April 19, 2018

Three Marketing Acronyms That Can Improve Your Grants Impact

These three marketing concepts can change how you look at your grants program and give you the power to improve it.

You may not be in a formal marketing role at your organization, but chances are you are in marketing. That’s because every individual that’s committed to the mission and continued impact of a nonprofit -- from the volunteer soliciting donations at a community event to the seasoned board member reviewing the annual budget -- is pivotal in proliferating the organization’s mission, goals, and in turn, facilitating its success. And yes, that’s what marketing is: using all devices and mediums available to promote a product, program, or service.

So congratulations, you’re now in marketing. While your day-to-day responsibilities may not suddenly include collateral content creation or SEO analytics monitoring, there are some go-to strategies of the profession that can help you strengthen in whichever role you do own. Let’s get to them -- all three of which just happen to be acronyms. We like those here in marketing land.

1. Strengthen your CTA

CTA stands for “call to action,” and can be expressed as both a concept and an actual item. Basically, what do you want people to do, and how are they able to quickly do it?

In the first instance, your call to action is probably influenced by what department you work in. If you are in donor management, your action is “give.” If you run a grants program, it’s probably “apply.” Other CTAs common in the nonprofit space might be “share,” “volunteer,” or “donate.” While all are good, and quite possibly necessary for the health or your organization, try and see if you can pick just one. What’s the biggest, most important thing the public needs to do to help you succeed? When everyone in your organization is speaking the same language, the stronger your CTA becomes.

Once you know what that is, you need to shout it from the rooftops. Or, as the case in modern marketing often is, place it in an attractive font and eye-catching color within a button on your website. In the physical sense, a CTA is the button or link people can click on to perform your desired action. Make sure this button is everywhere a potential supporter could be, and make it easy for them to find, click, and complete the task at hand. Make it a uniform look across your website, landing pages, emails, and even paper collateral. The more accessible and user-friendly your CTA, the more people will utilize it.

2. Know your KPIs

KPIs are Key Performance Indicators … basically the data points that help you decide if your efforts are delivering the results you want. Every elements of your promotions can and will have its own analytics that you can track and review; for a social media post it might be impressions or “likes,” for a blog post views or click-thrus to your website. But when you select your top KPIs, you are determining the handful of overreaching numbers that tell you if you are succeeding.

How do you pick? Start with that CTA. If your organization’s top CTA is to apply for a grant, it’s easy to determine that your top KPI is going to be number of grant applications received. Any supporting KPIs are going to be the things that might influence that first one -- perhaps visitors to the grant application, visitors to your website’s page about your grant program, or click-thrus on the email sent to your list announcing that the grant application is now open.

There are two common ways to then look at these collected numbers to determine real success. One is year-over-year comparison -- if in 2017 you received 100 grant applications and in 2018 you received 150, one can assume things are trending upward.

The other, and sometimes more interesting, way is to look at the KPIs as part of a journey or funnel. If 500 visitors went to your grant program webpage but then only 200 went to the application itself and then only 100 actually submitted the application, you start to see the conversion rates and where people are dropping off. Some drop off is totally normal and expected, but major drop offs indicate a potential issue you need to fix. Are you pushing the wrong people to apply for this grant? Is the application itself too confusing or long?

When you combine these two KPI approaches and compare conversions year-over-year, you can see an even clearer picture of what’s working and what needs improvement.

3. Focus on ROI

No matter the size of your staff, you invest a lot in your programs. Every hour worked, event attended, and software purchased is time and energy put in. To run a successful program, its paramount that you aren’t overusing resources and that the end result is impactful enough to justify all those used.

ROI is Return on Investment, and while its used in multiple industries, in the nonprofit world it most basically works out to making every piece of your program worthwhile. Is your team being efficient with their time? Are you using promotion channels that get results? Is the software you use to manage your grants helping you save time on administrative tasks? Are you able to see the positive results of your investment in the community?

Every organization will find ways to track these and determine if the “return” is great enough. Often helpful in both achieving and determining this is the use of a grants management platform. Designed to streamline the applications, management, and review processes, these systems often also include features that can help a team determine their grants’ impact long-term. A comprehensive but affordable grants management platform that saves time and allows organizations to better engage with their grantees and constituents often delivers invaluable ROI.


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