The Direct Marketing Fundraisers' Ultimate Challenge -- The Start Up

Over the years, direct marketing professionals have worked with all kinds of clients in every industry. Some clients The start up struggleget the help they need and many more never do. Why is that?

Here are some of the reasons they don't get help.

1. The client believes he already has the best people available in-house to solve his problems. Slowly emerging negative trends in their marketing programs are not uncovered until the damage is done. Such clients tend to hire people who work in a single industry and look just like him. So new ideas and objectivity never survive the culture.

2. Some clients know they need help. But they fear spending more for help because it is less risky to save money than it is to spend money to make money.

3. Others don't believe they have a problem and are afraid to address the problem for fear of loosing face with their bosses. What's more, they may actually have to go out and risk failure on a new approach.

4. A few clients get bogged down in the details and can't seem to stand up for air in the strategy zone. They see activity or movement itself as progress and never make time to address the significant issues.

5. Then there are those who want help, know they need it, but they can't seem to reach the critical mass they need to fund their business growth.

This last point is the one that baffles many of us who live to solve marketing problems.

No matter how you look at it, marketers make money for clients by spending money. And marketers know It really takes money to make more for those businesses we serve.

So how do we help the start ups? I am referring especially to those hundreds of humanitarian nonprofits who linger on from year to year without ever reaching that critical mass.

After 20 years or more serving people for causes with wide appeals, some nonprofit organizations never seem to have the money available for mass direct mail to grow their donor basses from a few hundred to 20,000 or more to really get their programs in high gear.

The agony for any business in the early years is grueling and filled with failure. And nonprofits must build without the benefit of seed money or a second round of financing.

Volunteers help. But the costs for mailing lists, postage, lettershop, printing, paper and so on lie beyond volunteers' ability to help. The organization still needs money to grow.

So how do these nonprofits get big in today's world?

I suspect it takes a charismatic leader, a great cause plus one or more individuals (like Bill Gates) who have very deep pockets. Without this combination, nonprofits have a tough row to hoe.

How would you envision the growth of a nonprofit start up ? As a marketer or fundraiser, what would you advise these organizations to focus on?

Posted on May 8, 2009 and filed under Fundraising.