Talented fundraisers understand their nonprofit organization is a business and they work in the Sales Department, the department that generates revenues. But unless fundraisers are associated with big-name nonprofits (meaning they have large staffs and budgets dedicated to fundraising and to marketing), they are probably trying to market themselves on a shoestring or non-existent budget.
So we had to get creative and market our organizations like the big guys but with our less-than-ample marketing budgets. And what we’ve learned along the way can help small business owners as well.
Meeting a Need
There are thousands of nonprofit organizations throughout the United States, and & new ones are created every single day. To get noticed (and to find adequate funding), nonprofits have to be unique. They have to meet a need that is not currently being met.
As a small business owner, meeting a need that is not currently being met or meeting the need in a unique way differentiates you from the competition. Marketing becomes much simpler (and sales much higher) when you narrow your niche and meet a need that’s currently underserved.
Another fundraiser takeaway for small businesses is: follow your passion and let the excitement you feel about your business come through loud and clear in all your customer communications.
Successful nonprofit fundraising is based on building relationships with donors and prospective donors. Fundraisers know how to engage their donors, make them a part of the organization and part of the solution. Small business owners who create personalized relationships with their customers know the benefits of doing so: greater profits.
Building personalized relationships is probably the nonprofit sector’s greatest tool and what we’re best at. Talented fundraisers know the database is at the center of these marketing and fundraising efforts and the only way to build and sustain relationships with all their stakeholders.
Collecting data (who they are, what attracted them to the cause, interests, what’s important to them, and the amount of donations received) from our donors helps fundraisers define and segment our target markets for optimal fundraising success. Storing and managing the data allows talented fundraisers to stay on top of what their constituents want and expect.
Relationship or database marketing using a well-organized, up-to-date database helps small business owners build stronger, more durable and successful businesses in the same manner.
No-Cost (but Highly Effective) Public Relations
Talented fundraisers know how to take advantage of low-cost and no-cost services that help them spread the word about their programs and services. A colleague just shared with me her no-cost method of public relations that works equally well for nonprofits and for small businesses.
My colleague recommended two free online services …
… where you can register as an expert in your field or business niche. Reporters from major news agencies worldwide access the lists of “experts” to obtain a quote or information from a qualified source.
My colleague used HelpAReporter.com to get herself quoted in The Huffington Post, a major magazine, and a regional magazine that sent photographers and reporters for a five-hour photo shoot and interview.
This type of publicity is priceless, and it didn’t cost her a cent.
Like startup and small nonprofit organizations, small business owners may not have enough staff members to help with all the tasks that need to be accomplished. Talented fundraisers automate as much of the work as they can, and small business owners should, too.
There’s only so many hours in the day, which is why more and more nonprofit organizations with few or no staff members are partnering with virtual assistants who can take over administrative, marketing and fundraising tasks … or work on an as-needed basis. More and more business owners are realizing the benefits of virtual assistants. They’re finding it’s more profitable to relegate tasks they simply don’t have the time to accomplish or don’t have the specialized skills to complete.
A reliable source to find qualified virtual assistants is the International Virtual Assistants Association.
Another efficient use of automated technology small business owners can borrow from their nonprofit counterparts is: email newsletter distribution. All you do is write the newsletters, provide the email addresses, and the automatic distribution programs make certain your e-newsletters get delivered to your donors (or customers) at specific times on specified dates.
The ultimate automated workhorses are the digital communication channels, of course. Talented fundraisers know they have to digitally meet their constituents where they are. That means we have to market our brand through a website, social media sites like Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter, as well as maintain a presence on mobile apps like Instagram.
Small business owners benefit just as much by digitally meeting their customers where they hang out, and all the other efforts talented fundraisers employ to keep costs down while effectively and successfully marketing their causes.