Dealing With Nonprofit Challenges
We asked 1,000 nonprofits to open up about the biggest challenges they face today. In addition to nonprofit challenges we often think of, like budget constraints and overhead, we found that there were many common issues nonprofits struggle with. After pouring over responses, we found unique solutions to each one of the 12 challenges nonprofits face today. Tackling these challenges is why we’re hard at work making sure these issues become smaller and smaller with every innovation with our approach.
Out of the 1,000 responses we received from our survey, the most common challenges listed within the responses broke down into four trends: marketing, fundraising, donors, and organization. The term ‘organization’ here refers to the nonprofit’s actual staff, resources, and board. Within the four larger trend categories, there were also 12 sub-categories that ranged from activating zero-dollar fundraisers to a need for more board engagement.
Challenges are a part of any business, for-profit or not for profit. The goal of this study is to show that no matter what causes space you’re in, where you’re located, or generally, how big your nonprofit is, the challenges for nonprofits are similar across the board.
The really exciting part? There are some pretty concrete steps and strategies that nonprofits can use to overcome many of these challenges, which we’ll cover below. By continuing the conversation and offering up some ideas, we’re hoping that many organizations can make these issues a thing of the past.
Across the board, fundraising holds the title for the most challenging aspect of running a nonprofit. Below, we’ve further broken down the individual challenges within fundraising.
Solution to getting new fundraisers: encourage sharing
Encouraging your supporters to share their connection to your cause in their own words can have an immense impact. When supporters ask to do more, make sure they know that simply sharing on social media can bring in more donations, expand awareness, and reach a network of otherwise untapped new supporters.
In addition, the value of sharing is real and measurable. Often, a supporter can’t give monetarily, but they can still lend their voice and spread the word. According to our data report, each post-donation social share brings in an average of $15 in new donations to a campaign. And the average visitor to an online fundraising page who shares in lieu of donating brings in an average of $13 per share.
Solution to lack of engagement: meet your supporters at their level
Messaging isn’t ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to supporter engagement. When you’re talking to your supporters, you want to identify where they are in the fundraising process and reach out to them in the way that works best at that moment.
Maybe you have supporters who aren’t as interested in fundraising for an organized campaign but might be more apt to do DIY fundraising and give up their birthday or another special day for your cause.
What about talking to your supporters after they finished their fundraisers? Are you letting them know how appreciated they are? This will make it easy for them to want to start another fundraiser for your cause in the future.
Solution to zero-dollar fundraisers: give them tools for success
Zero dollar fundraisers are a common issue among nonprofits employing peer-to-peer fundraising. Understanding your supporters’ mindset can help solve this issue.
Many of the supporters participating in endurance events like half marathons, full marathons, or walk-a-thons are first-time participants, and they might be somewhat nervous and a little scared. They’ve most likely never asked their friends and family for money before.
Don’t be afraid to conduct personal outreach to them and provide them with some possible solutions to their fears. Just attempting this personal reach out and alleviating fear-based issues can help to engage and empower these zero-dollar fundraisers to become fundraising superstars.
Nonprofits ranked marketing as one of the areas where they feel they have the most challenges. Issues related to brand awareness, newness in the nonprofit world, and issues cutting through the noise were the most common.
Solution to lack of brand awareness: make your voice unique
When your supporters share their love for your cause with their own networks, the work that you do, and how their friends and family can help, they can essentially be thought of as brand ambassadors. They’re getting your cause in front of their networks and engaging them in a highly authentic way. But it’s important that your brand message carries through as well.
Think of voice as your organization’s personality. It’s constant and helps people identify your cause as uniquely yours. It’s how you speak on your social accounts, website, or even on the phone. However, your tone can flex with the type of conversation being had. If you’re asking for help in an urgent matter, rather than congratulating someone who just crossed a finish line, it’s natural for your tone to change.
Your organization’s voice and tone are two of the most critical factors in helping your messaging, cause, and brand stand out from the rest. When you have a solid voice and tone, this messaging is more apt to carry over even when the story is being told by your supporters.
Solution to new to the nonprofit world: set micro-goals
Being new to the nonprofit world can come with its ups and downs. One of the most common struggles we heard from organizations just starting out was feeling intimidated by the large goals they have set for themselves.
Hosting your first capital event, getting started with peer-to-peer, or trying to meet a large fundraising goal can definitely feel a little intimidating when just starting out. However, it’s important to acknowledge that even the biggest, most seasoned nonprofits break down each goal into smaller micro-goals to make them achievable.
An example of a micro goal might be getting ten new fundraisers each week, or having supporters share 50 times with their own social networks. By thinking of these things as small wins, they’ll add up to growth and momentum for your organization.
Solution to cutting through the noise: empower supporters to tell your story
We know how hard it is to break through the noise on Facebook, but if you encourage your supporters to share with their own networks, you can easily avoid this common hurdle. When your passionate supporters embrace your nonprofit’s story as part of their own, it resonates with their network on a personal level, making it nearly impossible to ignore. They’re essentially “vouching” for your cause, making their own network of friends and family more apt to learn more and support this cause.
And with the average person having 155 Facebook friends, a single share has a 155x multiplier on the number of people it can reach.
Across both large and small nonprofits, organizational issues ranked high up on the challenge scale. Additionally, the subcategories of staffing issues, lack of education and tools, and time management fell into the exact same rank, no matter the size of the organization.
Solution to staffing issues: use your success team
At Mosaic, nonprofit success is in our blood. We care about your organization and helping you grow, becoming successful, and working toward your mission.
With Mosaic, you’ll get a success team meant to be used as an extension of your own team. The Mosaic success team is ready to help with campaign planning and messaging, making sure you’re maximizing the functionality available on the platform, understanding and analyzing your data, as well as providing a holistic approach to your fundraising efforts and goals.
Solution to education: take advantage of free resources
The nonprofit industry is growing, modernizing, and changing at a rapid pace. Keeping up with best practices, new ways of reaching supporters, and industry trends can feel like a full-time job. But as they say, knowledge is power. When you devote time to educating yourself on these ongoing changes and encouraging and empowering your staff to do so as well, you’re setting yourself up for success.
Attending free webinars, learning about new fundraising initiatives through online articles, digging into trends, learning more about your supporters (or the supporters you want), and thinking outside the box can lead to new outlooks, new ideas, new energy, and new strategies.
The challenges associated with donors and donor retention was the only category that had varied responses between large and small nonprofits. Large organizations struggled more with communicating with their donors through social media, email, or fundraiser updates. Small organizations had more issues with acquiring year-round donations.
Solution to no year-round donations: create more donation opportunities
Events are a great time to engage with your donors, but what about other avenues that keep the giving opportunities going year-round? You could encourage supporters during your event to make their contribution recurring. They’re in the moment and excited to give, so why not encourage them to extend that goodwill throughout the entire year?
Another idea is to introduce DIY fundraising. DIY isn’t something you implement to take the place of another fundraising tactic, but rather it’s a type of fundraising that exists year-round and that you can add to your existing fundraising toolbox.
When you allow for DIY fundraising, you’re empowering supporters to start fundraisers when they want and how they want based on their unique connection to your cause. Supporters can give up their birthday for your cause, host a school bake sale, create a memorial fundraiser, or any other type of fundraiser they can think of.
By trying these ideas, you can open up new fundraising opportunities for supporters who might not be engaged in the other options your nonprofit may be offering.
Solution to communicating with donors: keep it personal
When your supporters feel connected to the mission that your nonprofit is striving toward on an emotional level, they will feel more compelled and empowered to help you in any way they can. Presenting real challenges and real solutions can allow your supporters to see themselves as change-makers.
Maybe there’s a project that’s unfinished or a person who needs help. When you present stories that are real and specific, it shows your supporters the opportunity they have to help. In every communication, your donor should see themselves in your story, instead of only hearing how your nonprofit is helping the cause.
Solution to burnout: change your point of view
It might sound obvious, but sometimes we forget to put ourselves in the shoes of whom we’re trying to reach. When you think like a donor, you’ll be able to see more clearly how your communication, campaign strategy, or even your practice of thanking your supporters really works.
If you want your donors to stay committed to your cause, you need to have lasting, emotional conversations with them. You should get to know each other, build trust, and then continue to surprise them.