Ah, December! The time of year when fundraising professionals are hitting the pavement and connecting the dots to secure crucial annual gifts to sustain an organization. And the rest of the senior staff members are…prepping their 2016 budgets. Guh. Sounds like a drag, right?

It doesn’t have to be! Assessing the success of your 2015 marketing strategy and planning for 2016 can be an exercise in dreaming, in seeing new possibilities, and repurposing those same ol’ buckets of cash for creative, new materials.

At HMC, we are dedicated to stretching our clients’ marketing dollars and coming up with novel ways to promote causes and engage communities. Here are some actions to plan for in your 2016 marketing budget that you might not have considered, but definitely should:

Show AND tell your impact stories.

We live in an increasingly visual, social society where people want to share images and stories to connect with their peers. An infographic can be a great way to demonstrate your yearly impact to new and existing donors—to communicate important facts and figures while putting them into easily digestible, shareable “bites” of information.

When we say “infographic,” we mean a visual image (like a chart or a diagram) that is used to represent information or data. The best infographics are visually strong, easy to follow, and make a concept clearer to the viewer.

But don’t stop there! Make sure you can break your infographic down into smaller parts. Use those pieces of data visualization on social media, as a direct mail postcard, or within your annual report. By being smart about the initial design, you can use one infographic across multiple media channels.

Make your Annual Report work harder.

As we’ve detailed before, at HMC we think that annual reports need to serve not only as financial documents, but also as marketing and donor stewardship pieces. To do so, they need to be well designed. A visually engaging report will do three important things:

  1. Demonstrate the value of past donations by clearly showing your impact.
  2. Celebrate your staff and donors by showcasing success stories.
  3. Encourage future donations by making your final call to action concise, well-defined, and irresistible.

If you decide to include this new line item for 2016, then your Annual Report should be tailored to your needs. A good rule of thumb is the larger your organizational budget, the more in-depth your Annual Report should be. And don’t forget to make those new data visualizations work double duty!

Tell your boss or team to hit the road.

…and attend a design conference! Way too often, nonprofit teams can get stuck in their silos—marketing learns more about marketing, HR learns more about HR—and while gaining a depth of knowledge in your areas of expertise is important, so too is learning new vocabulary and exploring new ideas of doing your job in a creative way.

Gatherings like the AIGA Design Conference and 99u will help you to “think like a designer” and introduce unfamiliar ways to tackle all-too-familiar challenges like how to communicate better and when to reorganize your team. Plus, once you’re ready to bring in a design team to turn your more ambitious ideas into reality, you’ll have the vernacular to talk with them and move more efficiently from concepting, to drafting, to final design.

By making sure that every marketing decision you make in 2016 adds value to your organization in multiple ways, you’ll be able to make your dollars go further…and go to totally new places! Not sure where to start? Connect with me in the comments below!


Lansie Sylvia is a tornado of curls, sparkles, and big ideas. As Director of Engagement for Here’s My Chance, a creative agency that works exclusively with nonprofits and socially responsible businesses, she leads the agency’s external communication strategy and builds new community partnerships. She currently serves as HMC’s Project Director for Next Stop: Democracy!, a public art project to improve the voting experience in Philadelphia, funded by the Knight Foundation. Before receiving her M.S. in Nonprofit Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice, Lansie completed an AmeriCorps Year of Service in Providence, RI. Her go-to karaoke song is “This Is How We Do It” by Montell Jordan. Connect with Lansie on Twitter or Instagram@fancylansie or via LinkedIn

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