Now What???

As we near the close of Passover and re-enter our work lives, many of us will return to desktops piled high with unfinished work and the heavy weight of the challenges they represent.

In these constrained economic times with reduced resources (both financial and human) I worry that the downward drag is sucking the energy out of even the most optimistic people. Inertia fed by fear of the future can create a worse outcome than even the direst economic predictions. For those of us who plow the fields of nonprofit marketing and communications, the challenge is keep our eye on the long view and help our organizations maintain and create strong relationships with their core constituents. Failure to maintain strong ties with supporters is a sure way to become irrelevant to them.

Focus on these most basic and important communications and marketing strategies to steer your way through these difficult times:

  1. Communicate, communicate, and communicate with your core supporters. If you walked away from your monthly newsletter or e-newsletter several years ago, go back and rethink your strategy. Now is the time to stay in close touch with donors, prospects, members and friends and report to them both your challenges and successes. When times improve, your organization is the one they will remember who was there keeping the community afloat. Take a look at UJA-Federation of New York’s new e-newsletter. It’s a good example of how to effectively communicate with your constituents.
  2. Experiment with new approaches. Take time to figure out (if you haven’t already) how Twitter, Facebook and other online social marketing sites function and whether they make sense for your organization to use. These new tools can be great additions to your marketing toolkit but each requires serious effort and experimentation before you incorporate them. Take a look at this valuable link to learn more about using Twitter.
  3. Listen and learn. So much has changed in the past months that we should not assume what we knew about our supporters has remained constant. Many Americans, including many members of the Jewish community, have reduced means and have adjusted their lifestyles accordingly. Living with less is the new mantra. Organizations must be in touch with their donors and supporters attitudes, value set and needs to effectively offer them the relationship they will value. Bring together small, informal focus groups to learn what these people are feeling and (as a secondary benefit) create some good will just be extending the invitation. Host a simple online survey to hear what your visitors think. Then apply your learnings.

Gail Hyman is a marketing and communications professional, with deep experience in both the public and private sectors. She currently focuses her practice, Gail Hyman Consulting, on assisting Jewish nonprofit organizations increase their ranks of supporters and better leverage their communications in the Web 2.0 environment. Gail is a regular contributor to eJewish Philanthropy.