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Core Principles for Non-Profits

3 Key Strategies for Success

Our clients come to us for advice on how to increase the effectiveness of their work. Whether they want to launch a new campaign, reinvigorate their donors, or conduct a poll, we encourage non-profits to think beyond the short term.

Planning ahead is what can make the difference between a good result and a great result.

Of course there are many factors and ingredients to success.  That list could number 300 as easily as 3 (but I don’t think anyone would want to read a blog post on the “top 300 things you could to).  However, there are certain factors that are often predictors of success. These are:

  • Integration: Great campaigns and successful projects happen when all of the individual parts come together in a single effort. Breaking down the silos between fundraising, communications, research, and organizational development can create new synergy that boosts the effectiveness of your programs.  For most organizations your fundraising program is one of your key communications channels – it is not just to raise money, but also to get your message out.  And if your communications messages don’t inspire people to give, they may not be the right messages for any aspect of your program.
  • Research is the key to great strategy: In many cases, what separates the wheat from the chaff in strategy is whether or not it’s rooted in solid research. The smartest NGOs and political leaders systematically analyze the context of their work – their own weaknesses and their challenges, their successes and failures. Guessing isn’t usually good enough, yet that is what happens all too often.   Good campaigns, whether they are communications, fundraising, or advocacy, take into account the views of their constituency, donors or target audiences. Research and testing are how strategic intuition becomes an actual plan of action, and the only sure antidote to the biases we may have.
  • Building a base: In most social and political change, bigger is better. To challenge power, or challenge for power, you must have meaningful resources to do so. That means fundraising should be close to the centre of decision making. Those forms of fundraising that also build a constituency provide the most potential for long term stable revenue and help build an activist, volunteer and community support base that is critical to achieving long term success.

These principals are by no means ‘one-size-fits all.’ Success depends on finding the solution that best fits your specific circumstances. But, at the heart of most success campaigns are integration, research and building a solid and large base of support.

In our next post we’ll switch to techniques and talk about a great new tool that can help you engage and mobilize your supporters: Telephone Town Halls.

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