40 Lessons Learned by Nonprofit Professionals in 2015

We all look for advice from our role models. Up-and-coming writers read quotes from the greats, and aspiring athletes watch tape after tape of their favorite all-stars. Similarly, younger nonprofits can learn from those who’ve made a mark in their respective field.
 
 That’s why we’ve asked the experts to share their hard-earned lessons, tips, and insights on how to grow and make an impact. It’s incredible that even across sectors, nonprofit professionals share very common experiences and develop similar strategies in their work. Check out what these 40 nonprofit professionals would say to an organization just starting out, and discover the common threads uniting the top lessons learned in 2015.

Focus on Your Audience

“If you try to be relevant to everyone, you’ll be relevant to no one. Define who your audience is, what they want, and what you can teach them.”

— LAURA Schwecherl, Marketing Director, Possible

“Use social and web analytics to learn who your audience is. Whether it be demographics or interests, tailor content to your audience for better engagement and conversions.”

— Jorge Taveras, Online Marketing Manager, Action Against Hunger

“Get to know your audience. Empower them to be a part of your mission. And even if it is subtle, always provide them with a call to action.”

— Sam Kille, Communications Manager, Bob Woodruff Foundation

“Believe in the potential of the communities you serve and partner with. Let them lead.”

— Susan Varghese, Communications and Marketing Officer, Shining Hope for Communities

“If we listen and know those we attempt to serve, we will value them and affirm their dignity. Sustainable development WILL happen.”

— Dan Haseltine, Co-Founder and Director of Artist Relations, Blood:Water

“It’s not about you or your organization. It’s about the donor and what they can do with their gift.”

— Cathy Herholdt, Director of Marketing and Communications, World Concern

“Know your vision, know your next step, and empower your audience to help you get there.”

— Chris Angotti, Chief Operation Officer, National Novel Writing Month

“Build a committed and loyal base of supporters that is so strong that the biggest challenge will be keeping up with their desire to help. Good Luck!”

— Yonatan Sklar, Webmaster and Director of Technology and Media Services, Camp HASC

“Set yourself up for success. Have the right infrastructure in place so that you can maximize your outreach and learn even more about your audience and their preferences.”

— Nadja Borovac, Director of Marketing and Communications, Worldreader

“An end of year campaign is putting oneself into the mindset of a potential donor. Sometimes you have to roll the hard six to connect to your cause.”

— Michael Sola, Executive Vice President, Fight Colorectal Cancer

Editor’s Note: In order to create significant change, it’s important to remember the driving force behind your organization: your audience. A tight-knit community is an invaluable asset that will sustain your work as you continue to grow and develop.

Create Meaningful Dialogue

“We found that one powerful, Instagram-able image can make a big difference when shared by influencers.”

— Stephanie Kauffman, Chief Communications and Digital Officer, Breast Cancer Research Foundation

“Find new ways to create a dialogue online with your supporters. Help them share your organization’s story with their friends.”

— Marvin Cadet, Development Specialist, The Mission Continues


For more lessons learned on why it’s important to delight your donors, the importance of working together, fostering innovation, and why you must continue to have fun, click here.

What lessons did you learn at your organization in 2015? Let us know your biggest tips and insights in the comments below.

Originally published at www.classy.org.

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