The Nonprofit Sector’s Most Pressing Issues: The C-Level Exec’s Point of View, Part 3
Optimizing communications channels
“For us, direct mail is still our cash cow and has the largest budget,” Aloma said. Food For The Poor distributes 24 direct-mail packages a year, though mails slightly less to donors acquired through other channels. Aloma added, “Print is slowly dying for us, however our best major donors come from print — so we hold on to it because of the quality of donor.”
Tandon added that he doesn’t like to set hard and fast dollar amounts for each channel and strategy, but prefers to keep testing, learning and adjusting communications based on what works. “It’s a constant process. You can’t afford to be left behind,” he said.
McGregor agreed: “Continue monitoring what’s going on, and continue educating the board. You shouldn’t wait until annual budgeting to change things. Invest in things that make sense for your organization.”
“Get a rough idea how revenue should come in,” Harrison added. “It’s very different for every organization, so figure it out for you.”
Someone from the audience asked, “What industry research is missing? What benchmarks would you like to see?”
Aloma said the most valuable insights are about the donors. Food For The Poor did an emotional inquiry study of its best donors — what occurred when they were first exposed to giving, what was the trigger? It provided Food For The Poor the real reasons donors gave, which were financial efficiency combined with spiritual efficiency of the organization, and they wanted to help save lives. These insights helped Food For The Poor communicate those triggers to keep them engaged. “It was invaluable,” Aloma said. “What makes donors happy in giving?”
McGregor said he’s worried that organizations often look at gross income more than anything else. “We can make bad decisions and grow income in the short term. We should look more at costs. I think that’s the biggest thing missing,” he said.