Embrace Your Nonprofit Development Beast
by Ira Jackson
One of the markets we specialize in serving at Perfect Image is the nonprofit sector. Your needs are unique and must be fully understood by everyone, both internally and externally, who supports your outreach efforts. Having worked with nonprofits for more than 25 years as a communications partner, I recognize that organizations face growing challenges in attracting funding and retaining donors. Changing times are putting the spotlight on development. Here are some universal truths worth considering.
After learning how Perfect Image manages development activity, one of my colleagues in the marketing and creative industry exclaimed, “You are a beast!” He was stunned by our process of tracking and measuring phone sales calls, client visits, written correspondence and the quotes we submit. For me personally, this involves five phone calls daily to existing and prospective clients, and a similar number of weekly face-to-face meetings.
We want happy endings. This means good beginnings. As everyone in development knows, effective development begins with setting objectives and supporting them with planned activities and measurements that yield and sustain desired results. This is a proven path to growth and success for any organization.
Development is no fairy tale
I’ve been in professional sales for more than three decades and I love what I do more today than when I started. I’m also realistic. Development is as real-world as it gets. It made a difference that I was trained by the finest managers and mentors, and as a result, I’m passionate about paying it forward by sharing what I have learned.
Early on I learned there is indeed an art to sales, and an equal measure of science.
What gets measured gets managed. Measuring is the science of development, and it is extremely relevant for today’s nonprofits. Think of it as your internal development beast. As mentioned, the fundamentals begin with setting objectives and following on with planned activities that will yield and sustain results. If you would like to see an example of how to do this, send an e-mail to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Look beyond the beast to see the beauty
Using internal metrics is critical. However, whether metrics represent revenue, funding, marketing results or volunteer recruitment, they actually have little to do with real market needs. Whatever we are selling – support for humanitarian causes, answers to societal needs, or in my case, great printing and marketing support solutions – our development metrics are simply not important to our constituents. What do our constituents value?
As said with great clarity by management sage Peter Drucker: …what the customer buys and considers value is never a product. It is always utility, that is, what a product or service does for him or her.
So, while there is certainly a science to development, the real beauty and key to our success is found in understanding what donors, fundraising partners, volunteers and clients need, and providing meaningful answers.
The road to happily ever after
Many development successes at Perfect Image are the ones in which we awaken nonprofit organizations to our value promise to be More than a printer. We know that managing print can be a beast of a burden for nonprofits, so we make it an easier and better experience.
For example, nonprofits operate with limited human resources and budgets. They need a second set of eyes to help protect brand integrity. They need outside creative resources for their projects, and in today’s digital world, they need a partner that is adept at integrating print with email, video, social and web to enhance campaign results. Many also need a printer that can manage mailing and distribution, because this frees them up to focus on what they do best.
Our development efforts address these needs because answering them eases our clients’ burdens and helps them build more extraordinary brands.
What is important to your existing and prospective donors, fundraising partners and volunteers?
Use development to break spells (preconceived notions)
In development, sometimes we need to help others unlearn what they think they know about us. For example, it’s not enough for us at Perfect Image to say we are a marketing support partner, not just a printer. Even though we leverage what we know from serving some of the nation’s most focused brands, such as Bank of America, Coca-Cola, Macy’s and UPS, we must raze walls to impart how we do it.
One misconception we encounter is that our big brand approach to service and support is neither realistic nor affordable for smaller organizations with limited budgets. We drive out this perception with resonating truth: Nonprofit organizations have precisely the same needs as large corporations, and big brand service does not break the budgets of today’s nonprofits. We use development to dispel this notion, just as we use it to break the spell that printers only print, and cannot adapt to the realities of a multichannel marketplace.
What differentiates your organization from others, and what mistaken impressions or competitive challenges do you need to expel?
Happy endings in development start with setting objectives and using activities to measure effectiveness. This is your inner beast. Successful development also relies on understanding constituent needs and focusing development on providing answers. This is the beauty of it all. Embrace them both, because development is a tale in which the beauty and beast co-exist in perfect harmony.
If you need a printer that understands your stake in development, contact Perfect Image. We are More than a printer, and we aim to help you succeed.