Nonprofit Marketing: Get through this phase, and you will be thriving

Most nonprofits don’t have the influence they want. They don’t have the energy, people and money flowing to them even though they are doing good work. Why is that? Here’s the biggest reason.

Get ready for a truth bomb!

It is not what you do or don’t do, it is that you are not consistent in your efforts.

nonprofit marketing:phases:dersch.jpeg

Let me back up. I have a chart on my office wall. It has the five phases of business development. The phases work for a new business, campaign or any new initiative.

  1. Idea: WOAH! I thought of something new! I am genius! This will be wonderful! Let’s put on a show, we can use my dad’s barn! All the energy of possibility comes forward.

  2. Implement: This is when the idea goes into action, and meets the market. In this phase, you may be doing a lot of work and not getting a lot out of it.

  3. Momentum: Things start to take off. It’s working! It can feel like a roller coaster with lots of ups and downs. Stay grounded.

  4. Stabilization: Now that the system is working, you can tweak and get feedback and improve.

  5. Integration: Now you’ve done it and you can go back and do it all again.

What keeps us from not gaining the influence we need to grow our income and grow our impact?

Getting from Implementation to Momentum.

All that energy and excitement and an idea hits the market and then…..whah whah wha horns….nothing happens. So you assume, well it was my idea that was the problem. Ok, let’s find a new idea, let’s try a new thing.

Clients will say: oh we tried that and it didn’t work.

“Ok, what didn’t work about it?”

“Well, no one responded.”

After a little more investigating it was clear that there wasn’t devotion to the idea. When the payoff wasn’t immediate, then everything stopped. Other stuff got in the way.

New ideas, campaigns, initiatives take intention, focus, time and energy. STAY IN IT… in that part where you are doing a lot and not getting much back. It usually takes more time than you think to catch on. No ones responding to my posts, or reading the blog. Why even bother?

This is an amazing idea, you think. Everyone should do this! I think the same thing. I am absolutely the best at what I do. Why isn’t there a line of people wanting me? Because it takes time.

I am now feeling like I am getting from phase 2 to phase 3.

The reason most of our campaigns or ideas aren’t successful isn’t because they were bad, it is because we quit before they could catch on. A branding coach once told me it takes seven to eight months for a new idea to take hold. So you may have to blog for a while before people read it, or post without much feedback.

One thing I know for sure: if you stop, it won’t work at all.

STAY DEVOTED. STAY CONSISTENT. Here’s how you can do that.

  1. Develop key performance indicators. Decided what daily or weekly activities need to happen for you to reach that fundraising goal or that breakthrough in visibility. Then track those activities each week.

  2. Manage expectations. Keep your leadership grounded in how long it takes to launch something new. Let them stay with you in the devotion phase. Ask for and receive the gift of time to launch something new. It is like a baby…you gotta be born before you can crawl, then walk, then run. If you manage their expectations up front, you can get the time you need to make real change.

  3. Be accountable. If you lead or are on staff in a small shop, find or create circles of accountability outside your place with other ED’s or small shop staff. In a larger organization, you can create them in house. Meet or talk every week or month to make sure you are on track.

  4. Have faith. In phase 2, it takes some faith in what you are doing so you will keep doing it. It can be so tempting to stop because it feels like nothing is taking hold. Keep at it.

  5. Hire a coach. I hold clients accountable for what they want to do. We develop those KPIs together and make sure they are implemented over the long term. I stay with them in that phase 2 so they can hit Momentum.

The biggest block keeping us from thriving is being consistent communicators. This is even more important than what to say: keep saying it. Consistency and repetition is the key to raising your visibility.

Once, I was hosting a discovery session to name a giving society. During the course of this discussion, a participant said that the organization had changed their tagline a year ago and people still weren’t catching on. “Maybe it’s not a good tagline!” someone else said. And then the room suddenly shifted, and the tagline needed changing. I harnessed that discussion by telling them two things.

  1. The tagline is great, give it time to catch on. It has been a year which is so little time, and to make a new one is to start all over again.

  2. If someone doesn’t know the new tagline, that’s not a problem, that’s an opportunity to start a conversation!

Crisis averted. Now, if I wasn’t in the room, well, who knows…there may have been a tagline change.

I see many instances of jumping from one message to another, one outreach method to another. It keeps you in a constant state of phase 2 because you have to get in there and get through that grind in order to see some efforts manifest. Marketing is frustrating because we go from phase 1 to 2 and back, without ever seeing the fruits of our efforts.

Daily devotion to outreach activity is what will raise the visibility of your organization, so you can connect with new donors and raise more money!

Maryanne Dersch