
4. Fund your story.
While money isn’t the mission, nonprofit fundraising is necessary for survival. And just as it is paramount that nonprofits maintain relevant messaging, they also need relevant fundraising tools and techniques. Specifically, understanding generational-driven giving behaviors is critical.
Pledge cards and slow-loading websites can be the kiss of death to a nonprofit that wants to connect with younger app-driven donors. So, too, neglecting personal contact can be the end of reaching older donors. Better engagement with supporters of all ages will always boost a nonprofit’s effectiveness.
5. Thank your supporters.
True, this final point is the “one that doesn’t fit,” but it is one that is fast becoming the golden ticket of nonprofit success. Donors don’t want to be communicated with only when money is needed. Who wants to be treated like an ATM? Share successes.
Host a gratitude campaign. Show the supporter how important his or her contribution (of time, money, prayer, etc.) is to the mission. If the supporter believes he or she is integral to the nonprofit’s success, he or she will likely stay longer and do more to be part of its future success. Sharing stories and communicating gratitude — without asking for a dime — can be vastly beneficial to donor retention.
Bottom line: Relevance is a matter of survival. As such, nonprofits must continually adapt to the radically changing world. Not only is it possible, it may be easier than you think.