Nonprofit News from 4imprint
What is the most valuable resource you have as a charity? Is it your strong and compelling message? The emotive nature of your cause? Or is it perhaps your marketing budget? Well, all of these are undeniably important, but one factor overrides and influences everything else – and that is people – and how you engage with them, engender goodwill and make the most of their talents and capabilities.

Here are a few ideas on how to tap into this most valuable of resources.

Get people invested in your cause
Telling people about your mission and reason for being is critical in order to both win and maintain support from donors. It is therefore sometimes necessary to share high impact stories, so they feel motivated to help and are fully invested in what you are all about.

ActionAid recently went a step beyond this by connecting beneficiaries who had suffered acid attacks in Bangladesh with supporters. Judith Davey, Director of People, Performance and Accountability at the charity, said this “worked brilliantly” and that they “hope to do more” as it keeps donors connected to the cause.

Treat donors well
Donors are not parting with cash in the same way they would when they are buying groceries. As Stephen Pidgeon, author of How to Love Your Donors (to Death), argues, people who make multiple donations are really saying “I am really interested in your cause.” However, he believes charities often “do nothing about it” even though a donation represents an “expression of their values and identity.”

Charities must do more than take their cash. You must build a lasting relationship with these people, perhaps by encouraging dialogue through social media, implementing a compelling, relevant and targeted content marketing strategy, or rewarding regular supporters with low-cost, high-impact branded items such as cotton bags, trolley coin keyrings or wristbands.

Stick to what works
Marketers often spend so much time looking for new and innovative techniques that they end up overlooking obvious methods that are proven to work. This is a particular bugbear of Barbara Young, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, who said that while the third sector is “far from short of innovative good practice” it has “stayed beached in its birth setting.” Ms Young believes there should be a system to identify and share good practice, as this would improve standards and save money at the same time.

“Persuading an organisation to implement something that it hasn’t invented itself needs to be high on priority lists” she said. “If we put as much effort into improving implementation as we do in searching for the holy grail of innovation, there could be more progress.”

So while a creative angle could be worth pursuing it’s often the case that there’s nothing wrong with sticking to tried and trusted methods, from sending direct mail to giving out badges to those who put money a collection box.

Practise what you preach
For a charity to carry any brand equity, it must show it acts upon its values and means what it says. This means people who work for your organisation should be treated accordingly and in an ethical way. Judith Davey of ActionAid believes this is vital if you wish to keep your workforce inspired and motivated.

Leaders must stay connected
It can sometimes be the case there’s a disconnect between those at the top and those on the ground. Charities can’t afford this state of affairs, so board trustees need to stay fully engaged in the cause.

Jonathan Plumtree, a Trustee at Clic Sargent and Zurich Community Trust, revealed: “Having the right people on a trustee board is very important as that’s where the tone is set for the organisation. While trustees need to be objective, they also need to stay connected with the cause. We encourage trustees to take supporters to ‘seeing is believing’ events, it help trustees connect with the cause and helps with their visibility with staff.”

The key to success lies in getting the most from your employees, volunteers and donors. And this will only happen when you show them they are valuable and you establish and maintain a meaningful relationship with them.

 

Sources / Further Reading
Charity leaders must learn to plagiarise and steal good practice The Guardian
Five ways charities can tap their people power The Guardian