In last week’s column, I outlined some of the ways that nonprofits need to rethink their expectations, fundraising efforts and marketing.  I usually receive an email or two from readers, but this topic opened the floodgates.

Most of the emails were from community-minded people who were frustrated with how charities communicated with them. I thought it might be insightful if I shared a few of them before giving you the 1-2-3 of nonprofit marketing.

“I totally agree with you on the redundancy of the charity events. I could play in a golf tournament or go to an auction every week. And what’s up with the charities that seem like event factories? I don’t have the money or the time to attend an event every month.”

“One more point that could be made: After I have made a donation to an organization, there is nothing that irks me more than to receive another half-dozen letters from the same organization still asking for a donation. It’s as if my donation is being wasted on postage to keep bugging those of us that have already contributed.”

“Why is it that I am flooded with donation requests from charities during the holidays even though those same charities didn’t bother to communicate with me all year long? Do they really think I’m sitting around with an extra stack of money in December, wishing I knew of a charity that needed some extra cash?”

There were some others, but that gives you a sense of how area donors are feeling about nonprofits. Here’s the good news: No one wants to stop supporting our community’s charities. But they do want to feel good about doing that. 

Here’s my 1-2-3 of nonprofit marketing.

1. Be a regular storyteller. Tell me about the little girl who got her first bike, the dog that was saved or the lake that’s safe to swim in again. Show me how your efforts are changing the world and how my money is having an impact. If you can, connect my dollars to a specific outcome: $25 buys dinner for a week for a family of four or $50 vaccinates a puppy or kitten. 

Remember, all relationships are about the long haul, so don’t expect me to respond to your once-a-year efforts. Connect with me often and make me care through your stories. Oh, and your stories shouldn’t be about you. They should be about your results and how that affects me.

2. Spending money isn’t a bad thing. In today’s competitive market, nonprofits need a professionally produced Web presence, a CRM/database system that allows you to segment, track and manage your audiences and other communication tools. But, every single nonprofit that I’ve been a part of suffers from the “we can’t spend a dime; we’ll just make due” syndrome. That’s shortsighted. 

I get that you need to be judicious with your donors’ dollars. So spend wisely. But spend. Otherwise, your efforts will fall short every time. The right tools will help you increase your engagement and donations and will quickly pay for themselves.

3. Your event isn’t just an event. Every fundraising event you hold (and there shouldn’t be too many) should tell me a lot about your work and be unique to your organization. Your signature event is the perfect place to connect me to your mission, not just raise money. 

Better than just telling me, give me a hands-on experience. It could be as simple as writing a note of encouragement to a disadvantaged girl to ripping up sheets and towels to make animal bedding. Let me be a part of your solution.

You sell the perfect product: hope, second chances and a better world. Tell us more about that.