The Nonprofit Marketing Blog

Our Common Challenges

Yesterday Network for Good was honored to host a group of delegates from 10 countries as part of the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program. The group included the Executive Director of the Icelandic Youth Council, the Program Director for the Russian Red Cross, the Community Manager from the Office of the Mayor of Athens, and a grassroots organizer from Saudi Arabia, among others who work with local governments and community groups to mobilize volunteers and social giving around the world.

As we gathered to talk about leveraging online technology to mobilize volunteers, raise funds, and communicate with supporters, it was clear that the challenges these international organizations face are nearly identical to those of nonprofits here in the United States. Here are a few themes that rose to the top during our time together:

  • Diversifying funding sources: Organizations that are highly dependent on government contracts or grants look to shift their funding sources to reduce the vulnerability of relying on one source of funds. In some cases, this shift to individual giving is new territory and these organizations are sorting out how to prioritize individual donors and the resources needed to support a successful strategy. Sound familiar?
  • Finding (and retaining) the right donors: The universal challenge, but also a wonderful opportunity to learn from one another. For some international organizations, most individual donors are coming from outside of the country, so connecting with and expanding the donor base can be difficult. This is where new networking tools and storytelling venues will continue to make a big impact.
  • Communicating with donors: We all agreed that the key to retaining individual donors is regular and responsive communication. Some organizations are trying to find the right balance of interaction and dedicated time to responding to donors and listening to their feedback.
  • Collaboration vs. competition: With many organizations working to solve similar issues, these NGOs identified a need for more collaboration and stronger networks to pool resources, and make a bigger impact. This is a challenge. One way we can all encourage knowledge and resource sharing is to commit to supporting and participating in roundtable discussions and gatherings just like the IVLP sessions.
  • Getting the story right: From attracting supporters to inspiring gifts to retaining donors, compelling stories are critical. The delegation discussed the challenges of competing with more “media friendly” stories or causes, and the opportunities to connect the right story with the right audience segment. Organizations are made up of multiple stories, which provides a wonderful chance to line up the perfect story with the right segment of a cause’s community.

Do any of these strike a chord with you? What would you add to the list? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

We offer our gratitude to the Department of State and the IVLP delegates for spending time with our team and sharing their experiences. We wish them well as they continue their tour of the U.S. and look forward to learning more from our nonprofit colleagues around the world.

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About This Blog

Linda Lombardi

We’re here to help you win hearts and minds—and donations.

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