Saturday, February 5, 2011

RECAP: New report gives Canadian Non-Profits failing grade in Marketing

NOTE: This Blog was posted in late December, but due to popular demand I've reposted it.

2010 named Year of the Stakeholder Relationships
Canada’s non-profit organizations received a failing grade in marketing for 2010. That’s one of the conclusion of a new report by the Non-Profit Marketer, a leading national blog that focuses on non-profit marketing and communications. The report, the Non-Profit Marketing Year in Review, says stakeholder relationships was the key issue for non-profits in 2010, but most lacked resources, skills, data and vision to deal with it.

“We’re calling 2010 the Year of Stakeholder Relationships. It was the year where non-profits were challenged by technology, the economic downturn, growing funding problems and increased competition. All of this put pressure on one of the most critical assets non-profits have – their relationships with their volunteers, funders, donors, supporters and friends,” said John Suart, author of the report and creator of the Non-Profit Marketer.

2010 saw the continued rise of social media across all age groups. Canadian non-profits are increasingly turning to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to attract and keep stakeholders, but the medium is still very young. Research from the US shows that while a majority of donors now use social media, only 6 percent actually give money that way.

The use of mobile devices is also on the rise, and will likely change the marketing landscape for all business, including non-profits. More than three-quarters of Canadians now have cell phones. Research from US shows that most adults now text more than they place calls, and the trend is growing, especially among the young.

“At the same time, the economic downturn has hurt Canadian non-profits. Research released from Statistics Canada in November showed that Canada’s donor-base is shrinking. The number of taxpayers claiming a deduction for a charitable donation hit its lowest level in 30 years,” said Suart. “They’re hurting.”

“Stakeholder engagement has never been more important for non-profits in Canada, but unfortunately many of them are unprepared to deal with the issue.”

Non-profit marketing continues to be consistently underfunded. Research shows that spending on marketing varies widely between organizations. Data collection, a key tool in the marketing arsenal, has been hampered by a lack of up-to-date practices, like the collection of email addresses. Skills was the soft underbelly of most non-profit marketing operations in 2010. The larger operations, especially those in fundraising, could afford to hire top quality talent. But for most non-profits, this continues to unattainable. The churn in budgets and skills coupled with the lack of vision and poor data creates marketing programs that tend to follow, not lead.

The report recommends a clearer mandate for marketing departments and better, more consistent funding. Further, it calls on stronger integration and measurement to make sure marketing dollars are spent wisely.

“Can stakeholder relationships be saved? The answer is yes. The tools and the know-how to use them are there. What is needed is leadership to show the way. Like in past years, non-profits will somehow find a way to muddle through as they always have, and, hopefully, always will,” said Suart.


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