Ready to ‘Go International’?
‘Think local, act global” is an interesting opportunity. If you’re successful and you know your business well within your own market, why not consider reaching into new markets?
Charities based in developed markets are finding it increasingly difficult to grow at reasonable rates, and the cost of acquiring each new donor can only continue to rise. We all know that in domestic markets the keys to future success are well-defined and well-resourced donor development and stewardship programmes; we also appreciate that the future is “donor share” not “market share.”
The starting point in our thinking has to be to ask: Why? Perhaps it fits your cause, vision or mission, and by going international you can reach new heights; you could simply have a basic need to expand your operations and build on your success; your domestic market is saturated, and you need to find new, more cost-effective routes to fund programmes; or any number of other reasons that you need to discuss and identify. Several U.S. charities “went international” a few years ago with the sole objective of fundraising. While at the time this met with some success, the general view nowadays is that you need to have a wider set of objectives that link to your vision and brand, and that you should not simply view a market as a cash source.
The world really does offer vast new opportunities for not-for-profit organisations, but instant communications across borders mean that a well thought-out, consistent strategy is a key starting point that defines what you are trying to achieve.
At this stage, you also should consider competitors and room in the market for your cause area, set of solutions and particular approach.
Are you really ready?
Next is a careful consideration of internal readiness. I would start by asking if there are easier options at home to achieve your objectives. In other words, have you really “maxed out,” and is your market really full in relation to your cause and fundraising approach? This article is about the excitement of going international; however, never believe that this is an easy option. Do you have a successful domestic portfolio of techniques from which to build? Moving into new markets is about leveraging your skills, propositions and brand, so you need to build from strong foundations.