Tips for overcoming the economic downturn

, Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

Recently, whenever I see an article start out saying “in these tough economic times…”, I get the urge to go find a cave and hibernate until the recession is over.  I can’t deny it, though: economic downturn is still seriously impacting nonprofits, and likely to keep doing so for some time.  This year, a lot of nonprofits are facing budget cuts and even layoffs, taking “doing more with less” to a whole new level.  If you’re doing online fundraising or communications for a nonprofit, chances are you’re being asked to raise more money with even fewer resources – and this year’s budget may be even tighter than last year’s.

In spite of the gloomy outlook, there are a lot of things you can do fight the effects of the recession, and make your organization even stronger as it comes out the other side.  Over the next few months, we’ll be sharing a series of posts on the many ways you can make smart use of your limited resources.

Here are some quick tips – but check back (or subscribe to our feed) for a deeper look at these ideas and more.

  1. Don’t ditch the redesign – but scale it back. If your much-needed redesign just won’t happen this year, consider a facelift as a short-term, budget-friendly fix.  Instead of building a new site up from scratch, you can freshen up your design and fix a few of those pesky user experience issues for a fraction of the cost of a redesign.
  2. Be strong on best practices. There’s a wealth of information out there about how to do things right on the web: best practices that have been validated and used for years by countless organizations.  If there was ever a time to make full use of this free wisdom, it’s now.
  3. Take risks. But, you say, it’s too dangerous to take risks right now.  Yet risk-taking, if you’re strategic about it, may be the best way to stand out in an increasingly tough crowd.
  4. Take advantage of Google Grants. Would you say no to $10,000 a month in free advertising?  If you don’t have a Google Grant for Adwords, that’s what you’re missing.  If you already have a grant, are you using it to its full potential?  Make sure you’re giving your account the love and attention it needs to perform its best.
  5. Use the data you have. Speaking of taking advantage of what’s free, when was the last time you really dug into your analytics data?  There’s a wealth of information buried in there, all about your website, that could really help you bump up its performance.
  6. Build up online. Online fundraising isn’t cheap, but compared to the cost of direct mail, it can be a bargain if you’re looking to increase your donations.
  7. Don’t neglect acquisition, cultivation, or social media. It’s tempting to cut back on activities with mostly long-term benefits, when you need to save money. But if you focus on these crucial growth areas, then when the economy does recover, your list will be bigger and stronger than ever.
  8. Don’t make the perfect the enemy of the good. If the absolutely perfect site/project/campaign just isn’t in your budget, try to trim the scope – and a perfectly good equivalent may come within your reach.

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