As has been reported over the last week or so, and touted to little effect by Democrats seeking (re)election, the US Economy officially came out of recession in July 2009. What has also been reported, and touted to better effect by Republicans, is that unless you are a Wall Street banker, you might not have noticed the end of the recession or felt that much has improved since. Philanthropic organizations continue to feel the economic strain as well, though the move toward ‘micro donations’ has been a great service to these organizations. What leaders and advisers in the non-profit world continue to emphasize is the need to continue to market one’s organization and the good work its members are doing. An upcoming national conference wants to help nonprofits continue the marketing even as their support struggles to keep ahead of economic realities.
Earlier in the summer Holly Hall at The Chronicle of Philanthropy asked Paul C. Light, a professor at New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service, what he felt would be some of the outcomes for philanthropic groups struggling to keep their budgets in the black. He and his peers believed that too many put all their hope in federal dollars from various economic stimulus programs, when consistent, if down-scaled, outreach would have ensured a stream of income. Professor Light categorized the following four likely scenarios for nonprofits, given the ongoing anemic recovery:
* A “miraculous rescue” that would happen after an unusual gift or other infusion of money. [Think Mark Zuckerberg’s gift to the school system in Newark, NJ this past week.]
* “Hollowing out” that occurs when organizations lay off workers and cut services, thus reducing their ability to carry out their missions.
* A need to shut down because of financial woes caused by the bad economy. [For a report of the crisis in the San Francisco region, click here.]
* “Transformation” that results from trimming unnecessary expenses, improving fund-raising capabilities, and taking other steps to adjust to the economy’s downturn.
Clearly, Professor Light and everyone involved in the philanthropic world want to reach for ‘transformation.’ This October 11-13 is the national “” in Chicago. The conference includes sections/sessions like “Advanced Social Media for Non Profits: 2011 and Beyond,” “Today’s Marketer, Tomorrow’s Growth Leader,” and “Customer Needs and Internal Wants: Integration and Alignment with Stakeholder Needs.” (The full listing can be .) The opportunities to network with your peers are priceless in themselves, and the program on offer could help your organization be one of the first to enjoy the rewards of clear and consistent marketing to those ready to help your cause.
The conference will be in, and the organization has already posted a call-for-papers. We all hope the economy will be on a much faster path by then, but whether it is or not, marketing your organization’s efforts and needs will ensure successful fundraising and successful philanthropy.