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Marketing for Not-for-Profits

In the midst of this recession and tumultuous world events, marketers face the challenging task of selling more products and services to consumers who have lost confidence in spending, as well as money in the ...

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In the midst of this recession and tumultuous world events, marketers face the challenging task of selling more products and services to consumers who have lost confidence in spending, as well as money in the market. During these times, our not-for-profit sector is especially hard hit. Companies who previously didn't hesitate to dig deep into their pockets to help worthwhile causes now have to pause and double-check their budgets. If you are a not-for-profit, how do you recession proof your fundraising?

1) Repeat business.

When raising money for your cause, call on the same people who have helped you in the past. Over the years, you should have made the effort to thank your contributors. Those who gave probably have an emotional connection to your cause and will be more apt to give again - even in tough times. A well-maintained database is the best way to organize your lists and execute your direct mail pieces and solicitation letters.

2) Make personal connections.

Even during a recession, you must keep thinking about where your next contributor will come from. However, now is not the time to spend an exorbitant amount of money on direct mail pieces and glossy brochures. Rather, now is the time to use your time to make new connections. Go to as many networking and community functions as you can. You must meet the person who knows the person who can write you the check. A personal connection is worth more than an untargeted mailing to thousands of names.

3) Save more. Spend less.

Keep your own operating budgets down. Now is the time to get creative with your staff. Recycle your paper. Don't waste anything. And don't ever invest in new stationery or brochures before first investing in a logo and identity campaign. In going forward, all of your materials will be consistent and will not become outdated.

4) Work the web.

Perhaps the cheapest way to spread your message is in cyberspace. It's not enough to invest the time and money in a website; you must invest the creative energy in linking your site to as many companies as possible. Get your name out on the internet so that prospective people and companies looking to invest in your cause will be able to find you as easy as a keystroke or two. Make sure your address and e-mail contact information are posted on the homepage so that you don't frustrate your potential contributors.

5) Publicize more. Advertise less.

Make sure you spend a good chunk of your time in the area of publicity. Get your organization's cause mentioned in articles; write a letter to the editor or an op/ed piece; shoot for a feature article in some of the not-for-profit columns of various publications. Why spend the money on advertising, when you have the ability to get your not-for-profit mentioned for the cost of some creative hard work? Over a period of time, you will build your organization's reputation, and that will help you build your organization's income.

Good luck!