Nonprofits can use startup methodology to innovate fundraising, marketing and community-building. It’s becoming an increasing conversation nonprofits are having to figure out new revenue streams and growth opportunities.
Here are six ways nonprofits can shake things up for the better using startup methodology:
TEST — Out are the days of creating one ad, one flyer, one marketing piece and sticking to it. To make sure that your marketing channels are effective, you have to test its results. Does a different design or color scheme offer better results? The only way to know is to test and track, modify based on evidence and test again. Before you know it, you’ll know exactly how to reach your target audience and speak their language.
SELL — What does your organization do really well and how can you capitalize on it? Nonprofits need to diversify revenue streams. And here’s a tip, it’s OK to put on your business hat and consider what services and/or products you can put up for sale. Just remember to make sure you’re not blurring any lines that would endanger your nonprofit status. Anything you sell should be connected to your mission, for more details on how to do this right, click here. Getting a jump on using startup methodology for your nonprofit will increase your bottom line.
TRACK — No more winging it. Do you know how many event signup emails you have to send for 25% of your audience to signup? How about the average number of touches it takes to get potential volunteers to take action? Keeping track of your data, and coupling it with regular data evaluation not only brings efficiency, it saves time. If you know it takes three email reminders for 30% of your audience to take action, you can save time by pre-scheduling those emails ahead of time. You’ll begin to notice things like most website visitors click on these types of blog posts before they hit the donate button, which is an indicator to increase those types of blog posts. Track, evaluate and adjust to get more of the results you desire.
CONVERSE — Surveys are great, but in order to get real feedback from your target audience, you have to talk to them. Customer development interviews are a fantastic way to intimately connect with your audience to get feedback on your programs and services, see holes in your systems and strengthen connections within your community. Not sure where to begin? This is a great place to get started with your interviews.
COLLABORATE — Don’t be afraid to pair up with another nonprofit. GASP! Great marketing, fundraising and publicity opportunities are abound for organizations who decide to come together to host an event or collaborate on a project, especially if your target audiences intersect.
INNOVATE — There should always be time for you and your team to sit down and throw out new ideas. It’s not a time to say ‘that won’t work,’ ‘we can’t afford it’ or ‘there’s no way to pull that off.’ It’s a time to free flow with creativity and think of new strategies to tackle old problems, refresh systems and dream about what’s possible. Write down all ideas on a white board. Think big and bold. Return the following week with one or two possibilities from the session and, as a team, think about how you can make it a reality. The only way to grow is to go beyond what you’re currently doing.
Around age eight Natasha Zena was told it was a woman’s job to take care of the home and since then she has built a career out of telling women they can do whatever the hell they want to do. She is the co-founder of Lioness, the go-to news source for everything female entrepreneur. Natasha was recognized as an emerging leader in digital media by The Poynter Institute and the National Association of Black Journalists. She has mentored women entrepreneurs and moderated panels at a number of national accelerators, Startup Weekends and conferences such as The Lean Startup Conference, the Massachusetts Conference for Women, Women Empower Expo and Smart Cities Connect. Natasha is also the author of the popular whitepaper, "How To Close The Gender Gap In Startup Land By 2021." In her spare time, she writes short fiction and hangs out with her son, Shaun.