how to

nonprofit marketing opportunities
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How To Evaluate Nonprofit Marketing Opportunities

“An opportunity that doesn’t align with your goals is a distraction, no matter how lucrative it is.”

I wrote down that piece of advice for my future self a few years back after I took advantage of a few “opportunities” only to find I was even further from my goals after pursuing them.

I love a good opportunity, but sometimes, in the moment, it’s hard to evaluate how valuable it will be. I’ve found I can’t trust myself to distinguish between an opportunity that will truly move move me closer to my goals and the blind justification that comes with being ecstatic about a new idea.

So how can you keep a level head when you’re about to say YES to a marketing opportunity that could be a game-changer for your nonprofit — but could potentially derail it as well?

Of course, surrounding yourself with wise people helps immensely, but I’ve found that these few questions are great to ask yourself and your team when faced with a new opportunity. Whether you’re starting a new social media strategy, an Adwords campaign, or a strategic partnership, these questions will help you evaluate any marketing opportunity that comes your way.

Who is my target audience for this opportunity?

Before pursuing a marketing opportunity, you should know two things: Who is your exact target audience? And are you using the best channels to reach that particular audience?

Resist the temptation of saying “everybody” is your target audience. Create a customer persona for the audience you’re going after. Look at your past marketing campaigns for any data that might help with the target audience. If you haven’t targeted this audience before, there is absolutely nothing wrong with experimenting. Just be sure to measure and evaluate whether they’re worth pursuing.

Will this opportunity move me closer to my goals?

What are your goals for this marketing project? Make sure you clearly outline what a win looks like for the project and what you’re willing to do to reach those goals. In the days of Don Draper, all clients had to do was approve sketches and new ads. Today, effective marketing takes more involvement and resources from the client.

What resources will it take to execute this opportunity and is this the best place to focus those resources?

If your team is executing this campaign internally, make sure you know what resources will be required. If an outside marketing company is working on the project your team won’t be tied up, so it just depends on what’s best for your situation. Look at the timeline of the project and everything else you have going on and decide whether to keep the project in-house or hire an outside company.

Are there other ways to get more out of your goal?

Now that you have your end goal in mind, how can you get even more out of it? If you look at the pieces of the marketing campaign, you may find you can get even more out of your individual marketing assets.

For example, if your goal is to write 3 e-books to use for educating prospects and building your email list, you have two choices. You could simply write those e-books, or you could use your blog to share excerpts of them and get people interested in the subjects, while also stretching your content much further.

How can we predict the outcome of this opportunity?

Find companies who have done similar marketing campaigns and do your homework. Research what their audience’s reaction was to the campaign, how much of an impact it had, and any mistakes they made that you can avoid. If they aren’t a competitor, it’s even worth giving them a call to ask them directly.

How does this opportunity fit into the rest of my marketing strategy? 

Does it compliment or compete with it? Your new marketing opportunity should complement, and even enhance, your current marketing. It should also fit in with the other stages in your marketing. For example, if you see that most of your marketing falls in the early stage and this is an early-stage opportunity, you may want to hold off until you balance it out with middle and late stage marketing.

Use these questions as a guide to quickly evaluate each new marketing opportunity. Your answers will tell you whether each opportunity that comes along is worth your time and investment.

How To Use The “One Hat Technique” To Stay Focused

one hat technique

When you run a nonprofit, it’s not uncommon to wear a dozen different hats on a single day. You probably find yourself dashing between planning, managing, answering emails, and projects that urgently need your attention.

But there’s a problem that arises when you don’t have clarity in your schedule: the tendency to flip-flop between hats.

In this short video I explain how to eliminate that obscurity, focus on one thing at a time with complete clarity, and move to the next project.

This simple technique from my Time Management Course will help you in the execution part of your time management. When you’re in the thick of it and not sure what to do, I’ve found this has really helped.

How to Stay Focused on Your Nonprofit’s Goals

What did you do last week that moved your nonprofit forward?

I mean something big, something you can truly measure.

It’s funny, but those huge accomplishments usually start with something very small. The difficult part is knowing what to concentrate on and having laser-like focus to get it done.

I’ve found the best way to complete these goals is to measure what I do each week that moves me closer to them. How do I do this? I track my time.

In this post I’ll give you three reasons to start tracking your time, even if just for a week. I’ve also included a video at the end of the post that will make it even easier for you to get started. It shows you exactly how to start tracking your time in just five minutes.

Here are 3 BIG benefits of tracking your time:

1. You Can Set Boundaries for Yourself (And Others)

Tracking your time can help you set beneficial boundaries for yourself and others. By tracking in real time you can start identifying patterns in your day and determine what restraints to put on yourself and others.

Pay attention to interruptions that happen throughout the day and the reasons for them. Could you have prevented some of the interruptions with a quick conversation, outlining when you needed uninterrupted time?

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NBB 30 minutes social media
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How To Manage Your Nonprofit’s Social Media in 30 Minutes a Day

If you groan every time you see social media on your to-do list because the time commitment seems unbearable, this post is for you.

Social media doesn’t need to take up a lot of your time. If you plan your content using a monthly content calendar, you can keep your audience engaged with just a few minutes per day. By spending a little time in between projects to check social networks, you can have them easily under control.

But there’s a catch. (There’s always a catch!)

You’ve gotta have a plan.

Why? Because “checking” Facebook leads to the one thing Facebook is best at: wasting time. Before you know it, the day’s half over and you’ve missed lunch.

Here’s an example schedule for keeping up with your social networks throughout the day. You can schedule your social media at whatever time works best for you. The times next to each one are just meant to demonstrate a sample schedule.

One other thing to keep in mind: this schedule can change depending on what social channel is dominant for you. For example, your nonprofit might be the most active on Facebook and not have a presence on Twitter. So instead of spending 15 minutes on Twitter, I might put the extra time into responding to comments on Facebook and creating new content.

Alter the schedule to fit your situation.

BLOG | 8:00 – 8:04am

  • 4 minutes: Respond to any comments

FACEBOOK | 9:00 – 9:06

  • 3 minutes: Write one status update
  • 3 minutes: Read and respond to any comments on your page from the day before

TWITTER | 10:30 – 10:45

  • 2 minutes: Write one tweet
  • 3 minutes: Read and respond to @replies
  • 3 minutes: Read your tweetstream and keyword searches. Respond to relevant content in your timeline if you have something good to say back.
  • 3 minutes: Retweet something that you think your followers would benefit from hearing
  • 2 minutes: Follow back relevant people who have followed you
  • 2 minutes: Write another tweet to schedule for later

YOUTUBE | 12:05 – 12:10

  • 2 minutes: Respond to any comments on your wall
  • 3 minutes: Comment on someone else’s video

Great! We’ve got the daily content down. Now let’s look at the weekly and monthly plan.  Some things we don’t need to do every day, so we assign them to the beginning or end of the week and month. Here are a few examples to get you started.

Weekly Tactics

  • At the beginning of the week, check that your content is loaded to your blog and/or Youtube and scheduled to be published.
  • Write social media updates for each post to promote them and schedule them in Hootsuite.

Monthly Tactics

  • Create an analytics report for each of your channels.
  • Brainstorm blog topics for next month, and start creating outlines for each post. Set due dates for each one.

Use this list as a starting point to figure out your daily, weekly, and monthly tactics, and take the guesswork out of your nonprofit’s social media!

3 Smart Ways to Grow Your Nonprofit’s Email List

NBB 3 smart ways email listThere’s no question that email has become the primary communication channel for nonprofits. And if that’s true, each of your marketing efforts should lead back to building your email list.

Here are my favorite ways to quickly and effectively build your email list and the reasons why it’s so important.

Why is Growing Your List Important?

If we don’t know why we are building our email list, there’s zero motivation to do it. There needs to be a strategy in place to see results.

Most people don’t understand the real benefits of an email list. They simply see it as a way to send out a monthly newsletter. A newsletter is one benefit, but here are several other reasons for building a quality email list for your nonprofit.

Keep Donors Up-to-Date

Email provides an inexpensive way to keep donors up-to-date. For example, you can create specific email lists for different types of donors, and send them updates based on what type of news interests them.

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How To Free Up Time to Think “Big Picture” for Your Nonprofit

Time managementWhen you work in a nonprofit, you know what it’s like to have a mission that drives you to work harder than you thought possible. It’s incredible what the power of a clear, compelling mission can do.

But it can also be dangerous if you don’t take time to step back and look at the bigger picture.

When was the last time you truly stepped away from your day to day tasks and took time to think about your nonprofit’s big picture? Have you made sure you are headed down the right path?

Proactive vs. Reactive Tasks

“If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.”
-Greg McKeown

It’s easy to do one ‘big picture’ planning session. But doing it consistently is much more difficult.  To think about the big picture consistently, take a step back and look at your day.

Do you know how much of your day is run by you and how much of it is run by others? If more than 50% is reacting to others, it doesn’t matter if you’re the boss, because other people are controlling your day.

This week, take time to record how much time you spend responding to others requests. No matter how important the request is, it’s still reactive time. This includes answering phone calls and emails, people stopping by unexpectedly, requests for help etc. Basically, anything that you didn’t plan for.

Here’s why it’s important: Taking time to think big isn’t just a problem of finding the time. It’s a priority shift.

You will never ‘have’ the time to grow your non-profit if you are always putting other people’s needs -no matter how urgent- ahead of your organization.

A Practical Approach to Planning Your Time

Before you can choose a strategy, you need to believe you can do it, and make it a priority. Planning your time starts with your mindset, before ever choosing the way to go about it.

My advice is to start small –  maybe just 15 or 30 minutes a day or a week. Decide on a time right now. Schedule that in your calendar, and guard it with your life! I like to schedule time at the beginning of the day because I know having that clarity will energize me the rest of the day.

Another helpful thing to do is keep a journal of your thoughts so you know exactly where you left off. But no matter how you go about it, if you don’t schedule the time, it won’t happen. And if you don’t make it a priority, something else will take its place.

Set Yourself Up for Success

It’s tempting to check your email or phone during your 30 minute “thinking big sessions”. But that first buzz or notification could derail all the progress you’ve made so far. Don’t let it!

Instead, do yourself a favor. Turn off your phone and put it in the other room. Turn off your wifi or better yet, close your computer and stick to good ol’ pen and paper to organize your thoughts.

Then you can transfer them onto the computer, if needed.

If you aren’t comfortable with disappearing for 30 minutes during the day, tell the most important people what you’re doing. Let them know that you’ll be doing this every week, at this time, and ask them to help you by making sure you aren’t interrupted.

Take the Challenge

Try taking 30 minutes for yourself just twice this week, to think big picture. Are you up for it? Let me know in the comments!

Guidelines For Writing NBB Blogs

Screen shot 2014-06-17 at 12.19.03 PMWe’ve assembled some great writers and thinkers, like Joel Widmer, Shannon Litton, and Daniel White as our regular contributors, with some great part-time writers and guest-posters as well. As we officially launch this NBB site, I like to make the guidelines and suggestions known for what we’re looking for and trying to accomplish for each blog.

Dear blogger: Here’s what you need to know when writing for NonBoardBoard (NBB)

1) It’s OK to mention Jesus in your post. Most of the focus of NBB is on the business side of running a non profit. However, that shouldn’t make us forget the ‘why’ of what we’re doing.  Some guy 2,000 years ago worked hard to make sandals that helped the disciples walk farther and longer to reach more people with the gospel.  Even though he didn’t have a glamorous job, he was still very important at helping the disciples do what they do better.  The same goes for us.  We share our ‘non-glamorous’ expertise in skills like social media, accounting, efficiency, strategic planning, networking, etc, so that these leaders and their nonprofits can go out and preach the gospel, serve the widows and the orphans, heal the sick, rescue the slaves, and make an impact on the world.

2) It’s OK to mention mistakes in your post.  One of the driving goals of NBB is to remind leaders it’s OK for them not to know everything, and part of that is admitting mistakes.  In the ‘about’ section, I admit one of my mistakes that almost stopped NonBoardBoard before it really got started.  The important thing is that if you do make a mistake, you fix it, you improve, and you go on to make an even bigger impact. Read More

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