The New Year is in full swing. The drive to fulfill New Year’s Resolutions is starting to wear off. And that means now is the perfect time to push your non-profit marketing campaign into full swing.

Wait, now? Why not three weeks ago? Because three weeks ago you wouldn’t have needed any additional marketing to drum up new donations. Everyone was gung-ho about making a change in the New Year. This, this is crunch time. After potential donors are starting to drift away from their desire to do something besides beer and pizza, but before they’ve completely given up on their New Year’s determination to do good in the world.

We could tell you how to design your marketing channels for the best results, but we figure you’ve already got people telling you about all that. What we are going to talk about are the do’s and don’ts of designing and printing posters to help drive donations for 2011.

What, Now?

Oh wait, you wanted to talk about that now? Well, if you insist. Although if you tune in for the next couple of days you’ll have a front-row seat to some of the ins and outs of printing posters that don’t just catch your audience’s eye, but also help drive the results you need. For now, we’ll leave it at this.

1)      We’re visual creatures. Make it boring, and we couldn’t care less. Make an image visually pleasing when you’re printing and we’ll actually pay attention!

2)      Bright colors get the job done.

3)      Use the K.I.S.S. methodology when writing copy for your posters.

4)      Remember, everyone wants someone they can relate to. Images of people in places or doing things that tug not only at our heart strings, but also at our own deepest desires and fears, will catch our eye faster than a chili dog at the county fair.

5)      Ideals are good, reality is better. Don’t pull your punches back too far. Non-profit fundraising is all about introducing people to a reality they’ve never seen before, then getting them to do something about it. Sugarcoating isn’t going to make that happen.

See you tomorrow!

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I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Event posters are the single best way I know to spread the word on a broad scale when you’ve got an event coming up. They’re big, they’re eye catching, they sit on walls and bulletin boards and attract attention. If you’ve done your design work right, your event posters are already drawing in plenty of potential attendees for your next big event.

Now comes the hard part. How do you close the deal?

With summer in full swing organizations and groups across the country are creating posters for concerts, sales and other big events. I’m going to tell you the same thing I tell everyone when they start asking what information they should put on their event posters. Event posters aren’t brochures, and they aren’t book covers. Your event poster should have the basics as prominently displayed as possible.

What do I mean by the basics? Do the 5 W’s ring a bell? (Who, what, when, where, why)

Let me give you an example. Let’s say you’re a sports booster group hosting a car wash as a fundraiser for your local cheerleading squad. You decide you want to print up some event posters and tack them up, since the girls are headed to the state championships and you want to make sure as many people as possible know about it! Your poster should have a great picture of the girls on the field, as well as:

The team name

What kind of fundraiser you’re hosting (in this case, a car wash)

The date and time of the car wash

The location of the car wash

What the money’s going to be used for

And, of course, somewhere on there you’re going to want to put the price per car wash. It’s just good manners.

 

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It’s all in who you know. We’ve all heard that saying over…and over…and over again, but never is the importance of good networking skills more obvious than when you’re trying to drum up support for your non-profit.

Remember when I was talking about the reasons that businesses would decide to support your organization? Sure, there’s a little quid-pro-quo involved, but any business you’re going to talk to about being involved in your non-profit is going to enjoy the good feeling they get from giving back just as much as they are the tax breaks and positive PR your organization can give them. When you’re soliciting donations from individuals rather than corporations, however, you’re going to need to turn down the quid-pro-quo and approach it from a personal angle.

You’re going to have to sharpen your networking skills.

Make the Connection

Do you have any idea how many non-profit organizations are currently operating in the United States? As of the beginning of 2010 there were 1,515,746 non-profit and charity groups operating in the US, keeping in mind that since there are plenty of organizations that slip into a gray area when they’re being tallied up those numbers aren’t entirely set in stone. You’re going to be facing a huge amount of competition when it comes to generating support for your non-profit.

The best way to encourage individual donations is to connect with the individual, and that’s where your networking skills need to kick in. It’s your job to forge that personal connection with your donors. They need to know why your cause matters, what you’re doing to help and what their contribution is going to do. Connecting with them on an emotional level is going to be the difference between walking away with a long-term donor and a donation in hand and just walking away.

Of course, it’s one thing to know that you need to forge that emotional connection. It’s another thing entirely to actually make it happen. Relax. Take a deep breath. You’ve already got all the networking skills and tools you need. The fact that you’re working with the non-profit means you have compassion. The fact that you’re actively soliciting donations means you’ve got dedication. The fact that your organization trusts you enough to send you out as their representative means you’ve got passion. That passion, that sense of drive, is what’s going to bring your donors around to your side.

Everyone wants something to stir their blood. They want to feel like they’re a part of something, to know that the choices they make and the actions they take are going to change the world. They want to feel as though a part of them is going to live on long after they’re gone.

Forging the Right Links

Now that you’re all fired up and ready to take your newly empowered networking skills for a test drive, let’s back the car up just a little bit. It’s one thing to know you’re going to go out and connect with people that might one day help you save the world. That job gets a lot more overwhelming when you realize it takes more than 5 or 10 donations to keep a non-profit flowing smoothly. Can you really spend your entire day wheedling donations from each and every one of your potential donors?

Of course not. There just aren’t that many hours in a day. So, as unfair as it might be-and it really is unfair, when you get right down to it-you’re going to have to pick and choose which potential donors you’re going to wine and dine with your precious free time. I suggest taking a three pronged attack to networking from this point on:

1)      Put all of that passion and fervor into creating some awesome promotional materials to draw in new donors. After all, who knows the beauty of your cause better than you do?

 2)      Mingle at every event you attend. Just a few minutes with each group of guests could secure thousands in donations for your organization and create a positive impression of your non-profit they’re not going to forget any time soon.

 3)      Take time to personally speak with potentially large donors. Let them feel personally welcomed, and encourage them to get involved. There’s a lot more that goes into keeping a non-profit running than money. Seeing your organization in action will not only help them feel more connected, it also gives them the chance to understand just how much good their donation can do.

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Hello, and welcome to the first part in our five part series on non-profit fundraising! At East Ridge Printing we get to work with non-profits from all across the country, and I can quite honestly say that absolutely nothing feels better than helping an organization reach its goals to give back to the community. With that in mind, I wanted to kick this series off by talking about marketing tools for non-profit fundraising.

Why? Because that’s what we do.

Direct Mailers

It doesn’t seem to matter how far into the digital age we’ve come. The direct mailer, or direct mail piece, or direct mail marketing piece, whatever your organization happens to call it, is still one of the key tools in the arsenal of any non-profit organization. Direct mailers deliver your message directly to the doorstep of your key participant, whether they’re a donor, an attendee or a sponsor, and they do a great job of making sure people see your message they way you mean it to be seen.

Posters

Non-profit fundraising may have its share of exclusive, invitation-only events, but it also has its fair share of public events that definitely warrant putting posters up in very public places. A good poster should have its share of savvy design elements, carefully chosen colors and, perhaps most importantly, easy to find information!

Now, I’m not much of one to recommend ordering materials in bulk for multiple events, since it’s so easy for things to change and you to wind up holding on to piles of posters, brochures and cards that are literally useless, but event posters with your organization’s logo and a little spot underneath to write in the name, date, time and location of your event are a great, low-budget way to advertise your events without having to spend a fortune to reprint those posters if the date happens to change.

Personalized Invitations

If you’re going to be sending out invitations to your non-profit fundraising event, step it up a little bit by using the personalization features offered by digital variable printing. Putting their name on their invitation rather than sending out invitations en masse is a classy way to make a great first impression.

Are there more ways to market your non-profit fundraising event? Of course there are! Stay tuned for more in our fundraising series, and don’t forget to put your own comments below!

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If you’re not following us on Twitter you’re completely missing out on all of the hubbub over here at East Ridge Printing. We’re gearing up to launch a new division that specializes in products for sports boosters, and we’re extremely excited about it. Since we started sinking our teeth into this project, however, I’ve been surprised over and over again by the sheer number of people who have never heard of sports booster clubs!

Curious about our new product line? Sit tight, and stay tuned. As soon as we have a definitive launch date I’ll tell you all about it!

Will school budget cuts stop him from playing high school ball?

Sweeping School Budget Cuts

Families with kids in the public school system are already well aware of the effects that sweeping state budget cuts have had on their operating budgets. Educational institutions lost over $50 billion in funding nationwide last year alone. Schools are trimming the fat left, right and sideways, and it’s going to get worse before it gets better. My daughter’s kindergarten class was actually actively soliciting donations of printer paper to print out their worksheets, since the school had imposed a strict limit on the number of copies teachers were able to make!

Extra-curricular activities are the first to take the hit when schools start cutting down, and those cuts have completely exterminated after-school sports programs in at least one Boston school and have driven many other schools to consider shutting down their Jr. High and Jr. Varsity programs. If our economy doesn’t get back on track soon, after-school sports programs may be phased out completely.

Sports Booster Clubs: Stepping In to Save the Day

Sports Booster Clubs pick up where the state’s allotted school budget leaves off, driving fundraising efforts to keep sports programs alive and well in the school. From trips and transportation to equipment, uniforms and competition fees, the money raised by these organizations may be the only thing keeping the next generation in cleats.

If you’ve ever gone to a basketball game and bought a drink, bought candy to support your local marching band or swung through the cheerleader car wash on the corner, you’ve done your part to support your local sports boosters. They’re not reserved for high schools; elementary schools, colleges and even professional sports teams have their own boosters backing them up! So the next time you’re at a game, look around and see if you can’t spot their sports booster clubs in action.

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