Tag Archives: nonprofit communication

Finally! Retaining donors comes first

9 Jan

Donor retention jumps ahead of acquisition as a priority for non-profits, according to the just-released Nonprofit Communications Report 2015. The report, which surveyed more than 1,500 non-profits primarily in the US (a few in Canada and fewer still in the rest of the world) is indicative that non-profits are finally heading in the right direction.

I’m kicked about this enough to consider printing out a placard and carrying it with me on meetings to non-profits in India. Many of the NGOs we talk to see acquisition as the main basket for investment – and communication to retain donors as a soft – and secondary – option. Sure, you need to have donors in the first place to retain them, but I’ve also seen scores of examples of donors coming when you spread the word – and ask. I’d therefore argue that both need to be done simultaneously. The truly visionary ones are those that build their brand, communicate consistently, and ask clearly – till the donors come – and the donors do come.

Going back to the report, the top priorities of the non-profits surveyed were as follows;

  1. Engaging community
  2. Retaining current donors
  3. General brand awareness
  4. Acquiring new donors, and
  5. Thought leadership.

The top four communications channels that non-profits most preferred are website, email marketing, traditional social media and in-person events, in that order. The top three social media sites turned out to be Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Interestingly, the report shows the differences in priorities in the same non-profit between the communications director and the development director. To know what these areas of conflict were, get your copy of the report at http://npmg.us/2015.

A tourist in my own town

17 Jan

ImageIf you write, or if you have a job that involves writing, here’s a book for you. Skimming through my dog-eared copy of Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, I found this old gem: A Tourist in your Own Town.

Goldberg writes: “A writer is a visitor from the Midwest to New York City for the first time, only she never leaves the Midwest; she sees her own town with the eyes of a tourist in New York City. And she begins to see her life this way too.”

And that’s exactly what we do. We are all visitors from Bangalore to Pune (the places don’t matter) – except that we never leave Bangalore. Instead, we look at our work in Bangalore with the eyes of a tourist from Pune – or Amsterdam!

All around us are stories of courage, of drive, of the gumption to do what it takes to make life better. The boy who keeps his pencil sharpened and always in his pocket, because it’s his only pencil and his most prized possession. The girl who reads roadside graffiti and film posters aloud all the way to school because she’s learnt how to read. The woman who puts Rs 10 aside from every bit of money she earns for her kids’ schooling. We see these stories around us every day. But because we see them all the time, we miss seeing the pencil; the sound of the girl’s voice is drowned in the background noise; and the woman’s daily act of dreaming about the future gets lost in the practical business of living.

We wear glasses coated grey with commonplacitis. Goldberg’s book reminds us to take off those glasses, blow a little on them and wipe them clear. Then take another look at the same world around. The commonplace comes alive once again. And that’s the story everyone wants to hear. Most of all your donor.

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