Work Smarter, Not Harder for Nonprofitsa
NEED A LESSON in stretching a dollar? Look no further than the nonprofit sector. Because these organizations rely so heavily on the kindness of strangers, each has become adept at making ends meet, not to mention, moving the world with precious few hands on deck.
Despite meager budgets and a lack of
manpower, however, many nonprofits are
seeking outside help to properly position their efforts. According to Daniel Welborne, vice
president, promotional products for Dayton, Ohio-based WorkflowOne, “I will say nonprofits have learned marketing plays a critical role in promoting awareness and generating financial
support for their cause.” For a sector with such inherent financial resourcefulness, promotional
products often can achieve big returns—the items pack a double punch as both thank-you gifts for
benefactors, as well as branded merchandise that can be sold for profit. To get every penny’s worth for a
fundraising promotion, read on for seven tips for
more effective partnerships.
1) Make it meaningful. Philanthropy is a deeply personal thing. Though saving money is
important, high-perceived value is essential when thanking patrons or appealing for donations, noted Rose Shorma, vice president of marketing at American Solutions for Business, Glenwood, Minn. She reported a blood-bank promotion that used a keychain with four seasonal medallions to promote donor retention. “Every time [they] came back to donate blood, a medallion was added … It enticed people to donate blood four times a year, to complete the beautiful keychain,” she said.
2) Consider working in pairs. “Sometimes one needs to ask if a promotional product alone is truly the right marketing vehicle to meet the fundraiser’s goals,” affirmed Welborne. Though the product might be powerful enough on its own, perhaps it could go even further when coupled with a direct-mail campaign, he suggested. “A small amount of extra effort can make a huge
difference in results.”
3) Strike a balance. For nonprofits looking to make the most of a chosen promotion, using dual-function items typically is the best way to go. “Promotional products that … [are] useful and [become] part of the recipient’s daily life over time are most effective,” Welborne said. He cited examples such as pens, coffee mugs or commuter cups as those which can provide continuous brand reinforcement over a long period of time.
4) Control expenses. Cutting corners where applicable (and where it won’t hurt the campaign as a whole), means more than simple business savvy when working with a nonprofit. “With The Smile Train, as with all of WorkflowOne’s nonprofit and charitable clients, every dollar they save on their brand-related spend[ing] is a dollar that can be directed back to their cause,” said Welborne. In WorkflowOne’s case, these savings were used to provide cleft-palate surgery to approximately 6,400 children in developing countries.
To that end, Shorma advised, nonprofits should shy away from giving expensive items. She also offered a potential solution for stretching funds: “If you can get banks or ‘big business’ to
co-brand with a nonprofit and pay for all or part of a
product, that helps.”
5) Move online. Both WorkflowOne and American Solutions for Business are moving to the Web to help their fundraising clients. It is an efficient way to keep track of things such as color and sizing for apparel promotions, said Shorma.
WorkflowOne developed an e-commerce site for the American Cancer Society of New York and New Jersey called The Hope Shop, said Welborne. “The site’s products include T-shirts, bracelets, journals, candles and more. All are branded to support one of four different cancer causes, a
concept that allows shoppers to select
merchandise that supports their interests or those of the person who will receive their gift,” he added.
6) Know that branding matters. “Fundraising exists in a fiercely competitive playing field, with many organizations reaching for the same limited bucket of funds,” Welborne said. “Having a memorable brand with a high degree of awareness is critical to the fundraiser’s success.” Since branding is pretty much the name of the game when it comes to promotional products, it only seems natural that these items are especially effective within the sector, particularly for donor
recognition initiatives (see tip seven).
7) Up the ante whenever possible. Shorma
discussed a “donating with pride” campaign she worked on for United Way in which a thermal mug was printed with “I proudly support the United Way.” While this type of messaging goes a long way to get a nonprofit’s mission in the public eye, this particular gift program went the extra mile. Not only were prospects given the opportunity to personalize their gift with a dry marker, but the United Way gave away a free mug to first-time donors and anyone who increased his or her donation by $10, Shorma explained. This tactic was implemented at a local company, where, “So many people were getting mugs, writing their names and decorating them with the markers, that everyone wanted one,” she said. “That [extra] $10 times 200 people, brought in $2,000 more dollars, just in that one business,” Shorma affirmed.