Sacred Cows: Battling Ourselves
On the fundraising side of the house, a budget year doesn’t go by without some kind of measurement of efficiency via cost per dollar raised or some other type of ROI. But on the mission side, organizations sometimes just keep doing programs because that’s what they’ve always done. These can become very emotional discussions internally. If you get a good chief financial officer involved, the conversation will even include discussions about whether the money could be spent on a different mission-based program and have greater impact on the intended audience or the mission of the organization.
Staff sometimes confuses the tenure of a program with the value to the brand. In other words, someone thinks the organization has become known for the program, and therefore if the program goes away it will hurt the organization. The first part of the excuse may be true, but the second part may or may not be. But, hands down, a regular review of the programs an organization delivers is critical to ensure consumers can trust it to spend money the right way. Efficacy processes are used by some organizations but not all.
If we assume that most organizations would love to “go out of business” because that would mean they have succeeded in reaching their mission goals, then every organization needs to make sure its programs are not just about how long they’ve been in existence but whether they are really making a difference in an ever-changing environment.
Similar to programs, some communications can become sacred cows within an organization and end up being ineffective and/or expense drags on the budget. Newsletters and magazines are the most common forms of sacred cows, and boy oh boy, do they sometimes need to be put to rest. I’m not saying all newsletters and magazines are bad — but I am saying if there has not been some type of review of consumer benefit in the recent past, that’s an expense where the value is unknown.
Vice President, Strategy & Development
Eleventy Marketing Group
Angie is ridiculously passionate about EVERYTHING she’s involved in — including the future and success of our nonprofit industry.
Angie is a senior exec with 25 years of experience in direct and relationship marketing. She is a C-suite consultant with experience over the years at both nonprofits and agencies. She currently leads strategy and development for marketing intelligence agency Eleventy Marketing Group. Previously she has worked at the innovative startup DonorVoice and as general manager of Merkle’s Nonprofit Group, as well as serving as that firm’s CRM officer charged with driving change within the industry. She also spent more 14 years leading the marketing, fundraising and CRM areas for two nationwide charities, The Arthritis Foundation and the American Cancer Society. Angie is a thought leader in the industry and is frequent speaker at events, and author of articles and whitepapers on the nonprofit industry. She also has received recognition for innovation and influence over the years.