How board members can play a role in resource mobilization

Board members are the core drivers of an organization. They set the direction of the organization for years to come. They constitute the board, a collective body that governs the non-profit, guide the organization to work towards its mission and vision. Despite their importance in functioning of the organization, most of the board members do not actively play role in resource mobilization. Though it is not mandated as their ‘role and responsibility’ in the non-profit, the board can definitely take a step ahead to catalyze the growth of the organization without ‘asking for money’.

Group of Business People Meeting

Active involvement of the board can definitely fuel the growth, more importantly so in the case of smaller NGOs. Here are a few ideas how they may play crucial role in resource mobilization, to bring in resources to fuel the functioning of the organization, bringing a sense of responsibility towards it, and utilizing their skills, expertise, experience and goodwill to benefit the organization in the long run:

  • Advocacy

Ask them to advocate with government for your organization or cause. For example, if you are an organization working for children, you may have someone on your board who is an educationist, academician, bureaucrat, or government official. You can request him/ her to advocate for your cause with the government. He/ she may even help you in getting government schemes and projects.

  • Involving donors

The board members are very passionate towards the cause of the organization. They devote their time to actively participate in the planning, and activities too. This alone can set a very good example to motivate the donors. Thus, you may ask your board to motivate donors, or you may display their stories on your website.

  • Negotiations

The board members may contribute indirectly towards the financials, by negotiating with suppliers or vendors to supply goods or services for lower prices. Their good will and connections can help your organization in this way.

  • Diverse expertise

Your board might have highly knowledgeable people from diverse fields and backgrounds. You may ask them for support related to their domain. For example, an organization who has a lawyer in the board, can ask for legal advice from him/ her. This will help the organization gain from the learned and experienced law professional, while also saving cost if help was to be sought from elsewhere.

In this way, your board can kick start some of your resource mobilization efforts, and also can help with diverse and useful knowledge and domain expertise. 

  • Employing a donor appreciation program

For organizations which embed donor acquisition and retention strategies into their overall goals and strategy, donor recognition and appreciation are one of the very important ways to achieve long term results. And with internet, crowd-funding platforms, social media and online platforms, these strategies and programs are very easy to implement. So, involve your social media/ communications team along with your core team to employ your donor appreciation program.

  • Why a donor appreciation program

We know how important donors are for non-profits, and it is the responsibility of non-profits to thank them for their contribution, and let them know they are valuable. A simple acknowledgment will help them getting tax benefits, feeling good about their contribution, and in developing willingness to stay association in the long run, meaning donor retention. So it is a win-win for you and your donors. Though there is no limit to creativity and innovative ideas for developing and implementing a donor appreciation program, here are a few suggestions.

  • Choose a time, platform and frequency

Select a time of the year when you want to employ donor appreciation/ recognition program. It can be an ongoing activity too, on your website/ social media accounts. For example, you may contribute a section to ‘donor of the day/ week/ month’ on your website. Update it very often. Try to recognize and acknowledge every donor’s contribution. If some donors would prefer anonymity, you may provide a dashboard/ infographics on your website to show donors’ activities and contributions on weekly or monthly basis, without names or personal information.

  • Interest of donors

Know your donors. Understand their preferences. Many donors may like to hear ‘thanks’ and how important their contribution is, on social media or public platforms, while many others would like anonymity despite their ‘good deed’. It is important to respect their choices and so take consent before publishing anything with donor information.

  • Selecting a theme

A theme can provide your campaign or program with relevance and context, alongwith a sense of belongingness to the donors who relate to the cause. Theme may be women and children, water and nature conservation, etc. Give a brief background about the theme, donors who have contributed towards the cause, and appeal to those who wish to be associated.

  • Motivate them to ‘give’ more

Research has shown that appreciated and happy donors are very likely to donate again for the cause. So, demonstrating gratitude towards donors is good for them as well as for your non-profit, as they are likely to be associated with you for longer periods. Inspire them and motivate them by sharing other donors’ stories, sharing stories of people who were benefitted by their contribution, and of those who need their help and support.

  • Never forget to acknowledge

Apart from public recognitions and media posts, never forget to acknowledge the contribution of donors in form of thank you letters and receipts, which will make them avail tax exemptions as per your country’s laws, while also making them feel good.

  • Make them know you better

Keep them updated about your latest plans and actions taken on the ground. Share pictures and stories of work done, people benefitted, and of the work to be done too. Share the cause and problems that you wish to address in the future, and what kind of support you will need to accomplish your mission. Deepen their understanding of your cause, mission and vision.

9 interesting ways to maintain relationships with your donors

Every donor, be it an individual, a donor agency, a foundation, or a CSR (corporate social responsibility) arm, looks for feedback from the non-profit or charity. Feedback in terms of knowing how important they are for you, how appreciated they are, and what it gives them to stay connected. A sense of appreciation, feeling of contributing towards a social cause, and regular and meaningful communication would result in maintenance of lasting relationships with your donors.

9 interesting ways to maintain relationships with your donors

Here are 10 interesting ways to help you maintain mutually beneficial relationships with your donors:

  1. Show appreciation

Whenever a donor contributes for your cause, make sure that you respond with appreciation. That said, appreciation can mean personalized emails, a thanks note on your website and/ or social media pages, or a personalized letter. You may tweet a thanks note with the donor’s name, or post a thanks note on your facebook page, tagging the donor. This appreciation would mean a lot to the donor, while it also has the potential to get more donors, for his/ her friends will see the good deed and would be motivated to do so too.

  1. Respond to their queries promptly and value follow-up

Donors are not mere suppliers of funds; instead they are a valuable asset to your organization. It is important to value your donors as partners, and to make them feel valued. So, make sure you respond to their queries promptly and follow-up with them on regular basis. This will also help in converting one-time or regular donors into recurrent ones. You may set up a hangout or chat session for this, or create a simple system for feedback through your website or social media accounts. The key is in ‘being prompt’.

  1. Report results- tell them how their donations make a difference

Tell your donors what impact you have been leaving on the communities you work for. Be careful that it sounds donor-centric rather than, ‘We do this, we do that, we are amazing, follow us, donate donate donate..’ A donor-centric approach will really help, ‘We have been attempting to reduce the inequalities and injustice towards underprivileged communities and your support brings us closer and closer to the goal. Thanks a lot for your selfless support. Here is how your contribution has been changing lives:……..(stories and impact figures to follow)…’.

  1. Create days of appreciation- be it Valentine’s day or Children’s day

Find opportunities to thank your donors in creative ways. With the social media and internet everywhere, it is not very difficult to look for such ways or plan and execute simple campaigns. For example, on Valentine’s Day, you may create a simple online event with good graphics, thanking each donor, posting messages or personalized emails, with messages like ‘No love is above the love for humanity. Thanks for being a great Valentine for this cause.’ Or ‘Let us spread love for these innocent children, support them with —— this Valentine..’ These are some of the examples, but you can be as creative as you wish to be.

  1. Share success stories and pictures

Share stories of success and inspiration on your website, social media pages, annual reports, newsletters, and in thank you letters, everywhere. Include pictures from the field, pictures of people whose lives have been touched by your work (of course with their consent). ‘A picture speaks a thousand words’ indeed holds true, and makes an emotional connect with your donors.

  1. Keep them posted with activity or event alerts

Let your donors know about what is happening in your organization and on field. Keep them posted about your events, send personalized invites to them for these. Does not matter whether they will come or not, what matters is that you keep you donors in mind for any important event. This makes them feel valued and stay connected to you.

  1. Invite them to write for you

Happy donors invite more donors towards your cause. Make them happier by connecting them to you cause in an integral manner. Invite them to write about their experiences of being associated with you. They may write pages, testimonials or blogs for you. If a corporate donor write a positive testimonial, be assured that this is definitely going to attract more donors and hence more support.

  1. Timelines, the ‘before and afters’

Share the project timelines, and the before and after stories. It will be best if clubbed with pictures. Share these on your websites, social media pages, in e-mailers, personalized letters, or anywhere you wish to. Frame a story, with this flow: situation earlier, what has been done to change it and why; and finally the ‘after’ situation. Sharing pictures along with these create a lasting impact. For example, pictures before toilets in schools, and after toilet construction, including how the hygienic conditions have improved, children play in safe and hygienic environment.

  1. Personalized thank you letters from the community

Imagine an 8-year old kid sending a thank you note to you for helping him continue education as follow his dreams! Wouldn’t it be the most gratifying feeling ever? Understand the value of feeling in donor-receiver relationship. Allow the donor hear directly from the recipient how he/ she has gained from the support. For example, if you are an organization working for education or children, you may get hand-written note or letter from the child and send it to his donor with a picture. Be assured that this donor feels so much valued and happy to contribute towards transforming lives, that he will be a recurrent donor. This is also because he knows his money is being used for the intended purpose.

Using Social Media to Enhance Your NGO Visibility

We have been living in the age of internet for quite some time now. Internet has enabled producers reach out to millions of consumers and vice-versa. It has helped connect writers to millions of its readers. In recent years the world of internet has come up with another new communication and social channel. Social media is a catch-all term for sites that may provide radically different social actions.

Over the last few years, social media has emerged as an important medium of communication globally for reaching out to a vast audience. Currently there is a plethora of social media sites and applications that are being used by diverse organisations. The main purpose of using social media is to connect to a large audience spreading across the globe, within fraction of a second and spread your message.

connect-social-media-blue

Different social sites offer consumers a wide range of options for generating awareness. For instance, Twitter is a social site designed to let people share short messages or “updates” with others. Facebook, in contrast is a complete social networking site that allows for sharing updates, photos, joining events and a variety of other activities. These social media sites are also being used to market and promote various products and works.

Just like any business house or academic institute, NGOs can also take advantage of social media to create awareness amongst relevant stakeholders about their activities.

However before venturing into social media there are few key questions which you should be asking to effectively utilise social media for promoting your work.

  1. Why use social media to promote your work?
  • It will help you reach out to potential donors, social workers and other users – First and foremost social media sites are a platform for social interaction. Every post you make on a social media platform is an opportunity for customers to convert. When you build a following, you’ll simultaneously have access to new customers, recent customers, and old customers, and you’ll be able to interact with all of them. Every blog post, image, video, or comment you share is a chance for someone to react, and every reaction could lead to a site visit, and eventually a conversion.  That is posting about your product or work on these sites help you reach out to a ton of users. These users can be users who are already aware of your work or they could also be potentially your new users. These new users can be reached out and made aware of your work/product by posting on these sites.

Most social media sites have a discovering feature. By discovery feature, when a user searches, comments or likes a particular type of content, then the site looks up similar posts or content and suggest it to the user for better user experience. This basically provides you a platform where even if a user who does not know about your company or organisation, but is interested in your content can be reached potentially by using the right content.

  • Prompt action to user feedback – If the user has any feedback regarding your product, service or content social media is an excellent place for users to get in touch with you. Also your prompt action and active response to these feedbacks are viewable to other users you might or might not share the same kind of feedback. Hence they also are made aware of your response to feedback. Study after study has shown that consumers /users appreciate organisations that respond to feedbacks (and users don’t hesitate to rant online to anyone who will listen when organisation don’t take the time to make things right).
  • Its free – If you handle your own social media management, running a social networking campaign is as cheap as it gets. If you hire a social media management or online PR agency, it’ll be an investment that you’ll be likely to see a return on. If you’re intimidated by interacting with people online or your writing skills leave something to be desired, hiring an online PR agency is definitely the way to go. Posting poorly written content or conveying the wrong kind of messages on social networking sites can seriously affect your digital presence.
  • Increases Website TrafficSocial media is also a major plausible cause of traffic generator for your actual site. When you share blog posts, videos and other content from your website, you give your audience a reason to click through and visit your site. Once there, you have the opportunity to inspire those visitors to take action by inviting them to sign up for your mailing list, or call to schedule a free consultation. Install traffic monitoring service, such as Google Analytics, and if you are committed to your social media efforts, you will clearly see that social media brings traffic. Also, make sure that your visitors receive a clear call to action when they visit your site so that you can convert that extra traffic into regular users / customers.
  1. How to use social media for promoting your work?
  • Decide your goal and plan your content accordingly: There are various marketing or promotion goals from which you can create the mix that you want. From creating your presence on internet, to connect with old or current users , to finding new users or simply keeping up with competition. Before you get started with social media, you should prepare a list of goals you want to achieve from this exercise. Break these goals into smaller, achievable and trackable items and plan your content accordingly.
  • Start slow: If you are venturing into the social media for the first time for promoting your work, then you can start it slow. So that you do not get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of social media sites. Pick just one or two social media site. Each has a learning curve, but none is so complex you won’t be able to grasp the basics and begin. List of few social media sites :
  1. Facebook: Millions of people use Facebook everyday to keep up with friends, upload an unlimited number of photos, share links and videos, and learn more about the people they meet.
  2. Twitter: is a real-time short messaging service (SMS) that works over multiple networks and devices. In countries all around the world, people follow the sources most relevant to them and access information via Twitter as it happens — from breaking world news to updates from friends.
  3. Instagram: is a application that allows you to share pictures with your followers who can “like” and comment on your posts. Instagram also allows you to share those posts on Facebook and Twitter.
  4. Google+ (Google Plus): is a social media site that lets you connect with others who have similar interests and enables you to post and share content with others.
  5. LinkedIn: is an interconnected network of more than 36 million experienced professionals from around the world. The site can help you make better use of your professional network and help the people you trust in return.
  6. Reddit: is a source for what’s new and popular on the Web — personalized for you. Your votes train a filter, so let Reddit know what you liked and disliked, because you’ll begin to see recommended links filtered to your tastes. All of the content on reddit is submitted and voted on by users like you.
  • Learn the apps / sites features:  You would need to learnhow the app/site of choice operates. Each channel has much in common, but they differ in significant ways. Invest a little time learning the ropes. You need not read books or enroll in a course. Instead, acquaint yourself with the social media site you’ll use by asking for help from a friend, downloading an ebook or guide and searching for blogs that offer guidance from experts. Another good idea could be keeping your account private for some time while you learn the ropes and then unveiling it to the public.
  • Use Data and Facts: along with mentioning your NGOs story and best practices, make sure you use some facts and figures related to your mission. This will make the users understand the severity of the social cause that you address.
  • Integrate a donate button: You should take advantage of the virtual platform to support your fundraising efforts. With a donate button on your social profile, people who are passionate for the cause can contribute towards the cause, thereby increasing your online fundraising success.
  • Be Consistent: You need to budget time to do social media. How much time is up to you, but understand you’ll be taken far more seriously if you’re active on a daily or bi-daily basis. Yes, you can shut it down for a day, weekend or take a break without threatening your good standing. The caution to take is if you merely check in with a post now and then, you probably won’t be taken seriously.
  • Keep a steady stream of visual content: Study has shown that viewers respond quicker to visual content that written. So accompany your written content with visual content, that is add photos to blog post or updating photos on social media with small caption with a link to the site with elaborate content.  Try using images and videos of your projects to have a deep impact amongst the users. Visual images and video stories always create better understanding of your project thereby influencing more people to connect to your organisation.
  • Share or comment on other’s content: Like in the real world, in the virtual world building a network helps in various ways. You can start building a network by sharing and appreciating other’s content. Social media is very much reciprocal. People notice and appreciate it when you take the time to share their blog posts, images, videos, etc., and will likely return the favour. Not only sharing but commenting on other’s content can help you build a reputation in social media.

You should always keep in mind that content on internet is internal, therefore plan and access your content before posting.Social media is a great and a powerful medium to reach out to people, therefore it should be used with discretion and control to create a positive image for your work.

How NGOs can use Facebook for ensuring an Effective Presence

Facebook for Your NGO

Facebook is an important platform for non government organizations (NGOs), especially those in the developing world. As the developing world comes online, they do so through their mobile devices, and for them, the Internet is Facebook.

For NGOs in the developing world, an effective presence on Facebook is becoming vital. It is a way to stay in touch with your supporters, to build a base of people committed to your mission, to spread the message about your organization, and even reach your beneficiaries with program interventions.

Given that most people’s only introduction to the Internet is Facebook, you should prioritize this channel as much as your website, if not more so. A Facebook strategy should be a core part of your communication efforts, and needs to complement other communication tools.

If you do not yet have a Facebook page, you can take a look at our guide on creating a Facebook page to help you get started.

Your investment in Facebook will really pay off in the long term, giving you a large network of supporters who you can mobilize when needed to rally around campaigns, raise funds, and engage with, and on behalf of your NGO.

Strategize

It is important to engage in Facebook with a long term view. That means thinking about what kind of people you want to attract to your page, what kinds of conversation you want to ignite, and how you can open up new opportunities for your NGO through your engagement here.

Do not think of it as just a broadcast channel. Think of it as an interactive platform that will allow you to engage with people in new ways. It is an opportunity to hear what others have to say about your work, and give them a meaningful way to participate. Do not waste this opportunity, or your followers’ time.

For success on Facebook, as on other communication channels, the key is to understand your audience. This should be a part of your strategic communication exercise. Once you have a good understanding of who you want to reach, your tone, message, and other details will easily flow from there.

You can also decide to use Facebook to reach a particular segment of your overall audience. For example, if you are an NGO working in higher education, you have donors, experts, and college students, all as your target audiences. You can decide that you will use your Facebook page primarily to reach college students, as they are already on the channel. You can then decide that you will engage with experts primarily via another channel (e.g. Twitter or blogs), and reach out to donors mostly via email.

Although you will get a mix of audiences in all your channels, you will see more success if you use Facebook thoughtfully, by taking advantage of its particular strengths, which include a young audience, a casual tone, an emphasis on two-way communication, and high responsiveness.

If you have a clear strategy and/or guidelines, it will be easier to say no to others within the organization, who might want to use the channel to promote their own work which might not be of interest to your Facebook audience.

Assign Responsibility

Now that you have a strategy, you need to put in place systems, processes, and personnel for Facebook. Engaging with a long term view requires you to make responsibility for Facebook appear in the work plan of at least one person at the organization. If nobody is explicitly responsible for Facebook, it won’t receive the attention it deserves. Communication results achieved on this channel should get rewarded, just like results achieved offline: say in street canvassing, or event management.

Although this is less frequent nowadays, organizations have, in the past, made the intern or the only young person in the organization responsible for Facebook, and then decided they had taken care of it. However, this is not enough. For your work on Facebook to be successful, the person in charge needs to be able to play a coordinating role within your NGO, and feature the best stuff across the board.

It is important for those at the highest level of the organization to show interest in success on Facebook. This will make sure everyone in the organization is contributing. If you are an NGO that has a standing morning meeting, you can ask people for ideas there, and make the best ideas a part of your content schedule.

Engage in Professional Branding

There are numerous Facebook pages out there that do not invest in something as basic as a good, non-pixelated image for the cover page and profile picture. Make no mistake. Your Facebook page is the first impression many people will get about your NGO. It is important to have clear messages, with crisp images on your page. In addition, with mobile traffic increasing, it is important to be sensitive to mobile users. Visit this Facebook page to understand the image sizes Facebook requires. Image sizes could vary, depending on whether a new layout has been implemented in your location.

Another easy way to brand your page and promote it is to create a unique url for your page. Make it simple. If it is available, use the simplest url; i.e. https://facebook.com/yourorganizationname. Once you have it, use it everywhere. Make sure to include your Facebook url in your brochures, publications, visiting cards of all employees in the organization, and other offline content.

You should also integrate Facebook with your other channels. Provide widgets for your Facebook page (the little Facebook icon that links to your Facebook page) on your website, and provide your website address on your Facebook page.

Your tone on the social media platform is also a representation of your organization. Keep a conversational, yet professional tone. You want to make the viewer feel welcome, while still looking like a competent outfit.

Create a Content Strategy and Calendar

Content strategy refers to the planning, development, and management of content. Managing your Facebook page will become much simpler once you have a content strategy in place. Facebook is a hungry channel. Even if you post once a day, the content you have lying around will soon be exhausted.

The content strategy and plan should be created with…

FACEBOOK FOR NGOS

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How to make your Organization Accountable?

Over the past few decades NGOs have gained significant popularity as the third pillar of development and have played a key role in providing social, economic and environmental services to the marginalized. Growth of NGOs as providers of essential services and key players in policy reforms has been a global phenomenon. NGOs have worked very effectively in areas where both government and private players have failed miserably, this ability of NGOs to work in the most fragile and backward places has been recognized and applauded by both national and international entities.

How to make your Organization Accountable?

With the rising influence of NGOs in the development sector, there also has been an increase in questions regarding the accountability and legitimacy. NGOs have responded differently to the issues related to accountability and transparency.

We bring to you some ways through which you can make your organization more accountable. Before talking about methods to ensure accountability in your organization, so let us understand the meaning of accountability, the aspects of accountability and its importance.

What is Accountability?

Accountability basically refers to an organization being answerable to a third party. It refers to the obligation of an individual or organization to account for its activities, accept responsibility for them, and to disclose the results in a transparent manner.

Accountability is a very large term and encompasses several issues of an NGO; some of these may include organizational management structure, financial procedures, human resource policies etc. Experts suggest that organizations with high accountability and credibility are often preferred by donors and are more likely to get funded.

Aspects of Accountability

As an NGO you are accountable to donors, project partners, local communities and considering these, experts have suggested four aspects of accountability for an NGO.

  • Upward Accountability: This refers to the responsibility of an NGO towards being accountable to funders, donors and government institutions. As an organization you are answerable to donors and funders about how you will be utilizing their money.
  • Horizontal Accountability: This refers to being responsible with project partners, peers and related organizations. This also includes enhancing partnerships and collaborations with other organizations and stakeholders.
  • Downward Accountability: This means that as an organization you are responsible towards your beneficiaries and the target audience. You have received funding from a donor for the upliftment and improvement of lives of these beneficiaries and therefore you are answerable to them. Along with being accountable to them you also should involve them with the project implementation.
  • Internal Accountability: One of the most important aspects of accountability is to be answerable to your own employees and your organizations mission. It means that you have ethical standards and governance structures and justify your organizations core value.

Most often NGOs give more importance to enhance external accountability and give little or no importance to other forms of accountability. This guide has been drafted keeping in mind all the aspects of accountability.

Importance of Accountability

You might be wondering that your organization has been doing exemplary social work for the last few decades and for these years you never worried about being accountable, so why this fuss?

The following points will help you understand the importance of accountability.

  • Improved relations with donors and funders: Most donor agencies prefer organizations that have well built accounting mechanisms.
  • Financial security: With proper accounting and audits you are can ensure that all your transactions are secure and you are able to keep a check on money.
  • Greater involvement of communities: Local communities tend to get involved with NGOs that have shown accountability in the past. Communities will support your cause and will participate in your project implementation.
  • Facilitates partnerships and collaborations: Proper accountability tools will facilitate in developing partnerships with other organizations and agencies.
  • Greater employability: Your staff will continue to work with you as they would feel secure to work for an organization that is credible.
  • Improved performance: Accountability tools help you to keep check on your activities thereby improving your performance. Research reveals that NGOs with regulatory mechanisms are more effective in terms of their performance and impact.

Mechanisms to ensure accountability

This section provides you with some tools that can be used to ensure accountability.

  • Registration: Make sure your organization has a legal status and is registered under a relevant legal framework. Registering your NGO will not help you in enhancing your accountability but would also enable you to interact with government agencies and diverse donors. Your chances of getting financial support and assistance will also increase.
  • Accreditations and certifications: This refers to an external agency certifying that your organization complies with a set of norms and policies. Accreditation ensures that your organization has been evaluated by a third party and fulfills the nationally recommended standards and policies.
  • Annual Reports: Publishing your annual reports regularly is a great way to ensure that you are fulfilling the required activities responsibly. The annual report provides the readers with details about all the activities that your organization undertook a particular year. Make sure you use images and data to represent important changes and activities that you completed in a particular year.
  • Financial Reports: Another important tool to enhance accountability is to regularly update and compile your financial reports. This report clearly indicates your income and expenditure on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis. Donors and supporters always trust organizations that show transparency in their financial transactions.
  • Third Party Audits and Evaluation: Many organizations rely on evaluation and external audits as a accounting tool. The external audits help you to analyze and see if you are complying with the industry standards and norms.
  • Publicize your activities: As long as you are not doing fraud you have nothing to fret so you should publicize your organizations activities. You can use take support of press and the internet to showcase your project activities. Publicizing your activities enhances your visibility and promotes public trust.
  • Develop your own set of self regulation procedures: This is considered to be one of the most effective ways to enhance accountability. Develop your own policies of keeping records, formats for reports, trip and field reports, internal minutes. You can also start internal auditing every three months to keep a check on all activities.
  • Stakeholder Feedback Reports: Start taking view points of the beneficiaries you are working with to understand their perceptions about a project. This way you can immediately respond to their issues and develop long term trust.
  • Contact Information: Make sure that you provide accurate and correct contact details on your webpage, letter head and other communication. In case your office address changes, remember to send the updated address to the donors and relevant authorities.
  • Improve communication channels: Develop communication channels so that you can share your impact stories with a large audience. You can do this through press releases, blogs, newsletters, magazines and social media updates.
  • Initiating partnerships with renowned entities: Partnering with well established organizations help in getting recognition and trust of people.
  • Get recognized for your work: Send in your organizations entry for various award functions and competitions. Getting awarded for a social cause will make you appear more accountable and will also enhance your public presence.
  • Conduct due diligence before partnering with a new organization: Conduct in-depth research of a new partner firm before entering in a partnership. This will help you in selecting reliable partners who have a clean background and have not been involved in fraud or an anti-social activity.
  • Make the list of trustees and board members public: Experts suggest that you the list of current Board members should be publicly accessible. You should update the list whenever there is a change of board members.
  • Strengthen human resource policies: Develop strong human resources management policy that would ensure retention of staff and ethical hiring. Make sure the policies comply with relevant labor regulations applicable to your country.
  • Appoint a rating agency or watchdog firm: Several organizations set up their own standards and rating systems to measure the performance of other organizations. The rating system can be applied to various activities and functions of the NGO.
  • Adopt ethical fundraising methods: Ethical fundraising policies should be adopted while accepting funds. Make sure that you adhere to proper guidelines and report everything transparently to the donors.
  • Clearly defined Membership Procedure: You should have proper guidelines relating to membership fees, member duties and responsibilities etc. Also share important decisions and update the members on a regular basis.

The issue of NGO accountability has recently gained popularity and in the coming time will become a very important aspect in NGO management. Although International NGOs and few regional NGOs have been using various methods to enhance accountability for quite some time now; it is only recently that accountability questions are also being raised for small entities as well.

We hope that you can adopt few tips from this guide to make your organization more accountable and credible.

How to Create a Communications Plan for Your NGO

What Is a Communications Plan?

A communications plan is a document that guides the external communications efforts of an organization. It helps an NGO strategically focus its communication and outreach efforts around a certain set of goals – usually the mission and objectives of an organization. A communications plan is necessary to help an NGO effectively promote its work in the public and donors eyes.

Communications plans help NGOs accomplish this in a number of ways. First, a plan assists an organization in tailoring its message towards specific audiences, and determining which outreach and marketing materials and mediums are best used to communicate with those groups. A communications plan also coordinates the creation and implementation of those materials. Finally, every good communications plan contains an evaluation rubric – a matrix used to assess what is working and what is not so you are constantly improving your communications efforts.

While a communications plan can and should be written for an entire organization, you can also develop communications plans for new projects, events, or anything else that relies on communicating with external stakeholders and audiences.

A completed communications plan should not simply sit on the shelf. It is a document that should be a resource whenever a staff member wishes to seek guidance on how to communicate about your NGO. It is a strategy that should be regularly reviewed and updated based on organizational priorities, staff capacity, and program development.

Why Does My Organization Need a Communications Plan?

An NGO without a communications plan is an organization engaging with its audience blindly.

Here’s an example. Perhaps you are trying to recruit new youth participants to join your program. Without a communications plan, you may not have an informed sense of who these youth participants are, where they access information about new programs, and the language to use with them. Thoughtful brainstorming as part of a communications plan can help better target these desired beneficiaries.

Or say you have been trying desperately to engage with a new donor over email, but have never received a response. A communications plan workshop may show that the person you are trying to reach does not check their email often and prefers introductory letters sent to their office. Perhaps someone within your organization knew this, but it was not yet institutional knowledge. A communications plan taps into the background and networks of your team to create informed choices around who you are speaking with and how.

An NGO-wide communications plan will also mean there is consistency in the way you are communicating about your organization. Rather than the Executive Director and a Project Manager referring to programs in different ways, a communications plan will help sync those messages so you do not confuse your audience.

How Do I Create a Communications Plan With My Team?

Creating a communications plan is best done step-by-step over the course of a half day. Usually brainstorming takes around three or four hours.

It is best to choose a team member to lead a communications plan workshop. This person should ideally be someone who is committed fully to the organization’s communications, public relations, or marketing duties.

From there, you can work through the elements of a communications plan listed below. This process should be as interactive as possible. Include flipcharts and post-it notes so everyone has a say in what goes into the plan. This process is best done as a group effort, and all levels of the organization should be represented, including the executive team. It is especially important that those regularly communicating to external groups be present at the workshop.

Once you have filled out the elements listed in this guide, the lead staff member should compile the information and create a multi-page document that can be accessed and referred to by all members of your team.

Considerations Before You Get Started

Before you create your communications plan, there are a few considerations to take into account:

  • Budget: Despite there being a variety of free communications channels on the market, the reality is this: it often takes money to communicate effectively with large audiences. From printing costs to media house stipends to sponsored social media ads, it is essential you have a sense of your communications and marketing budget before dreaming big with your communications efforts.
  • Capacity: Does your NGO have the staffing ability to create, maintain, and use a communications plan? While a communications strategy is an essential part of any organization no matter its size, you must have a champion on your team to lead this process in the long-run.
  • Executive will: Does your NGO’s executive team believe in the value of a communications plan? Often these are the people communicating to the widest group of people about the organization. It is necessary to ensure they are on board before getting started with any workshop or planning.

What Are the Elements of a Communications Plan?

A communications plan has six key elements. These half dozen steps are closely intertwined, and the information included in one is used to determine the information in the next.

How to Create a Communications Plan for Your NGO

  1. Identify Your Organizational Objectives and Communication Goals

Your objectives are the big picture, pie-in-the-sky ambitions you have for your organization and the results of effective communication efforts. Ideally your communications objectives align with the objectives of the organization as a whole – values usually listed in an NGO’s mission statement.

Your goals, on the other hand, are the tangible steps that help you achieve those ambitious objectives. Your communications goals should be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time bound.

There is a metaphor you can use to differentiate between your NGO’s communications objectives and the communication goals. You can liken an objective to a big picture action such as running a marathon. Your goals are then nested within that objective. In this case, your goals would be the smaller steps it takes to reach that greater objective. So if your objective is to run a marathon, the goals leading up to that could be “to train five times a week, to eat healthier, and to do strength workouts in the gym.”

Likewise, if your objective is “we want to become the forefront agri-business NGO in Malawi,” your communications goals could be “to raise the profile of your NGO with the local agricultural college, to create flyers for an upcoming cattle and poultry fair, and to have one or two key government officials briefed on the work of your organization.” Each of these three steps can help attain the larger objective.

Here is a sample template you can use to list your objectives and the corresponding goals.

Organization's Objectives and Goals

What are your organizational assets?

Organizational assets are what make your NGO special. These are unique, one-line aspects of programming that will appeal to your audience. Use a bullet list to think of as many assets as you can. You can always add to this list later.

What are your organizational values?

Organizational values are the central beliefs that should drive the design, facilitation, and scaling of your NGO. All communications and organization decisions should take these core values into consideration. Make a bullet list of a few short statements.

Create a SWOT chart

The acronym “SWOT” stands for four headings: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. These items are important to consider in your plan as they may impact an NGO’s communications efforts. Strengths and weaknesses are factors internal to your NGO and team, while opportunities and threats are impacted by external forces and parties.

Here is a template to inspire your SWOT chart:

SWOT

Determining the bullet points that go under each of the SWOT headings is just a start. The next step is to determine how to minimize the weaknesses and threats and best take advantage of the strengths and opportunities.

For the first, come up with solutions to move past each of the weaknesses and threats you identified. For example, if a weakness is identified as “we don’t have enough publicity in the regions where we work,” a solution could be to “work to expand our networks of media contacts to raise our NGO’s profile in the community.

For the second, list ways you can take advantage of the strengths and opportunities. For example, if one of your opportunities is that you have an eager and talented photographer on your team, an advantage is that you could use their talent to create multimedia material to promote your NGO.

  1. Determine Your Audience Groups

This is the part of the communications plan where you determine with whom your organization wishes to communicate. Whether it’s youth, government officials, potential donors, or partner organizations, this is the chance to brainstorm what you know about each of these groups.

The idea is this: if you understand who your audience groups are and what motivates them, you are better able to tailor your message to achieve the goals and objectives listed in part one of your communications plan.

As part of determining your audience groups, you will want to list the broad assumptions that can be made about each of those target groups. That can include:

  • Age: What is the average age of a person in this audience group? For example, if you are communicating with youth, your answer will likely be “18 to 29-years-old.” If the audience group is donors, perhaps the average age is someone in their 40’s or 50’s. The age of your audience will affect the message that will have the most impact and the materials they are most likely to use.
    • For example: Millennials do not communicate using the same language as elders. Even if both groups are speaking Amharic in Ethiopia, the words they choose to describe their thoughts will likely be dramatically different. By determining the average age of your audience, you can determine which tone to use. There are very specific cultural references linked to different age groups. You best know the age of your audience before using those references in communications. Age can also help determine whether you should be using a more formal or conversational tone with a group.
  • Language: What language does this audience group speak? This is especially important in countries where there are several official languages and dialects.
    • For example: Perhaps you’re a Nepalese speaking organization, but your donors speak primarily English. By identifying that English is the language used to communicate by that audience group, you can make sure the communications tools and materials you develop are in that language.
  • Access to technology: What technology does an audience group realistically have access to? Is it a simple mobile phone? A smart phone? A personal computer or a work computer? Identifying the assumptions about each audience group’s level of technology access and digital literacy will help your NGO narrow in on which communications materials may best reach that audience.
    • For example: Say you are trying to communicate with beneficiaries living in a rural village. It does not make sense to communicate through Facebook, Twitter, and email newsletters if those people only have access to mobile phones.
  • Location: Where does your audience live and where in the community do they go to access programming and information?
    • For example: If the beneficiaries you are trying to reach are primarily university students, you will want to promote the program on campus and in community and school meeting spots that are important to them.
  • Education level: How much formal schooling has the average person within your audience group completed? What is their literacy level, including their ability to read and write?
    • For example: Let’s say your NGO is starting a project targeting urban youth who have only completed primary school. These beneficiaries may not have the highest literacy level, and may only be able to read the most basic of text. In this case, you may wish to use very simple language, or perhaps instead rely on illustrations or word of mouth to inform them about your project. If writing is an issue, than you know that registration should be done in person rather than through a registration form.
  • Attitudes and beliefs: This assumption is more abstract and difficult to identify. Attitudes and beliefs are factors that could affect the way you communicate with any one group. This can be especially pertinent in countries and contexts where there are long-standing cultural norms around concepts such as gender.
    • For example: Imagine you are an organization trying to get government support for a women’s business program your NGO operates. It is important to recognize whether the government officials you may be communicating with have preconceived stereotypes about women and their roles. Do they think women do not have the skills and experience to start businesses? Do they think women are lazy? Identifying these assumptions will help your organization highlight misconceptions your communications may have to work to overcome.

At a minimum, consider the assumptions listed above. Add any other information you think may help your NGO communicate with a specific group.

Here is a sample template you can use to list information about each audience group. Copy and paste this chart for every one of your organization’s intended audience segments.

Audience Segment

  1. Find Your Message

Your message is a call to action. Now that you have identified each of your audience groups, what do you want them to do?

Messages are most effective when they include no more than three main points. Here are three components that should guide the creation of your message:

  • Needs statement: What need is your NGO, program, or project addressing? Why is it important?
  • Program strategy: How is your NGO, program, or project filling that need?
  • Call to action: Now that you’ve identified the need and how your organization is the solution, ask your audience to do something. Do you want them to donate funds? Sign up for your program? Come to an event? Be clear on your call to action and state it explicitly in your message.

You should come up with a message for each of the audience groups identified in step two. Remember to take into consideration the assumptions you made about each of those groups. Develop a four to five line paragraph of messaging and let it serve as the inspiration and elevator pitch for future communication.

Identify credible messengers

Credible messengers are people who serve as ambassadors for your organization, promoting its mission, programs, and projects to a wider audience. It is important to find these people once your organization has defined its different messages.

Credible messengers do not always need to be people external to an organization. For example, a Country Manager or Project Lead can – and hopefully will – serve as an effective ambassador for your organization. Credible messengers external to your organization can be anyone from a community leader to an official at a partner organization to a particularly engaged beneficiary. Anyone you think will be able to ignite interest and excitement around your organization.

Here are some elements that make for a successful credible messenger:

  • He/she is engaged and enthusiastic about your organization and its mission;
  • He/she is well connected within the audience group you are trying to reach;
  • He/she has been briefed about the organization and its programs so they can speak accurately to others;
  • He/she has a contact to direct people towards should they wish to find out more information.

Once you have identified your credible messengers, be sure they are constantly kept informed about changes or developments within the organization. Ensure they know their role is appreciated.

Develop your boilerplate text

A boilerplate text is a single paragraph that describes your organization. Boilerplate paragraphs are often found at the end of press releases, partner letters, and other documents that are released to the public.

Here are some suggested elements to include in your NGO’s boilerplate text:

  • A one or two sentence description of the main mission of your NGO;
  • Your NGO’s goal: what impact are you hoping to make through your work;
  • Where your NGO is based and how long the project is for (if applicable);
  • Whether there are any partner organizations involved;
  • When the organization was established.

If your organization already has a boilerplate paragraph, consider reviewing and updating it as you see fit based on what has been identified in your new communications plan.

  1. Identify and Create Your Materials

Now that you have messages for each of your audience groups, it is time to figure out how to communicate them.

Go through your audience groups one by one. Make a bulleted list of every material and medium you think you may need.

  • Materials are items such as brochures, briefing notes, flyers, press releases, and other documents you may need to communicate.
  • Mediums are the technology and non-technology tools you are using to share those materials. Examples of technology mediums are social media, email, and SMS bursts. Non-technology mediums would involve newspapers, newsletters, and community center bulletin boards.

Here is a sample template you can use to expand on each communications tool or material. Copy and paste this chart for every one of the materials and mediums you listed.

Communications Tool

  1. Implementation of Your Communications Plan

Your entire communications plan is in aid of implementation. This step involves combining everything you’ve learned about your audience, the message that is most effective in communicating with them, and the materials you’ve developed. Now it’s time to put those tools into practice.

A good way to manage the implementation of your communications plan is to create a content calendar. A content calendar is a document (or physical calendar) that tracks each upcoming communication need, when it’s needed, and who will be overseeing each task.

Here is a sample content calendar template. Repeat the following chart to match each material or upcoming communications need.

Communications Need

In addition to the chart listed above, a number of online tools can be used to create your content calendar. Google Calendar allows you to create a calendar that can be shared among your team. Trello is a free project management platform that allows you to create task boards where you can list different communications materials, add a deadline date, and assign them to another team member’s board for completion.

  1. Evaluate Your Communications

This is one part of the communications plan workshop that is not completed at the same time as the other elements. A major evaluation and overhaul of your communications plan should be conducted annually. Otherwise, minor updates should be made as the NGO changes or a new program is launched.

Here are a few questions you can ask to determine whether your communications and communications plan have been impactful:

  • Were your communications activities adequately planned?
  • Did the recipients of the messages understand them? Did they follow your call to action?
  • Were all staff involved in the planning and delivery of your communications?
  • How could the communications strategy have been more effective?
  • Were the desired organizational objectives reached?
  • Were you on track with the timeline and budget for materials?

Sit down as a team and critically discuss these questions and others. Adapt your communications plan based on what is determined to be going well and what could be improved.

What Comes Next?

Run your workshop! As mentioned earlier, that is just the start in the communications strategy development. Once you have brainstormed as a team, one or two people should review that information and extrapolate the key points into a comprehensive communications plan using the six elements mentioned earlier in this guide.

Once the first draft is complete, the communications plan should be reviewed by the team and stored in a shared computer drive or location where all members of the team can refer at any point.

Remember that a successful communications plan impacts all aspects of your organization, from outreach to program operations to fundraising. Now that you know the components of a communications plan and how to tailor those elements to your NGO, we wish you the best of luck in moving forward in a more coordinated and effective way.

Further Information

7 steps for NGOs to build a network

What is a network and what is networking? As a noun, network means ‘a group or system of interconnected people or things’, and as a verb, to network means ‘to interact with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts’. (Source: online dictionary).

Networking is crucial for one’s personal and professional growth in the work sphere. Organizations employ people specifically to expand their network in the ecosystem they work in. For non-profits, networking becomes even more important, because of closely linked roles of various stakeholders in the ecosystem, inter-dependence on one another, and dependence on the governments and donors to some extent.

Here are 7 steps for NGOs for building a network:

  1. Take initiative:

Networking might be a little out of your comfort zone, but you may hire someone with experience in networking, or ask your board members to get involved as they will have a strong network already. Lack of initiative and inactivity will not help, so you will need to take initiative for networking.

  1. Participation in events:

There are lot of events going on all year round related to non-profit sector, civil society and CSR. Participation in these events can be very fruitful for networking, building connections, and potential partnerships in future.

  1. Create a database of contacts:

Collect lot of visiting cards and contact details. This contact information will grow if you keep attending events and conferences, meet-ups, etc. With this information, create a database of contacts. Save this database as one of your e-mail list too.

  1. Exchange information:

Keep your network posted about the work you are doing. This can be by means of mailers, newsletters, reports, pictures, graphics, videos, testimonies, anything! Having no information to share implies inactivity. So, document your work in some form and broadcast! Keep a lot of visiting cards with you, and brochures and other promotional material too, while attending an event.

  1. Show interest and remember the principle of reciprocity:

Be posted about what others are doing. Read about them, explore their websites and social media pages. Show interest in their work and events, and remember their interests.

  1. Online and offline networking:

Though internet and social media are making networking easier and faster than ever, you must be aware of the pros and cons. There is a clear emotional difference in online and offline ways. For example, if you wish to invite an important person for an event, you would like to meet or call up rather than only sending a mail. So be aware of these emotional differences and decide what will appeal, as per the context.

  1. Lastly, remember that it is ‘humans’ you are dealing with:

Remember that in any sector, organization, or industry, lots of human factors come into picture. So, networking does not only have a rational basis, but emotional too. So be nice and greet people you meet. Introduce yourselves get to know about the others. Try to stay in touch. You might not like all the people you need to meet, but be aware of your emotional responses, and try to strike a balance.

8 very simple yet effective tips for donor retention

NGOs are now focusing on donor acquisition strategies, along with resource mobilization and fundraising strategies. But research tells us that the donor retention rates are poor in most cases, at a mere 25%. This means that out of 4 new donors acquired; only 1 continues to be associated with the cause for the next year.

This means that most of the efforts and resources spent for raising resources and acquiring donors go in vain! A high donor retention rate means less resources spent, and more received. So, NGOs need to work on donor acquisition and retention strategies too. Here are some simple but very effective tips for NGO to achieve good retention rates.

8 very simple yet effective tips for donor retention

  1. Know your donors:

Knowing the donors and their intent towards investing in social causes is the first step for true engagement. Some donors might want to engage themselves, my means of volunteers, and participation in the various events of the NGO; while others might be okay with timely reports received from NGOs sans any ‘hands-on’ experiences. So, understanding a donor first will be instrumental for devising engagement strategy.

  1. Real engagement: develop strategy and systems:

Many donors want a real engagement with the NGO, and even with the beneficiaries. It is important to vision a long-term engagement with the donor to make the best out of the relationship. Thus a donation must not be viewed as just one-time transaction, but as a step towards more meaningful relationship. This will guide the NGO to make it inherent in the strategy and develop systems accordingly.

  1. Do it better than others:

No doubt, your NGO and staff are committed and highly motivated to work towards a social cause. But demonstrating your professionalism and ability to make yourself stand out is the key to get noticed by the donors. For example, in case of corporate donors, know which partners are associated with the donor, what they do, and how they are doing it. Display that you are better at your work than your ‘competitors’.

  1. Have a clear communications strategy:

NGOs need to understand the need of more and meaningful communication with the donors. One tip here is to develop a ‘communication calendar’, similar to your project activity calendar or a Gantt chart. Share this calendar with your donors too, and stick to it!

  1. Thank your donors:

Believe in your heart that donors are very, very important. So, you need to acknowledge their contribution and send ‘thank you’s, along with other communications as per your calendar.

  1. Speak a language understandable to the donor:

Understand that your jargons might impress the donor once, but use of jargons and heavy terms in routine communication will make the donor just glance through your communication material, or maybe not even that! Use a language that is understandable for the donors, to make them feel a part of the ‘family’. Send them the information they want to hear, not what you want to share. 

  1. Share stories:

The donors are overwhelmed when they get to know what change their contribution is bringing about. Remember that most donations come from the ‘heart’, that is the donor’s desire to do good. Share stories, case studies, success stories to delight, encourage, and engage the donor.

  1. Ask for feedback:

The best way to find out areas of improvement is to ask for feedback. Ask your donors what they like, what they don’t, and how they would like you to improve. Obviously, taking feedback very seriously and acting on it is imperative thereafter.

How Marketing and Communication Strategies can help NGOs achieve Fundraising Success

Marketing Mix for NGOs:

Marketing is a very important function in business practices. It entails making the customer aware of the proposition of a product or service, making them buy the product/ service, and ultimately building a brand. In non-profits too, the marketing principles hold good because there is requirement of funds to carry on existing functions and to build capacities for future. So, the donor is our customer here, and the cause or project is a product!

Research and evidence has shown that market-oriented organizations, which understand the target audience thoroughly, are the most successful ones. How would one attract a customer (a donor here) if there are no efforts made towards building a brand and a customer base? So, let us understand the applicability of marketing principles for NGOs, to understand why they need marketing and why it is necessary to realize the importance of concerted efforts and allocating resources towards it.

How can Marketing & Communications Strategies help NGOs achieve Fundraising Success

The marketing mix: 4Ps of marketing:

Marketing mix is used as a tool by the managers to design marketing plans and to achieve desired results. It comprises of 4 Ps: Product, Place, Price, and Promotion. Drawing a parallel with NGOs: (Please note that here we are considering the donor a corresponding term for the customer, not a beneficiary)

  • The Product for an NGO is the cause or idea it supports or a core programme or project. We know that many NGOs work on the same cause, like child education, health, women empowerment, etc. One needs to study the models adopted by other NGOs to have a clear understanding of what differentiates them, what is the unique proposition in terms of benefit to the beneficiary or otherwise.
  • Price is the budget to be asked to the donor, the project or program cost. NGO needs to have the ability to explain what change the donation will bring about. In case of corporate donors, NGOs must project these costs as an ‘investment’, as the donor company has potential gains from this investment, like positive results for the brand, apart from the ‘Social Return on Investment’ (SROI). NGO needs to have the ability to demonstrate to the corporate donor how they can ‘do well by doing good for the society’, and use the business case to pitch for funding.
  • Promotion refers to all the methods of communication that a marketer may use to provide information to different stakeholders about the product or service. In case of NGOs, promotional and communication material including the websites, social media platforms, and also proposals play role in promotion of the cause. These days new innovative approaches are being used by non-profits for promotion of a social cause, like ‘Walkathons’ by NGOs like Seva Sahayog, Smile Foundation, and many others; ‘social media campaigns’ to increase awareness, while also gathering resources like funds and volunteers!
  • Place: The final P, the Place denotes the ease of access to the product for the consumer. For businesses, distribution channels and resources required are planned under this head. In case of development projects by NGOs, current CSR trends suggest that the corporate donors look for a project implementation site that is close and convenient to the donor to visit, monitor, or engage employees. However, the actual need on the ground is the first and foremost criterion to design a plan. 

Marketing, Segmentation and communication strategy for non-profits: Lessons from business organizations

Non-profits or non-government organizations (NGOs) form the ‘third sector’ of the society, as they are institutions and bodies which are neither governmental nor related to the business sector. They work towards addressing the social problems which remain largely unaddressed by the state and market, thus become the ‘voice’ of the citizens on various platforms.

Despite the good cause NGOs work for, there is a stranglehold of the government or state on their functions, especially their finances. This is primarily to ensure that the funds are actually being used for the genuine purposes. Even the donors keep an eye on the usage of funds. Thus spends on functions like ‘marketing’, ‘communication’ are seldom considered in line with the ‘objects’ of an NGO, considering the opportunity costs.

However, the point to note here is that NGOs are also working in a ‘market’, they are exposed to the various market related factors and externalities. They need mechanisms to sustain themselves, and many of the organizational and marketing principles hold good in case of NGOs too.

It is important to learn the fundamental business principles too, in order to understand their applicability in non-profit context. Non-profits need to reach out to donors to raise funds for their cause, build linkages and networks to sustain their functions and grow.

Here are some of the marketing principles which can help non-profits to achieve their goals, build effective and functional linkages with donors and to raise funds.

Segmentation:

Business organizations use the ‘segmentation’ approach to understand a consumer and then offer a proposition, which can be a product or service. They also highlight how their proposition fulfills the needs of the consumer better than that of the competitors.

With the mushrooming of NGOs, it is very important to know the donor in and out, so that you can offer your project or cause as an excellent proposition to the donor and in sync with the donor’s needs and requirements.

How can Marketing & Communications Strategies help NGOs achieve Fundraising Success

For example, if you are an organization working for health, you need to map the potential donors, say corporate donors and then approach them as per their core domains. Some of the top Indian companies that spent a huge chunk of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) funds on healthcare in 2015 are Reliance Industries, L & T, and Infosys, among others.

Communication strategies- a two-step process:

Business organizations focus on a segmented group- their target audience and use mass appeal or mass communication (one to all) accordingly. But in the case of NGOs, the focus of all the marketing and communication needs to be on a particular donor at a time (one to one). Thus it is crucial to:

  • Choose the donor carefully (you make an informed choice rather than agreeing to requirements of any donor),
  • Conduct a mapping and filtering exercise of the potential donors, and then
  • Approach the shortlisted ones.

The criteria for such a filtering will depend on the segmentation you will undertake, as explained above. But communication strategy for NGOs is in reality a two-stage process. The first stage involves mass communication strategy, by means of mailers, promotional campaigns, social media updates, and others. Now, for more specific requirements, the second stage will involve one-to-one involvement with the donor, with proposals, fund request appeals, timelines, and other relevant material.

Clear and single message:

Remember that a clear and single message in your communication strategy, which resonates with the core values, mission and vision of your organization, is of paramount importance for your every effort in this direction of communication. Communication strategies for NGOs will be discussed in detail in future articles.

How to work out a communication strategy for your non-profit:

Internet and social media are changing the information and communication realm as we used to know it. Communication has become faster than ever, but there is merit in ‘quality and quantity’ of communication rather than just the ‘quantity’. Communications for an organization can be for internal and external stakeholders. Here we will discuss the strategy for external stakeholders.

How can Marketing & Communications Strategies help NGOs achieve Fundraising Success

For non-profits, here are some tips to note before embarking on devising a communication strategy:

  1. Know your target audience:

Your communications must keep the target audience in mind, and must be designed accordingly.

  1. Clearly chalk out your goals:

What you want to convey to the target groups must be very clear to you first.

  1. Make the communication strategy a strategic one:

Most non-profit organizations design their communications built around fundraising. However, it is important to keep the overall strategy in mind, including the self-identity, focus on the target groups/ beneficiaries, and future plans.

  1. Make sure that your marketing and fundraising teams speak the same language:

Ensure that an amalgamation of the goals of cross-functional teams takes place, rather than teams working in silos. It is important to remember that communication and marketing go hand in hand.

  1. Ensure the message has the correct pitch:

Even if the primary objective of your communication plan is fundraising, no problem! Just ensure that it has the correct pitch for fund-raising- your message for the potential donor must clearly convey your requirements, goals and strategies!

  1. Make the best match of quantity and quality:

Know what to convey, when and how, and how frequently. Many organizations develop communication tools, but their efforts remain inadequate in dissemination, or fade away with time. Remember, the target audience needs to be reminded of your message, if you want it to be heard!

  1. Choose the medium carefully:

The medium must be chosen carefully and as per the target audience. The newer media of communication give the speed, flexibility, convenience and agility to your efforts, like websites, social media. Some of the conventional offline methods are reports, published material, brochures, etc. But they must be selected as per the target audience and context. For example, there is little use of your third-party evaluation reports on social media, which is much more suited for instant and simple messages, or campaigning. But, these reports are very important to be put on your website. Though all such reports form important communication material for a non-profit, but the ‘when’ and ‘how’ are equally important as ‘what’ to share!

16 Powerful Tips to Boost your Online and Offline Fundraising Efforts

This guide offers you some tips that have worked for some organizations and will surely help you to maximize your funding efforts.

Most often fundraising efforts of organizations go futile because of improper planning and lack of effective fundraising strategies. No matter how effectual an organization is in implementing field projects, they generally have to struggle when it comes to raising funds.

Fundraising forms the most important activity of any NGO to sustain and continue their efforts for social wellbeing and development. Many experts consider it to be the backbone of the nonprofit sector, which is very true, as continuous flow of funds ensures NGOs to perform effectively. Raising money is indeed a challenge, but with some help and practice you can boost up your fundraising efforts.

This guide offers you some tips that have worked for some organizations and will surely help you to maximize your funding efforts. To help you in various methods of fundraising we have divided the guide into two sections; the first section deals with tips to help with conventional fundraising methods while section two deals with tips to enhance online fundraising.

Planning is the key and that’s why do not wait till your project comes to an end

16 Powerful Tips to Boost your Online and Offline Fundraising Efforts

Section 1: Tips for enhancing conventional methods of fundraising

  1. Plan well in advance: Planning is the key and that’s why do not wait till your project comes to an end. Start planning at least a year in advance, so that you have enough time to submit application to various donors. As different donors have a funding cycle, you will not want to miss any opportunity and therefore keep enough time. You can engage team members in the fundraising exercise and allocate responsibilities for taking up different roles for example; some one can conduct donor research, while the other can develop proposals. Planning ensures that you don’t miss any deadline and all correspondence with the donor is done on a timely and proficient manner.
  2. Diversify your donors: Well if you are still stuck with traditional donors, it high time you diversify your donors. There are several new donor mechanisms in place viz. virtual funding platforms, crowd funding, CSR, individuals etc. Keep an eye on such funding windows as there is a huge potential to get funds from them. This will surely help you in engaging with multiple donors thereby enhancing your chances of funding.
  3. Share your success and impact stories with donors: Donors like to know how you have utilized their money, therefore share with them impact stories. Sharing information motivates them to support your cause in the long run. You can let the donors know that their money is being used to improve lives and with their continued support can bring about a positive change in the society.
  4. Pay special attention while writing your proposal: This is one of the most important steps towards ensuring donor engagement and receiving money from donors. The proposal should provide information on what you intend to do, what are the objectives, key activities, how will it help the cause, how much money you need etc.. As there are several organizations applying for funding, you need to develop a strong case to avail the fund. Writing a proposal forms the most important part of the fundraising plan, as it is the proposal that will decide if you will get funded or not. Some points to be kept in mind while drafting your proposal:

– Use simple and effective language to explain your proposal. Avoid using jargons and don’t be too verbose.

 – Do not make the proposal too academic by using too much facts and figures. Use facts at only relevant places eg. Describing the issue/problem and how you intend to solve it.

– Have a human pitch to your proposal, which simply means the proposal should show that your care about the issue. However do not make it overly emotional.

– Follow the guidelines, format and instructions properly.

– Clearly mention about the sustainability aspect of the project and your exit strategy from the project site.

– Make a detailed budget reflecting how you will be utilizing the funds.

– Ensure that your share relevant documents with the donor agency.

– Avoid making spelling and grammatical mistakes, so share the proposal with your colleagues and get it checked thoroughly before submitting.

  1. Face to face meetings always result in better results: These days people emphasize on new methods of fundraising like use of internet, telephone and crowd funding but no matter how much technology progresses, face to face meetings are the best way to raise funds. These interactions are the best way to communicate with donors about causes you care about  and also help you to understand donors view point and their interest. Once you get the chance to speak with a donor representative make the most of this opportunity. Some of the points to remember when meeting donors are:

– Ensure that communication is done by a person who knows about the donor agency and has good communication skills. This is your first interaction and therefore you will surely not want to ruin it.

– Introduce your organization and the work you have done in the past. However, do not waste time in narrating long stories, be precise and to the point.

– Avoid asking questions for which answers are available on their webpage and guidelines.

– Listen to them patiently as suggestions by them can help you in improving your proposal.

– Once the call/meeting comes to an end thank them for giving time, this can be done by sending them an email, immediately after your meeting or call. If they have asked for some information, provide it immediately without wasting time.

  1. Keep your financial statements and audit reports handy and available: One of the best ways to enhance donor support is through clearly stating your financial details and making it available to the donor. This will make your more accountable and credible Questions are increasingly being raised about how to make NGOs more accountable for the funds they receive and how to enhance their effectiveness and performance. This enhances your credibility in front of the donor and will make you look more professional and credible to the donor thereby increasing your chances of getting funded.
  2. Maintain a congenial relation with your existing donors: You need to maintain a good rapport with your existing donors as well. Submit all the reports, financial documents and updates with them in a timely manner. It is important that you involve them in your organization and acknowledge them for their support. Developing long term relation with the donors will certainly increase the likelihood of repeat funding.

Section 2: Tips for enhancing online fundraising efforts

With the growing use of internet globally, you should also strengthen your online fundraising efforts. Here are a few quick tips that can enhance online donations for your work.

  1. Go mobile: As more and more people use smart phones, the use of laptops and desktops will reduce considerably for internet search. In such a scenario it is advisable that you make your website mobile friendly. This way you can reach that group of donors who are active on their mobile phones all day long. Besides Google search is also configured to prefer mobile friendly pages and apps.
  2. Make sure to have a donate button visible all across the website: When you start online fundraising it is important that you add a donate button and place it appropriately on the page. You should make it visible to the people who visit your webpage so that they can easily locate it and donate an amount towards your cause. Make sure that button stands out this can be done by either making it bright, colorful or bold. Some organizations also integrate the donate button on all pages of the website, this is done so that the visitor can hit the donate button anytime while navigating through your website. Develop a page that has a strong story/ case which would compel the donors to support your cause.
  3. Share your impact stories on your webpage and monthly newsletter: You can attract more donors by regularly updating your website. Many organizations also send monthly updates to all their donors stating the new events and activities undertaken for a particular cause. This helps you to stay connected with your donors.
  4. Provide donors options: While making your donation page, make sure to provide donors with multiple options to support your cause. These options can be in the form of ways to support your cause like: in kind donation, volunteer support etc.. or you can provide giving amount options example : 5$, 10$, 50$ etc.. This would ensure that interested donors not only provide money but also get associated with your organization for a long period. Research also reveals that giving amount options leads to improved donation.
  5. Use compelling imagery: Visual images always create a long lasting impact on humans and therefore use images that compel the donors to support your cause. It is very important to select images wisely because you want the donor to get a clear message from the image without having to read the details. Use relevant imagery that clearly indicates to the donors what you are raising funds for. Remember not to clutter the page with too many images, use only few images that convey a strong message.
  6. Use statistics to show results: many organizations have improved their fundraising performance through the use of data. You can use charts, graphs and figures on your donation page to represent important information for donors. You can show the current status through a status bar representing how far you have reached towards achieving your goal. You can also use data to show how money from donors has impacted lives.
  7. Make sure to secure online transactions: Financial transactions have become commonplace on the internet, but people still like to know that you’re taking the appropriate precautions to ensure their information is secure. Financial safety and security is one of the major turnoff for a potential investor/donor. Ensure that the payment gateway used is authentic and has additional security protocols such as secure pages and 128 bit encryption. This can be a confidence booster for many investors.
  8. Make the process of payment easy: Do not complicate the process of donation. Make the forms easy to understand and ask for information that is relevant. Complicated payment mechanisms and lengthy forms deter donors. Try to make payment process simple and then take the donor to pages where additional details are required.

Acknowledge your donors: Another great tip for both conventional and online fund raising is acknowledging your donors. Send thank you messages, share the names of your supporters in blogs, web pages and newsletters, this motivates donors to continue their support. Some leading organizations also send gifts to the donors as a thank you gesture.

Incorporating the above mentioned tips in your fundraising effort will surely boost up your performance and will help you engage with many donors. Just remember that these tips can help you in improving your performance and if you don’t get immediate results do not lose hope but instead keep trying and integrate the above-mentioned tips in your routine.