By Chelsea Hadaway
Published Nov. 17, 2009
Blackbaud CEO Marc Chardon opened the company’s annual Conference for Nonprofits on Monday with a speech on how nonprofits are faring and ways to succeed amid lower spending levels.
After a quick poll of the audience, which gathered at the Charleston Area Convention Center, he noted that about 90% of attendees are spending less than they spent a year ago.
Given that the economy is driven by consumer spending, “We’re not out of the woods yet,” Chardon said.
However, he said he has seen some signs that things are bottoming out, if not turning up. In 2008, online giving increased, and that trend is continuing into 2009, he said.
Another encouraging sign came from this latest third-quarter data. The average event in the third quarter of this year earned 4% more money than the same event in Q3 last year, Chardon said.
Although the reality is that it’s going to take awhile to recover, Chardon said some organizations are succeeding right now.
He pointed to three things Blackbaud has done to be able to succeed in a recession:
· Focus on employees and customers because, in down times, retaining supporters is top priority.
· Invest judiciously in things that will make the organization stronger coming out of the recession.
· Cut everything else that’s optional.
He also cited four other strategies he has seen successful nonprofits use:
· Focus on innovation. “It’s simply how do you do something new and different.”
· Selective investing. For example: Operation Homefront, which provides support to troops and families and is a customer of Blackbaud’s eTapestry, realized that its database was full of information but that it wasn’t using it all. The company made an investment in analytics to clean up the database and more effectively target its segmentation. As a result, its direct-mail revenue increased 250%. “A modest investment in the right place can actually have very significant results.”
· Involvement of constituents and supporters. For example: The Children’s Hospital Foundation in Colorado hosts an annual biking event. Two months before the event, it created a Facebook page and a Facebook badge, which helped raise money for the event. The foundation was able to leverage existing supporters through social networking and to gain new ones.
· Inspiration of the people around you. For example: The Life Rolls On Foundation helps people with spinal cord injuries participate in active sports. It was a small organization that wanted to be nationally known. To accomplish that goal, it put a video on its Web site, on Facebook and on YouTube. Chardon said the video was so compelling it helped raise a half million dollars online.
“We must succeed,” Chardon said. “There’s too much in the world that needs doing for us to not succeed.”
To watch Marc Chardon’s keynote speech and other video from Blackbaud’s Conference for Nonprofits 2009, click here.