Strong Foundation

Heart For Impact, But No Head For Finances?

Quick note: During the summer, we'll only be publishing one blog post per month as we focus on some new activities and allow you some down time without falling behind on content.

Last month I celebrated three years as a small business owner. That’s right, Signify turned three!

It’s been quite the ride! Lots of highs and lots of lows. And lots of lessons learned—many of them the hard way.

In fact, the past year in particular has been a real doozy.

I’ve heard it said that entrepreneurship is a great way to magnify both your strengths and weaknesses as an individual. I’d say that’s pretty accurate.

For me, it’s had a lot to do with money.

The Many Sides of Money

What I’m discovering is that it’s not just about making, managing, or saving money, but the mental game of money (though the other things are super important, too). But in the category of “you don’t know what you don’t know,” I don’t think I understood how I actually interacted with money on all levels, and how that influenced the daily running of Signify.

My emotions, notions, preconceived ideas, and subconscious thinking have all played out in ways that I never imagined.

You see, I’ve always been very clear with my friends, clients, and tribe that I am someone who took a skill I had and monetized it. I wasn't someone that had a head for business and numbers, and decided what to do from there.

Signify has always been a way for me to professionally support the people and causes I already supported personally.

So, in a lot of ways, I’ve been playing catchup with the mental hangups about money that I’ve had all my life. And it’s cost me both literally and figuratively. It’s also made me less confident as a small business owner. In fact, I’ve wondered many times if I’m actually cut out to do this.

The self-doubt, negative self-talk, and anxiety make it hard to serve others. It’s difficult to make an impact when you’re worried about making rent.

To quote Kanye West, “Having money’s not everything, but not having it is.”

The truth is, we need money to keep the doors open, the lights on, and to further our causes. And if you don’t develop a better relationship with money, you’ll never make the kind of progress you’d like.

By the way, that goes for whether you have a bunch of cash in the bank or not. A scarcity mindset can do just as much damage as the lack of ability to mange money. Either way you slice it, that puts your nonprofit, social enterprise, or small business in a bind that can be hard to get out of.

These are the kinds of things I’ve been wrestling with over the past year. And, though I’m still learning, I’m getting better.

Enter Shanna Skidmore

I watched her webinar in January of this year, and just knew I needed to learn from her. Why? She actually made me feel like I could learn the business and finance side of running my business.

That, my friends, is empowering.

Feeling completely unqualified to run a business is no way to run a business at all.

And, like me, many nonprofit and social enterprise founders launched their organizations because they want to make an impact. It’s not that they necessarily want to run a business. Sure, that can also have its perks, but mostly, we just want to do our good work.

However, running a business means asking for money, whether that’s through a sale or a donation. So, it’s important to not only learn to manage the money well, but truly understand its value to your organization and cause. When you can do both of those things, you can more effectively grow and scale.

This is just some of the hard and necessary work I’ve been doing this year.

If this sounds like something you need to work on as well, then join me for Shanna’s last ever masterclass this Thursday, August 8th, at 1:30 p.m. EST.

That’s right, this will be the final time she gives her behind-the-scenes peek at how she built a multi six-figure business. I’ve learned so much from her this year, so I’ll be there, and hope you’ll join me.

We are now in the latter half of 2019. Don’t let another six months or year pass before you start dealing with your own money mindset and business finances. Your cause is too important for that.

A note from Shanna

“It is possible for women to make money doing what they love, create flexible schedules so they can be present mamas and friends, decrease the clutter and chaos that comes with building a business, and trade all that in for a life-enriching business!

For the past 13 years, I’ve been helping business owners understand their finances and build profitable and sustainable businesses. It’s what I do! My journey began as a Fortune 100 Financial Advisor and morphed into starting my own management consulting firm seven years ago.

And for the last time, I’ll be teaching my free masterclass, “How I Built a Six-Figure Business.”

Wondering if I’m the right teacher for you? I am if you’re dealing with problems like:

- Hustle with no results

- Client stress (pricing, always wanting more)

- Talking to customers and donors about money

- Overwhelm!!!!!

- Inability to financially plan well

- The feeling of being poor

- Fear about what to do next

- Living paycheck to paycheck

- Stress (with money and time)

I’m not going to share some complicated MBA program, but instead, what I believe are business fundamentals. Financial principles you don’t have to be a CPA to understand. Marketing concepts you don’t have to have a degree or tech wizard to implement, and success psychology you don’t have to pay a therapist to study. 

This is all something you, me, and our entrepreneur friends are all capable of doing—with a roadmap, of course! 

Let’s do this!”


Sounds good, right? Please consider joining Shanna for her final (and free) masterclass, “How To Build a Six-Figure Business With Less Than 5,000 Followers,” on August 8th. I’ll be there, too!

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of great business and financial coaches out there. And it’s important to find the people from you can learn from. However, if you've always struggled with numbers and finances, then I’d encourage you to tune in.

I’ve learned bits and pieces from other gurus in-person and online, but Shanna is one of the only people to break business and financial principles down in a way that actually makes sense to me. And that’s a huge benefit because gaining understanding gives you the confidence that you need to make bigger breakthroughs you business.

Quick Note For Nonprofits

While Shanna’s content is mostly geared for female entrepreneurs of for-profit businesses, nonprofit founders have also found success with Shanna’s methods. In fact, here’s a testimonial from Signify community member and nonprofit founder, Chantel Adams.

"Shanna’s Blueprint Model gave me clarity on not only why I’m doing the work I’m doing, but also how I'm going to move forward to make it successful.

For years, I thought my core motivator was IMPACT, but she helped me discover that my real motivator is CREATIVE EXPRESSION. All that time I wasted trying to prove that the work I did mattered, when the reality is that work that flows from your identity IS the work that truly matters.

I have more energy, ideas, and focus than ever before!”

So, you may have to do some creative thinking with some of her principles in how they relate to your nonprofit, but it can be done. And if you struggle with some of the problems above, I guarantee you’ll still find value in Shanna’s teaching.

Shanna’s a smart cookie, and has helped me in my business tremendously, so I hope you’ll give her a chance. And, really, what have you got to lose?

NOTE: Shanna’s webinar has passed, but you can watch the reply here, or if you’d like to learn from her like I have, check out The Blueprint Model. Registration is open through August 14th. NOW has never been a better time to improve your relationship with money.



Kristi Porter, founder of Signify

I’m Kristi Porter, and I help cause-focused organizations understand and execute effective marketing campaigns so they can move from stressed to strategic. Your resources may be limited, but your potential isn’t. Whether you’re a nonprofit, social enterprise, or small business who wants to give back, I’ll show you how to have a bigger impact.


Learn to Clearly Communicate Your Mission

Quick note: During the summer, we'll only be publishing one blog post per month as we focus on some new activities and allow you some down time without falling behind on content.

Some things get better with time: wine, cheese, your favorite jeans, and your mission. While that last item may not initially come to mind, I believe it’s true.

You see, the more you talk about your social impact mission, the better you get at telling its story. After all, practice makes perfect. You need the time, experience, and feedback to know what points will resonate most with your audience. Plus, you’ll gain confidence the more you explain who you are, what you do, and why you do it.

Learning to tell your story well, and with confidence, is part of what will attract and retain customers and donors.

This, and more, is exactly what I discussed with my friends over at Funraise recently, and I’d love to share it with you, too.

Learn to Clearly Communicate Your Social Impact Mission

In the post, I’ll show you why it’s important to use every opportunity to talk about your mission, and I’ll also explain what you can do with that feedback.

Your mission may not change, but the way you talk about it might. And I think that’s a good thing.

Because when you repeat your mission over and over again, you’re refining it. You’re not only getting better at saying it, you’re proactively making it better. It becomes more succinct, more focused, and dare I say, more engaging.

So, if you’re wondering how you can get better at communicating your social enterprise or nonprofit’s mission, click the button below.

Now that you’ve read the post, let’s take it a step further . . .

 


PIN THIS POST FOR LATER:

Learn to Clearly Communicate Your Social Impact Mission

Kristi Porter, founder of Signify

I’m Kristi Porter, and I help cause-focused organizations understand and execute effective marketing campaigns so they can move from stressed to strategic. Your resources may be limited, but your potential isn’t. Whether you’re a nonprofit, social enterprise, or small business who wants to give back, I’ll show you how to have a bigger impact.


Are You Setting Your Development Department Up to Fail?

There is a bit of a double-standard in the nonprofit community that I often see. On one hand, “marketing” is usually treated like it’s a dirty word. It equates to greedy, and not worthy of their cause. A nonprofit is a nonprofit because it doesn’t have to do any marketing, right?

On the other hand, there usually comes a point when nonprofit leaders realize, for better or for worse, that they do need to take a second look at this whole marketing thing, and it becomes more important—or even a necessary evil.

And that’s when it happens. All of these sudden, the poor development staff who have been told to look at marketing one way, suddenly find themselves in charge of it. No training, no resources, just figure it out and start doing it.

This needs to change. Why? If you don’t change your mindset, as well as provide budget and resources for your fundraising staff, you’re setting them up to fail.

Are You Setting Your Development Department Up to Fail?

Remind Me, What’s Marketing Again?

As I stated on this blog almost two years ago, marketing is simply the process that creates a relationship between creator and consumer. It includes the creation, promotion, selling, and distribution of "your thing," whatever that may be. (ex: product, service, ministry, outreach, etc.)

Obviously, this gets slightly more complex with social impact organizations because you have two audiences, the people who support your work and the people who benefit from your work. For the purposes of this post, we’ll just refer to those who make your work possible. If you’re a nonprofit who is also a social enterprise, the term “customer” may still apply. If you’re a more traditional nonprofit, substitute “donor.”

Essentially, marketing is the way people find out about your mission (ex: word-of-mouth, email, social media, website, etc). That’s not so gross, right?

You already know those things have to happen, or are happening right now, so guess what? You’re a marketer. It’s kinda like being a poet when you didn’t even know it. ;)

Now, if we agree on those things, let’s talk about where the breakdown occurs.

Why Development and Marketing Are Two, Different Areas

“Marketing” and “development” aren’t the same words for good reason. Yes, the absolutely have some overlap, but they often require a different mindset and skill set. That’s where nonprofits can easily run into trouble.

According to Wikipedia, a site which I couldn’t live without, “The role of a development director is to develop and implement a strategic plan to raise vital funds for their organization in a cost-effective and time-efficient manner.” Those last two phrases probably made you cringe, roll your eyes, or nod along—perhaps all three. #nopressure

But, if you’re tracking with me, you probably see that, in reality, marketing and development are actually two sides of the same coin. That’s good news! Both roles have the same result: Bring in money for the organization. However, the way that happens can look different.

The problem here is that, once a nonprofit decides marketing is a curiosity or an even an essential part of growth, they might expect their development person or team to either know how to do it or figure out it out for themselves. It’s like being thrown in the deep end of a pool with no life vest. And, worse still, when the marketing “fails,” there may be a determination that marketing is bad, marketing doesn’t work, or this person can’t do their job.

No, no, no. That’s where I want you to help me change things. And together, we can.

From conversations with friends, clients, and my interns, it still seems that you can graduate with a degree in nonprofit management, or something similar, and receive LITTLE TO NO marketing training. Face palm. I think this is a complete injustice and flaw in the education system, if this is true.

Do you know why? Innovation and longevity.

Nonprofits have the benefit of relying on donations and grants, if they want to. That’s a critical distinction for sure. BUT, they don’t have to rely solely on donations and grants. That’s where good marketing comes in.

By being able to figure out the marketing piece of your organization, you open up more opportunities. You can utilize the aspects of the business world, and apply them to your cause. I think this is why the social enterprise model is so exciting. It’s the perfect intersection of commerce and cause.

And, whether you choose to take the social enterprise path or not, you can still use marketing to your advantage. Many nonprofits to not have a solid content strategy, for example. They have amazing stories to tell but don’t share them well. They only communicate with donors when they need something. They mean to post on social media, send an email, set a meeting, but, but, but….

There are millions of nonprofits in the world, all competing for money and resources. And, all things being equal, I think marketing separates one from the pack. So, remove celebrity spokespeople, millionaire donors, and some of those other wish list items, and marketing is what great nonprofits do well. We’ve talked about Charity:Water on this blog before, and with good reason. Outside of a large personal network, a marketing ad campaign helped put them on the map.

Thinking through the lens of marketing creates a shift. Communication goes from nice-to-do to need-to-do, and donors take notice. One-time donors can become repeat donors. Tribes increase. Awareness grows. More money can be brought in to help programs and services increase. MORE GOOD CAN BE DONE! Isn’t that worth embracing marketing? I think so.

Let’s talk about how.

DIY Marketing

I’m not naive enough to think that nonprofit leaders will read this post, and immediately begin advertising for a marketing staffer. I know that’s not always an option. In fact, most of my clients only have one or two people dedicated to fundraising. And, for some, the nonprofit leader is also a solopreneur, handling development (and everything else) as well. It takes time and money to grow and scale, but with help, you can get there.

The first step is to actually give your development person a marketing budget. Whether this is $5 or $5,000, it’s important that it exists. This is especially essential if your development staff has no marketing knowledge or experience. You can’t expect them to know what the rest of us took years to learn.

So, DIY resources could include books, blogs (like this one!), courses, events, and the like. It’s a place where they can get the information they need to do their job better. It might even be someone like a mentor.

Also, give them time on your dime to learn. Don’t expect that they learn how to be a great marketer in their evenings or on the weekend.

I would even take this one step further and actually help them find good resources. Take an hour or so of your time to search or ask for recommendations, and then pass them along. Be proactive in making sure they have a quality marketing education, and show them that you’re there to support them.

You work for a cause, after all, so demonstrate that you care and are committed to seeing them succeed. And, if you’re the boss, plan for a bigger marketing budget next year.

Hybrid Marketing

Let’s say you’ve got more than a few bucks in your marketing budget, and you’re willing to bring in some help. Great! You’re in a very good place.

Additional help could look like a one-time, ongoing, or once-in-a-while contractor, coach, or consultant, for example. Evaluate not just your budget, but the return on investment from a person who fits this need. Yes, it could be a sticker shock if you aren’t used to working with these folks, but how will they pay off in the long run? Their expertise may just take your organization or employee to the next level. Plus, you only have so much time on your hands. What if someone else can do a better job faster?

This is obviously where people like me fit in. I started my business to fill a need that I commonly saw as a previous employee of several nonprofits, as well as a long-time volunteer. I was regularly asked marketing and communications questions by friends and staff of nonprofits and social enterprises. They had questions, and I was happy to answer. So, when I was leaving my old job, I asked if the would be willing to pay me for project work so that I could help them grow. Those people, including the organization that I was a long-time volunteer with, all became my first clients. And many of them have become repeat clients.

For you, it might be graphic design help to make your marketing look sharp. It could be a coaching program that teaches your development staff how to also be marketers. It could be a social media manager who takes that responsibility off their plate.

One of the fun things that I love about being a consultant, and why I hire them myself, is that they see everything with fresh eyes. You are in the day-to-day of your work, and sometimes, all it takes is an outside perspective and few tweaks to get you on a better track.

If you’ve got a little more money to work with, give this avenue a shot. If you’re nervous, start with a small project. See how you can make this approach work for you.

Hire a Marketing Person

So, obviously, it takes more of a significant amount of money and commitment to hire a part-time or full-time marketing person. But if you’re determine to make marketing work for your nonprofit, this might be the right choice for you.

If you don’t have it already, I’d encourage you to write out the job description for your development director or staff. Is it more than they can handle? Does it include items they’ve never been trained for, and no resources to equip them? This is often the case. If it is, something needs to change.

I know you don’t intentionally want to set up your development department to fail. But I wouldn’t be addressing it on this blog if this weren’t a common issue. What can you do differently?

Leaders, I cannot tell you how often I see comments about this stuff in Facebook Groups and hear about it in conversations. This kind of thing puts so much pressure and burden on your employees, and will lead to burnout and frustration, which won’t serve you, your organization, or your cause well.

It’s a new year, so it’s a great time to make the shift. Set your development staff up to succeed. And make marketing an intentional part of your communication process. I don’t think you’ll regret it.



PIN THIS POST FOR LATER:

“Marketing” and “development” aren’t the same words for good reason. Yes, the absolutely have some overlap, but they often require a different mindset and skill set. That’s where nonprofits can easily run into trouble.

Kristi Porter, founder of Signify

I’m Kristi Porter, and I help cause-focused organizations understand and execute effective marketing campaigns so they can move from stressed to strategic. Your resources may be limited, but your potential isn’t. Whether you’re a nonprofit, social enterprise, or small business who wants to give back, I’ll show you how to have a bigger impact.


How to Communicate with Year-End Donors in the New Year

Whew—you made it! It was a crazy, busy season, but you crossed the threshold into the New Year. Congratulations!

So, once you’ve wrapped up your year-end giving, you can sit back and relax come January, right? Welllll, not quite. I realize you could probably already use a vacation, but one of your best bets for building momentum and donor retention in the first quarter is to build on your efforts in the last one.

And while I sincerely hope that your nonprofit reached or surpassed your end of year giving goals, these strategies can be implemented even if you didn’t. Either way, they’ll set you up for better months ahead.

How to Communicate with Year-End Donors in the New Year

Make Good on Your Promises

First of all, it’s incredibly important to make good on any promises from last year. Leftovers tend to start stinking, am I right?

This could include reports, updates, or any other documentation that you owe your donor base. For example, I’ve seen annual gala sponsorship levels that include quarterly reports to major sponsors and donors. If you’ve got something like that on your plate, take action now before another, “more important” task comes along.

And if you didn’t release an annual report as part of your year-end fundraising campaign, this can be another great tool to start the New Year. Show off the impact your work is having, while highlighting opportunities for growth and engagement.

Keeping and fulfilling any promises you made to donors, sponsors, and partners is just one more way you can prove that you’re trustworthy, responsible, and deserving of their time and investment.

(Tip: If at all possible, never let them have to ask you for this information. That looks bad. Do everything you can to put the information or resources in their hands first. If there’s going to be a delay, communicate that so they don’t have to wonder or, worse, think you forgot.)

Send Those Shout Out’s, High Five’s, and Horray’s

Don’t forget to celebrate those victories! As someone who can easily dismiss an achievement, especially a small one, and move on to the next thing, I encourage you to take the win every time.

Better yet—share it with your fan base! If you met your fundraising goal and are now able to provide more products and/or services to those who benefit from your work, let everyone know! Send out an email blast, post it on social media, host a Facebook Live, release carrier pigeons, shout it from the rooftops, or do whatever you need to do to let your fans and followers know they played a part in getting you there.

This is your chance to say, “We did it!” And when you tell them exactly how those funds will be used, you not only instill a sense of pride in your contributors, but you’ll subconsciously encourage them to give again!

But let’s say you didn’t meet you goals. What then? Well, don’t take that as your cue to forego any updates. You still need to do that, but you’ll obviously need to tailor the message. You can send out a thank you, and tell people what’s on the horizon. Remind them of what’s at stake, and how you plan on serving people this year. Get them excited for the future, and state how they can be a part of your incredible work.

Keeping your fans in the loop is one sure-fire step toward donor retention. When people don’t know how their money is used, don’t know who is being served, and don’t know what’s going on, they are far more likely to take their hard-earned money to someone who can check those boxes for them. So, stay in touch!

(Tip: If you’ve been lax on your marketing and communication in the past, use these kinds of updates to get you back on track in the New Year. Update, rinse, and repeat. Make it a habit you’ll keep going forward. And if you’re not sure what to send them, I’ve got a few ideas.)

Pencil In Your VIPs

Always strike while the iron is hot, as they say, but particularly when it comes to your largest contributors. Take a look back at the previous year (or years), and identify who gave the most, either in dollars or in-kind. Then, get these people on your calendar.

If they’re local, take them to coffee or lunch. If they’re not, opt for a phone call, or even better, a video chat where you can look them in the eye. But make these interactions personal on some level, and don’t just lump them in to a mass email.

Use the opportunities to say thank you, and let them know what’s been going on, especially if it’s been a while. Ask for their input, or get them involved in a deeper level with your organization. If they gave a substantial amount, it’s likely they are very moved by your mission and would be thrilled to hear how they can further meet your needs.

(Tip 1: Don’t leave the conversation without what we in the marketing biz refer to as a call to action. This just means you’ll be asking them to do something. It could be very simple or a bigger ask, depending on the relationship, conversation, or needs. Examples could include setting up a follow up appointment, making an introduction, becoming a larger donor, or a spot on the board. The point is to make the most of the interaction.)

(Tip 2: Create reminders to follow up with these people throughout the year. Whether you’re just personally emailing to say hello or sending them some sort of update, check in with them at least once a quarter to let them know your nonprofit values their relationship. This will also take some of the stress and pressure off of having to squeeze everyone in at the end of the year—bonus!)

How will you communicate with year-end donors in the New Year?



PIN THIS POST FOR LATER:

One of your best bets for building momentum and donor retention in the first quarter is to build on your efforts in the last one.

Kristi Porter, founder of Signify

I’m Kristi Porter, and I help cause-focused organizations understand and execute effective marketing campaigns so they can move from stressed to strategic. Your resources may be limited, but your potential isn’t. Whether you’re a nonprofit, social enterprise, or small business who wants to give back, I’ll show you how to have a bigger impact.