It's well into the middle of the month of December, and things have gone really well. You're in the midst of your most successful campaign ever, and this year you've grown your constituency by two fold. Engagement on your website and social media is at an all-time high, and amazingly you've managed to keep your operating budget relatively flat in the process. Meanwhile, you've exceeded your fundraising goals by over 20% this year already, your board is ecstatic, and you have other nonprofit leaders asking you what your secret is.
Sound too good to be true? If so ... keep reading.
The truth is, after three years running the Nonprofits Program for HubSpot, I've met only a handful of leaders each month that can actually read that statement above and say "Yeah -- that about sums it up." Those nonprofits are also the ones winning the lion's share of the total donations made across the U.S. The one thing they all have in common is that they have adopted an inbound marketing strategy for fundraising.
During that same month, I'll also consult with 50-60 nonprofit leaders who are having a hard time. These leaders are struggling to learn, adapt, and execute on a strategy that is in line with the way that today's donors and advocates research, engage, and ultimately support organizations.
Why? While the rest of the world has shifted online, the nonprofit industry has lagged behind. Adoption of new technology is slow, but the world won't wait. Your donors no longer have a home phone line. They barely open mail delivered to their door. And, they skip through commercials. They have gotten really good at blocking out the noise. Your donors live digitally today, and they now decide what, where, and when they will consume information.
Your Donors Are Now in Control
Since your constituents are harder to reach than ever, the "fundraising pyramid" has changed, too. The top of your fundraising pyramid is made up of a small group of older, rich supporters who, while important, will not be able to support your foundation ten years from now. While it will always be important to maintain your relationships with this group, you must also be actively focused on growing the bottom of your pyramid. This group will consist of Millennial (ages 20-35) and Gen-X (ages 35-50) donors. If you can successfully form relationships with these groups today, you are securing the future for your organization for decades to come.
To successfully reach and engage with this new donor base, you must match the way you build awareness with the way donors, volunteers, and members can connect with you. Inbound marketing helps you connect with your future donors through your website, blog, social media, and personalized email marketing. The added benefit of shifting to an inbound way of thinking is that you will also become more efficient, since attracting new donors organically through these channels is much cheaper than traditional methods.
If you've been struggling to reach and engage with this new donor base, don't worry -- you have recourse. First, know that there are a few things you can do in 2014 that will help you get in touch with donors on their terms (which I'll outline below.) But we've also launched a program here to help support you in that mission, called Nonprofit Advantage. If you find any of this a little out of reach for your nonprofit, it's there to lend a helping hand.
Now, here are three things you can do in 2014 to get your organization closer to the situation I described at the beginning of this post:
1) Start blogging.
Creating relevant content is the single most important thing you can do to attract new donors online. Make a goal to create one blog post per month, or even one per week if you can. Nonprofits are already content-rich by nature -- think of all the stories you have to tell and then turn those stories into blog articles on your website. These stories can easily be shared across social media, which will help you grow your audience and bring new constituents back to your website. Don't have enough staff? We can help!
Place some content behind forms on your website that new visitors can access by giving over their contact information. Once you have their information, you can connect and engage with them before they're ready to make a donation. By making it easy for new visitors to build relationships with your organization before they are ready to donate, you will create a solid base of future donations that can be made on your donors' timelines. If you need our help with creating the content behind those forms, learn more about the HubSpot Nonprofit Advantage program.
Some folks will be ready to make a gift to you today -- but many aren't sure yet. By personalizing your engagement with these constituents, you'll build relationships that foster trust and commitment. Not only will many of these folks give to you after a period of nurturing, they will be more likely to become inspired advocates for your cause, in turn, becoming fundraisers themselves. (HubSpot's Nonprofit Advantage team can help you with nurturing, too. Learn more about how we help.)
2014 Is Your Year
December is always a great time for taking stock of what you've done well, and where there's room for improvement. As I am constantly inspired by the important work that each of you does at your organizations, I hope I've added a little inspiration for you. As you focus in on what you'll do differently for your organization in 2014, I challenge each of you to think big, be bold, and embrace change. Join the ranks of nonprofits who are crushing their goals, delivering on their missions, and keeping the bar high for the industry.