Membership, Marketing, & Communications Alignment

Sales and Marketing Alignment in Nonprofits

Does alignment between your membership, marketing, and communications departments impact your effectiveness? There is much discussion in the for profit community about sales and marketing alignment. In this article, I outline some key points from a white paper which sparked my thoughts here on the importance of alignment as it may apply to the nonprofit community.

The Need for Alignment In Your 

Nonprofit & Association 

“Highly aligned organizations achieved an average of 32% annual revenue growth – while less well-aligned companies reported an average 7% decline in revenue.” Aberdeen

As mentioned, I recently read a white paper produced by bpmonline, a commercial Customer Relationship Management software provider. The white paper is titled “Connecting the Dots Between Marketing, Sales and Service to Nimbly Manage a Complete Customer Journey”.

In short summary, the white paper outlines how a for profit company’s sales and marketing teams often have a complex, sometimes contentious, relationship with one another. On one hand, both sides realize that they need to work together in order to meet their demand and revenue goals. On the other hand, many sales and marketing teams barely speak to one another – never mind working together.

3 Takeaways on Alignment Between Sales and Marketing 

Granted, this argument and suggestions are focused on suggestions for the for profit business world, but as with some situations the message can be applied to the nonprofit community too. Here are my three key takeaways:

  1. Blended processes improve performance – Blending sales, marketing and service into a single process ensures that performance numbers continue to improve. For nonprofits, this means membership renewals, new memberships and similar metrics improve.
  2. Integrating on a single platform is crucial – Integrating sales, marketing, and service creates a better experience for customers. The same should be true of members and donors.
  3. Make better use of current resources – Increase the reach and effectiveness of current marketing efforts by running a unified marketing communications strategy. This is the ideal way to attract and keep members and supporters.

Statistics seem to support the value of investing resources to align marketing, sales and service. Here are a few more statistics which resonated with me most:

  • Businesses with optimal alignment realized 50% more growth in sales-ready leads
  • 33% of organizations cited stated a lower cost for each lead.
  • Businesses with integrated marketing, sales and service were better at keeping customers. In fact, 82% of customers whom thought about leaving but stayed.
  • The same report indicated that 72% of clients made more purchases.

What about Alignment in Nonprofit Organizations? 

Think about this for a moment in terms of the benefits which may apply to your nonprofit but substitute the nomenclature (Ex. Sales professional for membership/development) a bit and focus on the key performance metrics which matter to you most in a 501(c)3 or Association.

  • What if your association could grow your membership by 50%?
  • What if your nonprofit could attract more donors for less marketing spend?
  • What if your association could retain more members due to better alignment?
  • What if your association could improve your non-dues revenue purchases?

Alignment is about one thing: communication. If sales and marketing (again substitute membership for sales) can’t learn how to work together as a single team, speak the same language, and exchange information freely, then all the technology in the world won’t make a difference.

What Should be Considered to Attain Optimal Alignment in Nonprofits? 

How do industry experts suggest that alignment may work in the real world?

  • Personas: As with others, I believe everyone needs to have the same idea on your ideal profile of a donor or member type. This is the first step.
  • Messaging: Everyone needs to be on board with your message. It must be tight, focused, and personalized. You may need to review every touchpoint a constituent has with your organization- across departments and channels, get your teams together, identify them, and write down in chronological order how they move through the join process, event notifications, etc.
  • Metrics: Monitor and measure the important things.
  • Handoff: When does membership or development staff get involved in cultivating a new member or donor. Who is responsible and when? The role for each department needs to be understood and managed.
  • Follow up: I have worked with many marketing, membership, and development officers over the years and it’s amazing to me to find how there is a disconnect on workflow and processes on the simplest things like follow up. When someone joins or donates, what type of follow up is in place to engage them and continually cultivate existing members.

What Technology Should be Considered in Your Nonprofit? 

While the key performance indicators are certainly different in the nonprofit industry, I believe that proper alignment is warranted in a nonprofit too. And, this goal may be realized in some degree by the pursuit of a unified and integrated membership system (CRM software) to assist in keeping everyone on the same page; looking at the same records, history, activities, communications, website activity, & even standardization of the agency messaging.

The mere fact of using the same technology platform, your association may be better prepared to recruit new members, keep current members happy, and retain members. Software tools such as CRM and likely even more importantly Email marketing or Marketing automation software may help establish enterprise wide alignment via a centralized database & unified messaging policy to help bring harmony and inner peace to all. Kumbaya!

If you would like to know more about technologies which may help in achieving better alignment at your nonprofit, please contact us. Until next time, keep SmartThoughts in mind.

Marketing Technology Tips for Alignment in Nonprofits


3 Types of KPIs to Care About in Your 501(c)(3)

3 KPIs for performance management in 501c3 nonprofits

KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for a 501 (c)(3) organizations seem to be the elephant in the room for many Nonprofits. For some executives, they don’t seem to want to talk about them for fear of being construed as a for profit. However, storing information, analyzing your performance, & documenting the success of the organization may be more important for non-profit organizations than it is for profit companies, whose ultimate bottom line is income. In this article, I discuss several key performance indicators I believe you should care about.

3 KPIs a 501 (c)(3) Should Care About

1st, what is a KPI? A key performance indicator (KPIs) is a business metric used to evaluate factors that are crucial to the success of an organization. KPIs differ per organization; business KPIs may be net revenue or a customer loyalty metric, while government might consider unemployment rates.

Regardless of the KPI for your Nonprofit, the documentation of functioning success of a service organization is the key to evaluation and ultimately to success in all important relationships with clients and with funders. In my opinion, the three important type of KPIs (performance measurement) that can be automated in a non-profit organization’s system have to do with the three important aspects of an agency’s core functioning.

  • Impact or outcome statistics: including client numbers, demographics, client before-after status indicators. These KPIs add up to measures of the functional success of the agency.
  • Funding metrics: including the cost-funding balance, donor statistics, donor retention, grant status metrics and other statistics relating to money flow and budgeting.
  • Community status metrics: including referral sources, reputation survey data. and socio-metric positioning data.

While working with nonprofits, I believe if your non-profit organization regularly monitors data in these three domains, you will have the ingredients of excellent evaluation documentation that will serve the purposes of large organizational funders, governments, individual donors and client stakeholders.

To focus all your attention on financial metrics, you will not be justifying the funding you receive by providing solid evidence that your organization has community impact. You will not be justifying your organization’s value.

Impact statistics in a 501 (c)(3)

Your intake information needs to be collected and entered in a system so that intake statistics can be tracked and correlated with client statistics along the service timeline. Status after service is completed needs to be documented so that the impact of whatever service you provide can be clearly documented. Logically, this data collection would come from a unified database.

Funding Metrics in a 501 (c)(3):

Metrics related to cash flow and costs have to be regularly collected for your organization’s accounting process. This data should also be linked to process outcomes as a measure of value per dollar and efficiency. Cost comparisons can also be applied to determining which kinds of services have the greatest impact per dollar of cost. Again, a strong fund accounting system will help in this area too.

Community Status Metrics in Nonprofits:

The position of your organization in the larger community is a factor often ignored in determining the value of a nonprofit organization. Using regular community surveys, keeping track of referral sources, and from client and donor feedback, the importance of your organization in the larger community can be assessed and documented. The degree to which your organization is integrated into the service community, or isolated from it, is of great importance in evaluating success. Survey management tools embedded or integrated into your database can be implemented to assist in this area.

Starting a nonprofit or running one more efficiently requires that you have the right technology in place. In order to help your nonprofit organization measure the key performance metrics you need a database system that captures all the applicable KPI data. But, even more important for your staff is analyzing the data so that you can turn that insight into effectiveness. Then, armed with that knowledge repeat what works well over and over again. Your KPIs matter!

There are hundreds of donor software and fundraising tools which could be the right fit for your nonprofit. We can help you make smarter decisions and select the exact software needed to achieve your mission.

Please contact us to find out more. Until next time, keep SmartThoughts in mind.

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The Best Fundraising Idea of 2016? Retain your donors!

Starting a Nonprofit? You need fundraising software which helps with retention.

What is the best fundraising idea of 2016? Focus on retention! Yep, in the nonprofit sector, donor retention is imperative to the success of current and future fundraising campaigns. In this article, I discuss how fundraising software can be used to enhance your retention prospects at your 501c3 nonprofit.

Review a Donor Database Which Helps Your Retention

Every development officer knows that new donor acquisition and raising money year after year is a costly endeavor. This is why effective donor retention strategies will help your organization boost donor loyalty and engagement, and help to reduce your nonprofit’s marketing expenses at the same time.

Donor retention strategies can be as simple as celebrating your donors’ generosity with frequent communications to foster more meaningful relationships with them, and sharing important instances which demonstrate exactly how their gifts are making a difference in your organization’s work. When donors feel truly valued by your organization, they’re more likely to continue to give to your cause and recruit new donors in the process. What can (should) a fundraising database be able to do to help?

Viewing Donor Trends in Fundraising Software Database 

1st, everyone in the organization must see how your campaigns are working from day to day and month to month. Fundraising Software solutions that compile a database of your donor trends will help you to realize the value of retention as it applies directly to your non-profit organization. Monitoring donor activity over time allows you to track the progress of your organization’s charitable earnings and see where and how your donor retention percentages might increase so you can get the most out of your fundraising campaigns.

For instance, if you can improve your donor retention by just 10%, original donors will remain loyal to your organization for an average of four years longer. This generous time frame allows for potentially larger gifts as well as granting you the opportunity to arrange legacy gifts from your most benevolent donors. While you may have seen a similar statistic with regards to the value of retaining customers in the for profit world, the stat holds up in the nonprofit world too.

Direct Marketing In The Donor Database

2nd, I believe it’s important to be able to communicate better in order to continually delight your donors. Today, you need to have an email marketing solution integrated or better yet one which is robust enough to handle the workload inside the donor database. This alone can help with retaining donors through direct email marketing. It has been proven that ongoing personalized correspondence increases the likelihood of their involvement in your capital campaigns. With higher donor retention, you can shift some of your focus to upgrading those existing donors, as they’re more likely to give greater gifts the longer they remain loyal to your organization.

Peer to Peer Donor Engagement 

3rd, knowing how your constituents are related to one another in terms of their relationships will enhance your capabilities to leverage that into other similar donors. I read a statistic which underscored this fact recently which basically outlined if just one out of every three retained donors manages to entice a new donor either through solicitation or referral, your organization’s donor pool will continue to grow exponentially with each passing year. And, in tandem with the donors that your organization approaches on its own it could be even more impactful. Again, not too far from the idea that testimonials help to bring in more business, donors recruited by existing donors are generally more likely to have a higher retention rate, further expanding the revenue generation for your non-profit organization.

A considerable amount of the data cited here I must say can be attributed to reading and following a lot insights from Jay Love, Founder of Bloomerang. More recently, he recently participated in the 2016 Nonprofit Leaders Network Telesummit, a series of interviews with top fundraising experts conducted by Kirsten Bullock, CFRE, MBA. In his session, Jay explored the current state of donor retention and examined how and why nonprofit leaders should transform their organization’s culture into one of donor-centricity, rather than acquisition. Here is a quote from Jay when asked about what is donor retention and why is this a key leadership issue:

Donor retention is really the foundation for the funding of most nonprofits’ missions because those individuals, some of the research that’s been done, we know that in 2015, 88% of the dollars for the average nonprofit came from 12% of the donors. Most of the time, those are not first-time donors. So, those are donors that have been retained going into more than one year for that.

So, the donor retention is basically how many donors or what percentage of your donors are you able to keep from one year to the next? So, it’s a pretty simple mathematical formula, sort of like a fraction. If, for instance, you had 1,000 donors in 2014 and you were able to retain 550 of those in 2015, then you would have 550 over 1,000 or a 55% donor retention rate, which by the way, compared to the national average, would be considered to be quite stellar.

So, if you are starting a nonprofit or simply need a fundraising idea to help improve your development efforts, find a database which will help with retention.

Just to be clear, we do not sell or support any donor database solutions, but we believe that a fundraising database is absolutely vital to the continued success of your organization, and we can help find the right one for you. I believe you have to appreciate what they can do in order to help those find what they are looking for in a solution.

For more information about the various donor software solutions on the market today, contact us today. Until next time, keep SmartThoughts in mind.

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