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.
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.