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Your Associations & Non-profit organisation Web Experts
Design, Development and Online Marketing experts for Associations and not for profit organisations

Show me the Money!

Whilst all non-profits have a greater purpose almost all of the tools that they use are judged by the same criteria as in the commercial world. The internet and online activities are no exception.

So, beyond the potential benefits of service provision online, what steps can you take to positively impact the balance sheet online? Here are six ideas for you to consider:

Saving Money Online

Almost all not for profit organisations need to proactively communicate with their constituents and stakeholders, examples include compulsory publications such as Annual Reports and campaign communications for awareness and fund raising. Many of these activities are apt for taking online.

Using the internet for such communications is more efficient and cost effective. Email and SMS communications are highly cost effective in comparison to printing and posting, whilst encouraging people to visit your website and download reports and documents should be almost free.

Not all of your constituents will wish to communicate online, however in Australia the internet is almost pervasive. In fact many groups are finding that their stakeholders are increasingly demanding more online facilities and interaction, and they cannot keep up!

The move online is inevitable and it benefits everyone (except Australia post of course), and whilst there are short term costs associated with the move, there a dramatic medium terms savings to be made.

Generating New Revenue Streams

The online world offers new ways of generating revenue for non-profits. Some of these are mainstream, such as the ability efficiently to sell services and products. Others however are less obvious and involve the leveraging of the volume of website visitors that non-profits tend to get along with the trust level associated with the organisation. These concepts are more in depth and must be carefully considered for each organisation.

Finding Efficiencies

Many of the everyday communications and processes undertaken by non-profits require careful preparation and execution. Often they require skills and resources that can be expensive, or alternatively they can be time consuming and error prone (hopefully not both!).

Each of these issues can be addressed using the internet and good online applications. Here are a couple of real world examples:

Email communications systems

During a recent project we were helping a small membership organisation take their database online and automate events bookings.

One small element of the project was the build of an engaging email newsletter template, which ended up being used several times a month.

Just this small part of the project saved the organisation on average a few hours a week and over 10,000 per year in production costs.

Online Membership renewals

During another project we implemented a fully automated online membership system and databases. This system enabled members to self-serve and automated invoicing and payment processing.

This part of the project took membership renewals from around an hour per member to effectively zero! In addition it enabled members to renew instantly and at their own convenience, this sped up the renewal cycle and reduced the time between renewal and money in the bank from an average of 2 months to 2 weeks!

Automation

One of the most common paths taken online is to take constituent interactions online. These activities have traditionally be handled manually either over the phone, by fax or post. They are usually core functions of the organisation, but can also be low value and highly repetitive. For example updating a contacts details, membership renewals and answer common questions.

Many of these transactional processes can be facilitated online via a website, which can free up significant time to concentrate on higher value tasks such as advocacy and adding value to members.

Sponsorships

Having a professional and pleasing online presence opens up sponsorship options for those looking to be associated with your brand and wishing to contact your constituents. Sponsorships are usually offered in packages, from the high profile platinum sponsors or partners, though to the in-kind and minor contributors who need to be recognised and thanked.

There are a few ways you can provide exposure for your sponsors, the website being the most common, but do not forget to offer a presence within a newsletter or email communication. Because emails are proactive and you can provide demographic information about recipients sponsors are usually interested in a plug in them.

Advertising

Advertising is a more obvious tactic and one that is relatively easy to implement. However some advertising can be ‘brand damaging’ so it should be considered carefully. It could also be argued that the relative value of a non-profit web presence is higher than other websites because of the trust and goodwill the organisation has built, but this value is not recognised in the payment plans of online advertising schemes.

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