Focus on Your People, People!
If I had a nickel for every "does our organization really need to have a Facebook page?" conversation I had in 2009, I'd have roughly $346.15 (which I'd donate to your organization, of course, if you asked me nicely). In 2010, however, the conversation shifted. Folks begrudgingly set up their nonprofits' Facebook pages, Twitter streams or other social-media tools and started asking, "How do you use this to raise money?" Consultants like me traveled all over the place talking about relationship building, community, storytelling and other feel-good concepts to explain where social media and fundraising connect.
But if you ask me, fundraisers (myself included) have been spending too much time focusing on the tools and too little time thinking about the in-house skills needed to make the most of them. A recent study by the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) showed that the majority of nonprofits don't have online communications or community managers. So this year, I propose we shift the conversation again and start focusing more on the skills fundraisers need to build relationships with donors in today's fast-paced, digital world.
For example, the type of office culture that best supports today's fundraiser encourages transparent, fluid, fast communications between departments. How can you tweet that success story if you don't hear about it until three weeks later and can't confirm the facts easily? Good communications are the backbone of successful fundraising, and everyone at your nonprofit, regardless of job title, must help support your efforts.
Ask these questions at your next staff or managers meeting to get a conversation started about what you need — besides the tools themselves — to make your fundraising efforts successful this year and beyond.
Have we budgeted adequately for the staff we'll need to fundraise online?
Printing used to be a significant budget line item back in the days when your organization produced annual reports and other publications. But as the need to print things has been reduced or even eliminated by websites and e-mails, most organizations have failed to shift that money into the line item for staffing.
Sarah Durham is president of Big Duck, a New York City-based branding, marketing and fundraising firm for nonprofits. She serves on the boards of the National Brain Tumor Society and the New York Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP).