Ep 230 | Building Your Marketing Around Your Fundraising Plan

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Do you plan your marketing first or your fundraising first? For me, the answer is always your sales or fundraising goal. Marketing is meant to support your organizational goals. Don't get lost in the trap of working in silos where one isn't supporting the other!

What you'll learn:

→ why your fundraising plan comes first.
→ how data can help drive decisions.
→ pay attention to audiences.
→ creating a culture of communication.

Want to skip ahead? Here are key takeaways:

[2:09] Build your fundraising plan first. When they know the goals that are laid out it makes it easier for marketers to put their plan together. This also helps to ensure that priority is giving to the activities that are going to support the revenue streams the organization is prioritizing.
[2:39] Ask for the right data to support the financial goals. Building your goals around true data will also help you create financial goals that are attainable. This data can come from your donor data in your CRM as well as your marketing data sources like social media or your website analytics.
[4:46] Create your plan based around your target audience. For example, are you focusing on corporate sponsors, increasing grant dollars, bring in new monthly donors, etc. This is again about prioritizing the activities you do.
[12:40] Maintain open lines of communication. As the plan starts moving forward, make sure both sides are communication what's working and what's not. As funds come in it's important to strategize on areas you might need to pivot or what areas you need to double down on.


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Full Transcript

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Which came first? The chicken or the egg, right? The common phrase. So when it comes to putting your marketing plan together, do you start with your marketing plan before your fundraising plan? Or do you start with your fundraising plan and then move to your marketing plan. So that's what we're going to talk about in this episode, and give you some strategies for as you're planning for your next year's goals, how you can use them together to really make sure you're working as a cohesive team, whether that's you internally how you're prioritizing stuff, or working with volunteers or whatnot, we're going to talk through some strategies for how to create your marketing plan as it relates to your fundraising goals. So if that's something that you're working on right now, or gearing up to work on, or maybe you've already started the process, and you're just feeling a little bit stuck with what to even put in for your marketing. This is the episode for you. So I hope that you enjoy it and walk away with some strategies that can help support you in your organization.

But before we get into the strategies, this episode is brought to you by our digital marketing therapy session. So if you need somebody to help you walk through some of the elements with regards to your fundraising plan, and how it relates to marketing, you can book these 30 minute sessions with me, and we can walk through it together, you can do that at https://thefirstclick.net/officehours. But we can also talk about anything that you're stuck on in your digital marketing, planning or in your urine campaign, whatever it is that you need work on. I'm here for it. So again, that's https://thefirstclick.net/officehours. Let's get into the episode.

[Intro] You're listening to the digital marketing therapy podcast. I'm your host, Sami Bedell-Mulhern. Each month we dive deep into a digital marketing or fundraising strategy that you can implement in your organization. Each week, you'll hear from guest experts, nonprofits, and myself on best practices, tips and resources to help you raise more money online and reach your organizational goals.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] So really, if you think about it, your marketing exists to help support your fundraising or sales. So even things that are programmatic for you, if you sell tickets, if you're doing enrollment for programs, all of that good stuff. Marketing is here to support that. And so I think it's important as an organization to really start with your fundraising goals or your programmatic goals first, and then engineer your marketing strategies around that. Now, we can flip that around. Also, as you're creating your fundraising strategies you can reach out to and rely on your marketing data that you've been collecting to help inform those decisions, as well as the decisions from within your CRM. So whatever your plan is, for existing donors, you might pull all of that information out of your CRM as far as averages and numbers and donors and average gift size and all of that stuff. When it comes to acquiring new donors, you might take a look at your marketing data from the last year, whether it's social media or email, like what types of content were people really excited about? Really refining who your ideal audience is thinking about, where maybe there's new locations that people are popping up on your website from? Maybe you know, you're based in one state, but when you look at your analytics, you see that the second state is, I don't know, maybe you're based in Minnesota, and the second state with the highest traffic to your website is California. So maybe, then we're thinking about, Okay, well, how can we target people in California? How do we grow that base, things like that. So the data from your marketing can be sent with specific questions to your fundraising team to figure out exactly kind of how that plays into maybe untapped sources or new audiences. That might be helpful as they're setting goals for for new donors and things like that. So when you have your fundraising plan in place, then together, the marketing team and the fundraising team can take a look at the elements that are included in that. So there are certain things that marketing might not have anything to do with or maybe they will, maybe you're going really heavy into a grant writing phase of your organization. So maybe that means then that marketing needs to step in and help write language, help draft copy, things of that nature. Maybe you are going to put a focus on donor retention, maybe your donor retention numbers aren't where you want them to be, and you want to increase that. And marketing knows, okay, this is some strategies that we can do to help with the donor retention piece, right? Maybe you're targeting corporate sponsors, whatever is the priority for the fundraising side of things then can direct marketing and where they need to prioritize, because look, we can be doing all the things we can be on all All those social media platforms we can be on, you know, on email, we can be updating our website, we can, you know, be sending out tons of direct mail pieces, we can be doing all the things, but you don't have time for all the things. And so we really want to focus our marketing efforts in 2024, where we have the lowest hanging fruit, and where our audience lives. Now, we can always layer in more things on top of that, we can grow, we can put in, you know, different elements of things that we want to include in the future. But really, if we go with what are the goals that we have on the fundraising side of the organization, how can we help get those goals, then your marketing team is going to be able to really prioritize the tasks and the work that they do. Now, this could look different than what you're doing currently. Because maybe you didn't take this approach in 2023. And that's totally fine. If you go silent from social media for a little bit, it's not going to kill your business, right? I've done it, do it all the time. You know, you want to make sure that you're making the biggest impact where you need it in order to hit the goals that your fundraising team has in place. So what does that look like? Now we want to make sure that the website is in alignment with what the fundraising team is doing. So they may have specific messaging around campaigns, they may have specific programs, or opportunities that they're really trying to fund. You know, the program team might be giving you specific things that they're trying to grow and expand on. So thinking about what is the avenue to get you there the fastest. So let's just take donor retention. As a example. Let's say you're, you have a goal in the fundraising side, let's say they've determined that if they can just retain 10% more donors in 2024, than they did in 2023. At the same giving levels, then that would increase revenue by 20%. Right, let's just throw out generic stuff. So now your marketing team can kind of say, Okay, I know exactly how to message this, we can create an email sequence, we can create a reengagement campaign, we can make sure that the social media posts that we're sending out are specific to some of the things that we know that our donors that give multiple times care about yada, yada, yada, right, they can come up with that strategy, that can also then take a look at the fundraising goals that you have, and the priorities that you have, and really give you thoughtful feedback on, here's what we can accomplish. And here's what we, here's what will be next. And here's what will be next. It's all about timing, and it's all about focus. So we don't want to try to do all the things at once, right? If you have a goal of getting eight grants, eight new grants next year, and we're going to get 100 new individual donors, and we're going to retain 20% More of our existing donors than we did last year. That doesn't mean all of those need to hit right out of the gate, right? That doesn't mean that the marketing team needs to start January one with like blasting all of those messages at the same time. It's impossible, and it's gonna get confusing. So prioritizing the timing of some of those things is going to be really critical. So what do we need to do right away in January? What's going to make the biggest impact, right? Maybe it is reap, that's when the retention piece starts, and we're going to start reaching out to people, you know, maybe it's like, okay, well, now we're gonna send a letter out to people that we know, hit our demographic that aren't current donors, we're gonna, you know, what does that timeline look like? So really being clear about the numbers and the priorities, and the order with which your things go out is going to be helpful. Now, the other thing that I want to mention is making sure that you are tracking data as it relates to these goals, so that you have it for the next year, right? And so if you don't have some of these numbers that I've talked about, and you're kind of flying blind, and you're just saying, Okay, well, these are the goals that we've set to now, we just got to figure out how to get there. Totally fine. Every organization is at different phases of their fundraising and business space. So make sure you make it a priority to create those spreadsheets and to start tracking that data so that you have that information the next time or at the end of the year when you go into 2025 planning. Just terrifying, I know to think about but you have that data that you've tracked, so that you can pay attention to what is going to be a more thoughtful or expected goal or increase in the in the next year. So for example, maybe you have, you know, you know about your individual donors, how much they gave it aggregate, but you don't really have good ways to break down kind of the different levels of giving and how you can increase those dollar amounts over time, right. Maybe you're just starting a monthly giving campaign and so you don't have any data to track. That's totally fine. Make sure you're tracking when we sent this email All this increased, when we sent this social media posts, we got this kind of engagement video did better than steal whatever it might be for your organization, pay attention, start with small points of data and increase it over time so that you have a more robust look at how your marketing is impacting fundraising. So that, again, like I mentioned at the beginning, when you're doing your fundraising planning, the marketing team can provide you the data to support the percentages of increase or growth. This is super helpful, because a lot of times in nonprofit, we tend to work through some of these numbers and some of these things with motion, whether it be well, we have a limited belief mindset. So we don't think we're going to be able to raise that much more money. But if you took a look at the trends over time, you would see that, you know, maybe your goal isn't as high as it could be right, realistically speaking. Or maybe you're just so darn excited about a new program that you have next year that you throw out this lofty number, right, whether it's number of attendees or money raised from it. And it's just something that your team can't achieve based off of the size of your list, or the size of your audience. So the data can really protect you as the fundraiser you as the development professor, professor, professional, maybe you're maybe you should be a development professor, you as the EDI or whatever board president depending on the size of your organization, that data can really protect you to make sure you're making thoughtful decisions. And then also set up your marketing team for success because they know the parameters with which they're working. Now, the last piece that I kind of want to mention when it comes to planning and the fundraising in the marketing side of things, is a lot of times marketing expenses outside of your person aren't included. So also think about some things that you might want to layer in to help increase your goals or increase the number. So for example, you know, maybe you want to invest this year in somebody to

take care of your Google Ad Grant, right, the Ad grant is free, it's $10,000 a month in advertising that you can use. But oftentimes, in order to be successful, it's not a skill set that you can do internally. So you might need to hire somebody to do that. But this is a really easy thing to track, right? So say you spend $500 a month on somebody to manage your Ad Grants. But but your your revenue, your new revenue, or new donors or, you know, audiences coming in increases by $1,000 A month or even $750 a month, right? So you've paid for that person plus making additional money off it. That's a great investment. Now, some things take a little bit of time to get going. So I'm not trying to suggest that just because you run Google ads, your revenue is going to multiply quickly. But thinking about those strategies, are radio ads going to be impactful. If you have a very specific geographical area, is it time to start running social media ads, you know, all of those things on the marketing side are going to directly impact your programs, and fundraising, but again, needing to have plans in place for exactly what the goal is for that expense. And how are we tracking the ROI? So instead of just blindly going out and saying, Okay, well, we need more people. So we're just going to do this, being thoughtful about the reasons why you're doing it, so that you can set yourself up for success that is super critical. So the other thing I really want to mention here is that throughout the year, your fundraising and marketing teams need to be in constant communication, because things are gonna change, you might have an event that blows your goal out of the water. And now all of a sudden, you have a little bit of extra, I say extra in quotes, because there never really seems to be extra. If there is it usually gets spent right away. But maybe you have a little extra revenue. So what does that look like? Do we need to shift things this way or that way? Maybe you have things that aren't coming together exactly like you wanted, your marketing team needs to know that ASAP. So they can shift some of the language, they can change what's coming out in emails, they can update some of the things in social media or push different things in different topics. Maybe they're writing different blog posts to support different things of brand awareness that need to be addressed, right. So really making sure that there's constant communication between your marketing and your fundraising team a little bit easier if it's all just you, but pay attention. Just because your marketing team has a plan and is continuing to go down that plan doesn't mean they can't pivot and flip and kind of shift some of the things that are happening. Maybe it's a banner on your website page that needs to change. They'll have that brain if you say this is something that we really are doing really well. We want to celebrate. We want to promote this amazing win or this is somewhere where we're struggling. We're not seeing what we need to see here. Don't feel like you have to come up with all of that on your own. Bring it to the marketing people that are supporting your organization and let them brainstorm some solutions. Our brains all work differently, and we're all here to problem solve differently. So even if it's a volunteer or somebody in your circle that you know, has a marketing mind, utilize them, brainstorm with them, have conversation with them, create a network of other people that are in nonprofit that are in a similar size organization, like you bounce ideas off of them, even if they're not in the same serving the same community, it can be a great way for you to learn and come up with new ideas that are going to help you bridge that gap of your fundraising versus just sending out a letter or an appeal saying, we have to raise $100,000 in 30 days, or we don't exist anymore, right? We've all gotten those emails, we've all gotten those letters. And I think there's a lot better ways to do that. And your marketing, support teams can help you with that, for sure. So really think about your fundraising goals. First, for 2024. As a fundraiser, prioritize, or even if it's not prioritized kind of calendar out the seasons, you know, q1, this is going to be our bigger focus, q2 is more event heavy q3, we're kind of in a low while we're gearing up for you know, urine giving. So we want to focus on these types of things. I think giving that to your marketing team can be really helpful so that they can come back with you come back to you with a plan for how they're going to help you execute, and help help support you in the work that you're doing. Now, as we are wrapping up this year, and putting these plans in place, it's also going to be helpful to understand your staffing and your capacity. So it could be Hey, we can do A, B and C. But D, we can't do yet unless we have an extra person because we just don't have the space for that, then you can evaluate Okay, well, if we had that extra person to do that work, what would that look like for cash flow? What would that look like for our ability to increase our donations faster, you can then really kind of brainstorm as opposed to a marketing person or a fundraiser just saying, well, we don't have enough people, well, we don't have enough people to do what. So being specific, and having those two plans all put together that you know are working towards each other, it's going to help you really identify where you might have gaps in your staff, legitimate gaps. We know there's never enough time in the day, we know that you're not going to be able to hit all the things. So be real with yourself about maybe what you need to do also be real with, are there things that you just don't want to do? And how can we kind of pull all of that together. Because I know in marketing, I do this too, we tend to do the things that we want to do that are fun for us. And not some of the tedious things like data tracking that we don't necessarily want to do, but we know make a big impact on our business. So be real with yourself there. And let's get this done. So set a meeting with your fundraising and marketing teams, start the brainstorm, start figuring out exactly where you're headed, where you're going, and create a streamline consistent back and forth communication between both sides, even if it's a board committee, and staff like really be clear about what you're trying to do this year to make sure communication is flowing, so that you can push out as much information to your potential and current existing audiences to hit those fundraising goals. Because that way you're going to be able to multiply your impact increase your impact, and 2024 is going to be an amazing year. I know it's going to be for all of you. So hope this was helpful.

Make sure you subscribe wherever you're listening to this episode, whether it's on YouTube or Apple podcast or Google Play or whatnot. Make sure you subscribe so you don't miss out on a single episode. We do have bonus episodes that dropped and that's the only way to know that they are here. And if you could leave me a review, leave me a review. It really helps us get in front of more people that are struggling and needing digital marketing support for their nonprofit organization as well. shownotes will be available for this episode at https://thefirstclick.net/230 And thank you so much for listening. I will see you in the next one.

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