Succeeding in a non-profit organization in this day and time requires unique strategies. Technology is advancing at ever-increasing speeds and challenges even the best organizations on every level. The world has seemingly gone completely digital with Millennials now using smartphones for everything they do.
A recent survey showed that only one-fifth of all Millennials have ever written a check. And yet, checks are the most popular way that people have given to charities in the past. Today’s consumers rely on electronic payment methods such as Paypal, Venmo and Apple Pay. This applies to their charitable giving as well. While Baby Boomers and Gen X are still largely using an organization’s website for their giving, the new generation of consumers uses their mobile phones.
People enjoy supporting a good cause
Surveys also show that Millennials are conscientious about charities. They have a deep abiding desire to help make the world a better place and they’re willing to give their time and money to make this happen. The best solution is to make it as quick and easy as possible. More and more charitable organizations are learning this lesson. Going mobile and digital provides you with unique ways to make the giving as painless as possible. Large organizations like the Red Cross, give you the ability to donate by texting an amount of money to a 5-digit number. It’s just that easy. There’s nothing to fill out. No credit card information to worry about.
In a highly digitalized world where new inventions amaze and amuse us all, nonprofits face a more critical challenge than others when it comes to fund-raising. In the past, non-profits have been seen as entities that were slow to accept change. Some charities continue to do business the way they always have. This has prevented them from maintaining proper relevance in our world. In order to influence social change, non-profits must stay ahead of the curve.
Dealing with a tight budget
If nothing else gets the attention of these older, less-flexible non-profits, their tight budgets will. Effective fundraising is all about appealing to today’s savvy consumer. It’s about getting their attention with a message that speaks to the heart.
On the journey to change the world, a non-profit must increase their revenue while continually managing their resources wisely. People don’t give to organizations who waste resources and ignore their relationship with constituents. Most charitable givers want to support organizations that strive to make every dollar count. Below are a few additional tips for today’s non-profit organization.
Tell a compelling story
Most charities do have a good story about how they began. Perhaps the Director went through a rough time and was homeless for a period. Now he or she is helping other homeless people turn their lives around. Many times, when people go through a really rough time in their lives, they want to somehow make things better for others who will travel the same road. Take the time and spend the money to hire a professional writer to flesh out this story so that it’s compelling and heartfelt. Sharing your story with others is a way to endear people. It’s an excellent method of moving from a distance right into someone’s true lifestyle.
Improve constituent relationships
Stay in constant contact with your givers. Be sure to make those communications as interactive as possible. Send regular updates about how your organization is doing or current projects you’re involved in. Don’t let your only contact with the public be all about donations. Make people feel like they are part of something dynamic, something that matters. It may be a good idea to have a team that focuses only on relationships with donors.
Some organizations purposely stay out of politics, religion, etc. Though it’s difficult to walk that tightrope between staying relevant and remaining neutral, this is important for most people today. If there are earth-shaking events going on around the world, find a way to talk about these things in your monthly newsletter without being preachy. Many times, global disasters and political unrest can be a time to connect with your core base and see how they feel about these events. It can be a time to create stronger bonds with supporters if handled correctly.
Make it easy for supporters to give time and money
Make donating as flexible as possible. Meet people exactly where they are in their lives. An older person may want to mail a check, while a teenager will want to use a mobile wallet. Middle-aged people still pay bills, donate to charities and conduct other business online. They trust the internet and have become comfortable with surfing the web. Regardless of where someone is in terms of their technology level, meet them there where they feel safe.
Understand the demographics of givers
Demographics are an important tool used by marketing agencies. Specific data about consumers is collected and broken down so that it reveals personal information about customers. For instance, if you’re selling sports cars, you’ll want to reach a younger group of people with lots of expendable income. Paint a picture of exactly who your primary customer is. Someone looking for an expensive sports car might be a male 20-35 years old whose income is over $200k per year. Just the same way marketing agencies need this information about potential buyers, a charitable organization does as well. When you know your supporters personally, you can connect with them on a more human level. That’s when your organization will finally achieve its mission statement and goals. This is also where organizations begin to make the most difference in the world.
With the world changing so rapidly, it’s no wonder that technological advancements sometimes astound us. A non-profit cannot be seen as inflexible and antiquated if they want to compete. Though their values should always remain old-fashioned, the way they operate must be on a level with a Fortune 500 company. An organization must stay up to date on our evolving society. Attitudes change and they can do so quickly with the great flux of information coming at us each day. Stay in tune with these events and you’ll stay connected with a group of donors who are excited about supporting your cause.
Brian Gray, MCP, is the President at Kraft Technology Group, LLC (KTG), an affiliate of KraftCPAs PLLC. Within his role, Brian is responsible for all aspects of service delivery to our clients. Brian has a decade of experience working for managed service providers. He has worked with clients in a variety of industries, including financial services, accounting, legal, healthcare, manufacturing, and retail.