THREE MAJOR NONPROFIT TRENDS FOR 2017

by Gloria Horsley

Dr. Gloria Horsley is Founder of Open to Hope Foundation, a community where people can find hope after loss through forums and more.

(Republished from Forbes.com. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.)

From operations and technology to marketing and fundraising, there are many trends shaping the nonprofit sector that I’ve seen firsthand at my own foundation and in the strategy we’ve laid out to achieve in 2016.

It’s important to start looking ahead to the new year when you are in the throes of annual budget planning. With that in mind, here are some of the areas our organization is focusing on based on key trends that your nonprofit may also want to consider:

Humanize Your Marketing

Many marketing trends for traditional businesses have become important for nonprofits too, which also need to improve engagement with their audiences and donors. While we have to be sensitive in terms of the stories we share, storytelling will become one of the most important marketing tools for us in 2017 because it provides a way to connect with the emotions that help drive donor engagement and ongoing support. Our audience is then able to feel how they are assisting those that come to our nonprofit for help and that then drives them to continue providing financial support and  time.

Live streaming video is a great way to tell these stories as well, using Periscope, YouTube Live, and Facebook Live. Another approach for this authentic storytelling is user-generated content. We plan to make this an even larger portion of our content marketing in 2017 just for the very fact that it offers a way to personalize those stories and have them resonate more with our audience.

Influencer marketing will also take on a larger role, as we can rally advocates of our nonprofit organization to endorse what we are doing with their social circles. The result is that the trust that these circles place in these influencers can move them to act and become donors and volunteers themselves. Next year will be about identifying those influencers and then building up relationships with them to create awareness.

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Use Mobile Technology To Simplify Donations

Mobile is a favorite of our donors, just as it is for many people when they are looking to communicate and participate with others. That’s why we plan on using more mobile communication, particularly with emails that now tend to be opened more often on a smartphone or tablet versus anywhere else. We are also planning on taking advantage of integrating a payment button directly into our emails to increase donations. This idea may be taken a step further, as another new trend is accepting payments through social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat.

Combined with a greater use of mobile wallets among our donors, we believe 2017 may deliver increased donations if we leverage all this technology and offer it so the ease of use stimulates the willingness to give more money more often.

Seek Fresh Perspectives And A Human Connection

One of our main goals in 2017 is the trend to look year round for board members that can provide fundraising and networking expertise. Specifically, we’re looking to millennials and Generation Xers who are focused on social causes and are well-connected with others who are passionate about social good. We’ve started focusing on both groups within our donor pools and using networking sites to identify candidates who can provide a fresh perspective to our board.

With all the online opportunities we have available to us, it’s easy to think that technology is the only way, but the need for authenticity in 2017 also means a return to the basics and a focus on the humanistic aspect of being and running a nonprofit. For my organization, this back-to-basics approach is focused on creating a culture that is in touch with human emotions and is run by a skilled staff that is enthusiastic about what we are trying to do. Our focus will also involve personal contact with our donors, including in person and by phone, to make that human connection even stronger and more authentic.

BIG CHANGES FOR SD&A IN ATLANTA

We are pleased to announce that our Atlanta-based phone room, Arts Telecenter East, will soon be moving. The new and improved ATC East will open in January in the heart of downtown Atlanta’s Fairlie-Poplar district, close to Centennial Park, the Rialto Center for the Arts and the Balzer Theater at Herren’s.

Located in a historic building constructed in 1930, our new space is larger and much nicer than our current phone room. It will be equipped with the latest phone technology, offering us increased capacity and greater efficiency.

SD&A operates two Arts Telecenters: ATC East in Atlanta and ATC West in Los Angeles. These intimate, fully computerized, “boutique” phone rooms emulate the proven, on-site campaign model that has been generating revenue for SD&A clients since 1983. Supervised by experienced campaign managers and staffed by callers who are expertly versed in the arts, ATC campaigns provide a solution for arts organizations that are unable to host an on-site campaign.

Greenpeace Sails Ahead with Help from SD&A Fundraisers

SD&A’s National Call Center now handles a large portion of Greenpeace’s calling programs, and we are also developing new monthly programs for the organization, including cold calls, welcome thank you calls to new monthly givers, and outreach calls to current sustainers to dissuade them from cancelling their monthly gifts. At any given moment, there are 12 to 17 active Greenpeace campaigns running on our dialer!

Greenpeace is the leading independent campaigning organization that uses peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and to promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.

HOLISTIC CUSTOMER SERVICE: DON’T JUST MAKE SALES; MAKE CUSTOMERS FOR LIFE.

Ilonka Salisbury, a customer service expert with over 30 years of experience training fundraising and marketing professionals at some of the nation’s largest performing arts organizations, has teamed up with SD&A to conduct specialized training workshops in the art of Holistic Customer Service, a technique that transforms the effectiveness of, the cohesion between, and the very essence of outbound calls, inbound calls, and face-to-face interactions with patrons at the box office.

Experience tells us that arts organizations can create new customers and increase sales through relationship building and conversation. This is Ilonka Salisbury’s core focus and area of expertise. “Don’t just make sales,” she instructs.  “Make customers for life.”

Holistic Customer Service emphasizes empathy and personalized connections based on the commonalities that make us human. Kindness, graciousness and gratitude are the guiding principles of this methodology. It is rooted in the simple notion that all of us, no matter who we are, respond positively to being treated with respect, and consequently, wish to continue being a part of any such relationship.

Our training workshops are customized to align with your specific organizational goals. The tools that your representatives will be given are not scripted responses; rather, our workshops offer intuitive insight into how your representatives can tap into their own natural instincts to best serve the needs of the patron and the organization.

Through in-depth, in-person training sessions, your representatives will learn how to:

  • employ empathy to build a bridge in every conversation.
  • follow an effective “road map” to help guide the conversation.
  • remove the stigmas associated with sales and telemarketing.
  • be caring, helpful and delightful ambassadors for your organization.
  • understand who they are speaking with (and when to use or not use jargon).
  • develop the patience required to let customers say whatever they need or want to say.
  • pick up on the subtleties of the dialogue instead of diving right into the sale (by listening to what patrons are not saying).
  • use positive, engaging and active language versus passive language.
  • answer questions without sounding obnoxious or off-putting.
  • eliminate inhibitions.
  • effectively diffuse a conversation if it escalates.
  • strengthen their attentiveness, knowledge of the product, and passion for it.

Our training workshops are designed to give your organization a working foundation in the philosophies and best practices of Holistic Customer Service, which can be used for the ongoing training of current representatives and for future hires as well.

For additional information, contact:

Mary Jane Avans  |  mjavans@sdatel.com  |  (678) 904-1583