Thursday, June 25 Gardner & Associates conducted an interactive workshop with tenants of the Jones Shop. Roughly a third of the JTL Shop tenants attended.
Paul Gardner encouraged NPO staffers and leaders to check out the Journal of Philanthropy. It is available in most libraries or online at www.philanthropy.com.
The June 18 Journal projected that NPO recovery from the economic downturn will lag behind consumer spending by at least 15 months. The Journal predicts that NPOs will not see a return to improved giving until at least 2012. The bad news in the Journal is that social service NPOs, like most of those present, are the hardest hit by this recession. They report losing an average of 15.9% of their 2008 giving. The decline is a double-edged sword with both individuals and foundations drawing back on their support because of declining earnings.
1. Improve your mailing list by removing duplicates and using the National Change of Address Directory. That directory updates USPS address data. Both actions can save postage and increase mail delivery efficiency.
2. Save the cost of a bulk mail permit, get the $.27 bulk mailing stamp and get professional help by using a mail house to combine your mailing with other NPOs for increased economy.
3. Consider augmenting your database by purchasing names and addresses of donors with similar interests. Your mail house can help augment your list.
4. Do the whole job at a mail house – compose, print, sort and mail to increase staff efficiency and product quality; while reducing cost and staff time.
Jeannette Balleza of Scribe Marketing outlined strategies to increase the efficiency of websites and e-communications. She emphasized the importance of social networking and digital newsletters as twin means to increase efficiency while reducing cost. Jeannette outlined four strategies:
1. Use www.pitchengine.com as the vehicle to distribute press releases and calendar events and key deadlines announcements.
2. Work diligently on keeping your email database current. Check it before each email blast. Consider purchasing available email databases (much like mailing databases) to augment your list. If these prospects do not want your enewsletter, they will unsubscribe. Otherwise you gained a new friend.
3. Match your communications strategy with your tools. Do not use digital communications if it is inconsistent with donor interests and NPO strategy.
4. Keep your web page current and attractive. Make it readable, easy to navigate and relevant to your mission and message. A busy or stagnant web homepages quickly loses readers.
Brad Lawless of HomeWatch Caregivers described why he launched his three-month-old www.nwacares.com blog. He wanted to find a way for NWA NPOs to share information, collaborate on issues and gain the advantage of “viral marketing.” Brad suggested four strategies:
1. Consider collaborative publishing. Several related NPOs can combine their messages into a single biweekly enewsletter to keep information fresh and current. Short articles with links to participating NPO websites can increase viewership and response. By combining individual email lists, removing duplicates, NPOs can increase enewsletter effectiveness and efficiency.
2. Twitter and Facebook enable a busy NPO staffer to share information and pictures “on the run”. As you continue to publish in real-time, you gain “followers.” Followers can “retweet” your message and expand your sphere of influence. That is the essence of social networking.
3. Interactive communications through social networking increases public awareness of the mission and message of your NPO. Volunteers can help with enewsletters, blogs and Twitter. Increasing the number of individuals sharing your NPO message broadens your communications footprint.
4. “Crowdsourcing” is a recent hot concept that engages supporters or volunteers to become advocates for your NPO – another way to broaden your base of support.
NPOs are currently going through a significant transition in communication from hard copy or printed materials to social communications featuring digital and video pieces. In this transition communications vehicles can only change consistent with your donor or member comfort level. The best way to check your member’s pulse is to give them a choice to subscribe to an enewsletter or encourage prospects to visit your web page. If they like what they see they will take your invitation to subscribe to your enewsletter or to donate – provided you have a prominent navigation button for Subscribe and Donate. Check out your web page…does it invite further investigation.
G&A recommends that NPOs add www.nwacares.com to your favorites list and check it often. It is a valuable information source. Become a NWA Cares contributor when you have information, a call to action or an event to share, contact Brad and he will add your message to his blog.
Paul and Walt have a special thanks to Amy, Jeannette and Brad for making our first NWA workshop an interesting, personal and interactive event.
If you missed this workshop, check out the Arkansas Support Network August 13 Surviving Tough Economic Times at the new Nonprofit Center at St. Mary’s. Contact Syard Evans firstname.lastname@example.org or 479.756.4194. Registration is $65 before July 24. That includes lunch. Walt, Paul and the team will be the keynote speakers right after lunch. We will have new and even better material.