A deadly problem for advocacy orgs and nonprofits: Huge Customer Acquisition Cost

Many large advocacy organizations are dead set on list growth. This makes sense because marketing (whether you’re selling gelato or a social mission) is a numbers game. The more people you reach, the more people might donate, send a legislator email, or show up to an event. But in pursuit of scale, many organizations are accruing a huge Customer Acquisition Cost, or CAC. They spend aggressively on advertising to acquire new supporters/email addresses then fail to cultivate those people into long-term supporters. Guess what supporters do when you ignore them or treat them like idiots by relentlessly spamming them with non-personalized content and fundraising asks? They churn (i.e., they unsubscribe). When they churn, they can’t donate, or fundraise, or host events, or most importantly, introduce you to their friends. Read the rest on Medium.

The big cost of big (bad) data

Big organizations are swimming in data. There’s a donor database; an email list that lives in a separate email tool; other random data sets collected via past campaign experiments and one-off events; and don’t forget about the email inboxes of staff account managers that aren’t syncing with any of the above systems. You’re left with a complicated system that creates messy data (and it’s getting messier over time). Read the rest on Medium.

How to use an organizing tactic in big retail (or nonprofits)

I read a lot about what brands are up to in the marketing world and one of the most genius efforts I’ve come across lately comes from an unlikely player: Goodwill.

I’m talking about the nonprofit that operates secondhand stores to help support its work providing job training and other crucial services to youth, veterans and people with disabilities or special needs.

It’s an incredible organization. But while I’ve personally scored some gems at Goodwill, the stores themselves have never been super chic. They’re generally a little rough around the edges and improvised, which is befitting of any good bargain basement. Now, as part of a new effort to broaden the customer base, Goodwill recently renovated some of its department stores to look more like Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie stores. 

What if there were a way to find the most influential fans of Urban Outfitters, plot them geographically to find the ones who live near Goodwill’s new stores, and mobilize them to talk about the chic second-hand boutiques?

Read more