We've talked about it before - more and more, associations and nonprofits are applying business lessons and practices to how they approach fundraising and membership. For some, this might be a hard pill to swallow, as nonprofits have historically been "above" using corporate tactics to get ahead. Yet, in a struggling economy where every association and nonprofit is competing for hard-earned dollars, it makes a lot of sense to tackle projects with a business savvy mindset:
• Approach your membership drives like a sales cycle. Think about how you purchase other things - it often takes a few commercials, or a few ads, or a few emails, for you to both make the decision - and remember to do so! Realize that one email campaign or direct mailer isn't going to be enough. Give potential members a few different ways to see your information.
• Use an organized system or method to track member and donor engagement. There are plenty of software systems out there that exist for this purpose - being able to record when and how interactions happen, as well as set out goals for re-engaging with people in the future. Don't rely on calendar requests, excel sheets, or simple pad and paper - come up with an organized method of ensuring that you're not letting leads slip through the cracks. Sometimes, simply remembering to send an email keeps your cause in the forefront of people's minds.
• Ask for referrals - in every way. Have an active member? Ask them to bring colleagues. A repeat donor? Find out what other associations they're involved with, and who supports them. Sometimes simply asking is enough.
• Reports, reports, reports. In business, you're often only as good as your numbers - this concept can help tremendously with an association's bottom line. Get reports on how you're getting new members, where you're spending money, budgets from year to year. The old saying goes, "if you can't measure it, you can't manage it" and we think this applies directly to your association's success.
Can you think of any other ways your business experience can or has proved handy for your association?